Thursday, May 30, 2002
Classic Weardale day yesterday - rained most of the day then cleared up nicely in time for a glorious evening. At one point we could see a rainbow down the Dale toward Stanhope as the rain clouds passed eastward and the setting sun came out.
Jonina had another "errands and chores" day, and Byron and I were at the mine. Byron immediately got into collecting at the eastern face along the periphery of last summer's Birthday pocket, and soon I was wrapping specimens and dodging muddy spray from the hose. One thing we have noticed in the past is that specimens that come from the roof of a pocket or seam are always the best ones - with the gemmy and lustrous crystals, while those from the floor are usually matte with white centers. While collecting yesterday I noticed another unexplained pattern, which is that for any given pocket there seems to be at least twice as much crappy bottom stuff as nice top pieces. I guess that means that it's just a numbers game, and with Byron in production mode we came up with some good ones - along with a bucket or two to be donated to Killhope for kid's give-away.
Sometime during mid-afternoon while at the face we heard a muffled "thump", which usually means a rock came down somewhere. I went to investigate and sure enough, a big one came down from the ceiling of the West Cross Cut. Byron's response was "Yep, I knew that was going to happen sooner or later, guess we'll have to timber the place." While taking a break a little while later some rocks at the east face decided to move as well, so Byron set to scaling, collected a little more (of course), and called it a day. The eastern tunnel seems much drier than the western one, but by the time we were done we had quite a lake accumulating at the foot of the face. The dryness also means that the pocket clay is even more tenacious than ever. Byron's really looking forward to trying out his new power washer. While cleaning up (i.e.: getting a hose-down) we had another water pressure failure, likely meaning a burst connection somewhere. Something to do tomorrow….
Stopped at the Golden Lion on the way back and found the usual cast of characters. Ken came in, and seems well. Says that things are slowly getting back to normal after the foot and mouth problem, and that there is talk of reopening the St. John's sheep market. Also ran into a local Irishman named Dave, whom we've bumped into in several of the pubs in the Dale. As with many Irish drinkers, Dave can wax poetic on many a subject so soon we were into politics, religion, economic theory, and who know what else. All-in all, had a good bit o' crack (local for having a yack fest, not dangerous drugs endemic to urban areas in the US).
We had discussed going out for dinner but upon returning to the cottage we found that the cable and plug sockets for assembling the weather-proof electrical lines had been delivered, and Byron immediately launched into the assembly process. Cheese and crackers was served instead.
Today Jonina and I are heading over to Kendal to see Lindsay and pick up the chainsaw, which we stored over winter in the bunker. Byron wants to go to the mine (wild horses couldn't… well, you know) and chase down the water problem. I made him promise to stay away from loose rocks.
Today's photo is of the one that didn't get away.
Jesse, Byron and Jonina
Catch of the day.