June 7, 2000
Greetings from the Great Wet North. The sun actually came out for a brief peak yesterday. I hesitate to think that this may be a trend, but we shall see. Jim and Byron left early for the mine, and Jonina and I left early for Kendal to pick up caps and dynamite. As soon as we left Weardale it began to pour rain, and didn't let up until we returned. Odd for the weather to actually be better in Weardale than elsewhere. the trip was a bit frustrating as we seemed to run into an inordinent number of drivers who couldn't find third gear in their cars. Coming back we ran up behind a Blue Circle cement truck with the same problem. Dave says that the driver was most likely through with a delivery, and didn't want to hurry back to the quarry for fear that he would be given another. Use to be, he says, that in the afternoons the Dale would be full of parked cement trucks burning time after their morning runs.
Got back to the mine around half past one. The crew had finished drilling, and had taken apart and cleaned a drill and jack leg, something which was desperately needed. Jim says that between all the old equipment we have, they were able to part-out a couple of units and get one running okay. Still having problems getting the correct type of oil to use with the drills, and Jim says that the chain saw oil Mick and Lindsay used tends to gum up the drills. Until we get the correct stuff, it's our only option. Neil Fairless says we may have some by Friday.
Byron and Dave loaded and shot both the tunnel face, and the start of our new bypass tunnel. Blast went off perfectly, and first thing today a good job of mucking is in order. Given the problems with drilling yesterday, we're not optimistic enough to think that we can muck, drill, and be ready to blast again by the end of the day, so no powder run is scheduled until Thursday am. In the ideal world, this would be a daily process, and would keep the powder monkey busy traveling between Weardale and Kendal on a regular basis. Hopefully we can get the routine down - or if not, it's because we're into the flats again. After the shot, Byron could not resist going to the end of the tunnel and scaling the face. Came up with a few specimens which, under all the mud and gook look like they may be some nice gem purple twins. Will be nice to see what we have when they get cleaned.
Jonina made the trip to Elvet in the afternoon to pick up chemicals, and stopped by Mark Watson's to check on diesel. Evidently Mark has been down with a bad flu, which seems to be making its way through the Dale. The drum was filled, but no one had the time to deliver it. Guess who gets to pick it up this morning. The compressor is now running on fumes, so we should be okay to run the mucker today.
After discussing the subject of dinner, the crew decided that no one had the motivation to cook. This, coupled with the fact that there is currently precious little in the fridge even if one was so inclined, resulted in a Whitby cod evening at the Mill Race. Everyone cleaned their plates, and were rewarded with another beer for desert. On the way back up the Dale, around 9pm, the clouds dispersed and the sun came out, casting long green shadows across the hills. Hopefully this is the start of a trend.
Had a bit of excitement in the Dale the other day. As we were heading east along the main road through the Dale, we were passed by four fire/rescue trucks and two police cars rushing the other way, all with lights flashing and sirens wailing. In a place where one almost never hears a single siren, let alone six, this looked like some major disaster had occurred. On the way back up the Dale we stopped in at the Golden Lion and ask Isabel if she knew what had happened. With a laugh, she explained that a fellow who lives right around the corner there in St. John's Chapel had discovered some unmarked chemical container-like cans in his garage, and called the authorities. The stuff turned out to be paint. I understand that the county has a number one can call to request identification and disposal of suspected hazardous materials. Usually what happens is that a technical is sent to check things out and determine what sort of response is necessary. Only thing I can think is that it must have been a slow day for the emergency response crew. Evidently, the fellow who initiated all the excitement is a regular at the pub. I hope he can take the ribbing he will likely be getting over this.
Heard from Jeremy last night that Tim Sherburn is in town, so I expect we will see him at the quarry today. Wonder if he wants to learn how to run a mucker?
The day has dawned clear and bright, and a few clouds are now moving in, which seems to be the "normal" weather pattern in these parts. Maybe we will have only equipment to fight and not the weather for a while.
Jesse, Jim, Byron, and the still sleeping (you expected she'd get up early?) Jonina