June 2, 2001

Good Morning. Yesterday we had our first day of really normal weather here in the Dale – it rained most of the time. Not a right proper rain, mind you, but rather a sort of heavy mist that would get a little too heavy at times. The cloud cover looks fairly thick this morning, so perhaps we’re in for more of the same today. The weather is so changeable here though, that you never really know what’s in store until it actually happens.

Byron and Jonina were really tired yesterday, so I declared a goof-off day. Perhaps the jet lag and stress of opening up the operation for another season has built up. Byron has been putting in a lot of physical labor at the mine, and says he hasn’t been sleeping very well. We have things to a point at the mine where we can’t really do much now except poke at the pocket until we get the compressor, so no sense in pushing things.

First stop of the day was a visit to Killhope to say hello to Ian Forbes. Ian seems cheery and in good health, and we all had coffee and chatted for a bit. The spillover from the foot and mouth outbreak has definitely caused them some problems. The local County Council which runs Killhope had kept them closed for six weeks past their normal opening date this year due to the outbreak which means that unless the Council offers to make up the revenue from lost attendance, they will have a serious operating shortfall this year. So far, no offers of anything of the sort, and Ian was getting a bit worried. The fellow who helps run the underground tours was having some troubles as well. Evidently they had just purchased a new lot of rechargeable batteries for the headlamps, and they were not taking a charge. Byron fussed with their setup for a while but could find nothing wrong with the charger, and concluded that there must be something wrong with their new batteries – not what this fellow wanted to hear. Attendance at the center seemed to be fairly good this day, and with lots of folks signing up for the underground trek. He was wondering how they were going to provide them all with lights, and I suggested that issuing candles to everyone would add a dose of realism to the experience. After all, these tunnels were dug a hundred years ago by hordes of men with nothing but tallow candles for light. Though a humorous thought, I could see that visions of liability were keeping him from taking me seriously.

There was a fellow with a display of “Creepy Crawlies” in their upstairs function room, so after allowing Ian to go back to work, we went up for a look. A fellow who breeds insects, spiders, and other exotic critters had quite a menagerie laid out on a couple of tables, and was busy thrilling the kids and making their moms squeamish. Things like millipedes, tarantulas, mantises, and even a couple of Madagascar hissing cockroaches were in attendance, along with a nice smallish boa that Jonina began fondling. Being far from its preferred tropical climate, the snake was keen to crawl into warm spots and immediately slid inside her jacket. After a couple of minutes it had managed to thread itself through her belt loops, and required several hands to extract. Jonina thanked me for leaving the camera behind. On the way out we left a goodly bit of change in the gift shop, which should help their bottom line in some small way. I found a British Geological Survey publication of interest (these things are never cheap), and Jonina got a geological map of the British Isles in the form of a jigsaw puzzle. Should keep her busy for a while.

After Killhope, we took a drive up onto the misty moors, and ended up at the Allenheads Inn. This is a pub in the village of Allenheads, which is famous for the amount of junk the owner has crammed into the place. Joan and I stopped by there a couple of years ago and could hardly get past all the “memorabilia to order a pint at the bar. It seems that new owners have recently taken over and have cleaned it up a bit. Still full of old interesting stuff, but there is now room for some customers as well. The men’s loo was full of marvelously bad “erotic” paintings – nude ladies reclining in piles of fluff and the sort. Jonina tells us that the ladie’s was nothing special, however. Had a chat with a local fellow and his two sons who recognized us from last year at Steve’s, and wandered around looking at the stuff. Today’s photo is of Bullwinkle and Friends, who were encountered in the wilds of the adjoining dining room.

Drove back down to the valley through Rookhope and stopped off at Mark Watson’s garage for petrol and to check on the cars. The little Peugot was there, and had been cleaned up so well that Byron and Jonina did not immediately recognize it. It won’t stay that way for long, I’m sure. The Subaru is evidently still in Nottingham. Mark borrowed it, most likely to drive down and get some newly purchased cars for his lot, and has yet to get it driven back for us. It will get back eventually, I’m sure, and with the Peugot and the loaner, everyone should be in business.

Stopped at the Mill Race for a quick dinner, and after a pint I could see that Jonina was not long for this world. Got them home and into bed by 8. Today we’re making the trip to Kendal to visit with Lindsay and Patricia and retrieve the chain saw. Bill tells us that the San Diego blasting permits are on their way to Mick, so hopefully that problem is on its way to a quick resolution. The only unknown is the fact that there is a new bureaucrat in charge of issuing the permits in this region, and Mick has not dealt with her before. Hopefully this will go smoothly as well.

Well, everyone’s up, moving, and looking a little more rested, so I guess it’s time to get things going for the day.

Stay tuned for more…

Cheers, Jesse

Bullwinkle and friends at the Allenheads Inn.

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