It’s been hot. That’s pretty unusual for Yorkshire in early June. In fact, it’s pretty unusual for Yorkshire at any time. The sunny days have been interspersed with cloudy and thundery ones, but there have been several shorts-and-T-shirts days.
One evening we were invited for a meal with friends who live on the other side of the River Wharfe. Seeing as alcohol was involved and the weather was unbelievably hot, we decided to cycle. That meant crossing the river on stepping stones at a place we’d never crossed before. I was apprehensive because there has been a fair bit of rain in upper Wharfedale as well as sun, and it can take a few days for the water to find its way into the river. I was half convinced we’d find the stepping stones under water, and carrying a bike across stepping stones is bad enough when you can see them clearly and they are nice and dry.
I needn’t have worried. When we cycled down to the crossing point we found a benign river and wide, level stepping stones several inches above water level. They were even wide enough for people to pass each other, which was just as well as I was rather slow with my bike balanced on my shoulder. There were dozens of people swimming, picnicking, barbecuing, sunbathing, messing about in blow-up boats and frolicking in the water. I have never seen anything like it in this country at 7 o’clock on a June evening. There’s a really safe pool for swimming, between a weir and the stepping stones, so protected and shallow that even small children could bathe with impunity. The sun had been beating down all day and the water was warm, as were the rocks on the bank. Hard to believe that this was the same river that washed away an 18th Century stone bridge at Tadcaster, just 25 miles downstream, at Christmas the year before last. That bridge was only reopened in February after being repaired.
We sat on our friends’ south-facing terrace overlooking the valley with a glass of wine and watched the sun go down. It was an evening I’ll remember for a long time. It was still mild, if not exactly hot, when we cycled home in the small hours of the morning. If the weather were always like this, I’d never want to go abroad.