June 12, 2000

Greetings from the Great Wet North. Two days without a torrential downpour. We're going for a record here! It would be nice if it dried out to the point that everything wasn't covered in mud, but I'm not getting my hopes up just yet. I can see some blue sky out there this morning, though.

Yesterday - Sunday - was a day off from the mine, but the morning was still busy with chores. After a leisurely breakfast in which we all indulged in an extra cup of coffee, Jonina marched off to her lab, and Jim and I drove in to the mine to pick up some lumber, and stopped by the DIY (Britspeak for hardware store) in Stanhope for an assortment of nails. Back up at the cottage, Jim set out to construct a table for the air abrasive unit and a stool for Jonina to stand on at the saw. Byron had disassembled the Italian gun for another try at a resurrection. No such luck. Looks pretty, don't work, as they say. Jonina was busy water gunning specimens, and we had a good wind blowing up out of the valley. With water flying about, this made an excellent heat extraction mechanism for all involved.

This general scene continued until around 1400 when we all got cleaned up and headed over to Kendal for a visit with Lindsay and Patricia. The road over was still full of weekend warriors out on their bicycles and motorcycles. Great packs of motorcyclists seem to roam these parts on the weekends, and there were literally hundreds parked at the Hartside cafe (a pub/restaurant at the top of the moor as you head west from Weardale into Cumbria). We confirmed Jonina's sighting of a flock of red sheep. Actually, they looked like they had been rolling around in red, Fe-rich dirt. I don't think that sheep normally wallow, but perhaps we have a band that have developed the habit. They were keeping to themselves, and not mixing with any of the "normal" looking sheep nearby. Having developed what to a sheep is probably a socially aberrant behavior, perhaps they are being ostracized by their herd mates.

Had a marvelous dinner at Lindsay and Patricia's. Spent a while chatting with Lindsay, and got a combination of old mining and equipment stories, and the dirt on all the locals in the mineral community. Hopefully, we have the equipment problem now sorted. I ask them not to hesitate to bring it up if anything like this happens again. Dinner there seems to be a tag-team affair, and Patricia first served up a dish called "dirty shrimp", which consisted of small, fresh local shrimp sautéed with some pepper and spices. That disappeared from the table in short order. Lindsay then put on his chef's whites and disappeared into the kitchen, soon to emerge with the main course of beef bourgonone-type dish, along with mashed potatoes which had been finished off in a broiler to give them a crust, caramelized small sweet onions, and carrots. Sticky toffee pudding was for afters (Britspeak for desert). Patricia promises to make it again for Cal. After one last, longing look at their fantastic collection of N. English minerals, we headed back over the moors to Weardale. Everyone in the back seat was soon dozing off - no doubt influenced by the amount of wine that usually flows during dinner at the Greenbanks'. I had a bit of what turned out to be a really nice Australian cabernet I found in a local off-license (Britspeak for liquor store) and brought as our offering to the feast, but was otherwise full of fizzy water. The wildlife was out in force on the roads, and I spent much time dodging sheep, hedgehogs, and rabbits. Fortunately the bicyclists had retired for the evening.

Dave should be back at the mine today. Jim spoke with him yesterday, and he feels up to coming back, so hopefully we can get the tunnel mucked out and a new round drilled today. Jim is hoping that the wind has changed direction, and the quarry won't be quite so fragrant. Jonina and I will likely have a "run-around" day. Need to see Neil Fairless about the CO2 for the air abrasive, rock oil order for the drill, and our (hopefully) resurrected compressor fuel pump. Then, need to see Mark Watson about the second car. Then, need to make a shopping run to the Safeway in Consett as there is nothing in the fridge but beer. Then, we need to call Mick with a powder order. Should be a busy Monday.


Jesse, Jim, Byron, and Jonina who is currently running up her phone bill with her sweetie.

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