Thursday, June 3, 2004

Good morning from Weardale.

And a cold and wet one it is. Yesterday, however, was one of those almost perfect days in North England, sunny, sky dotted with fluffy white clouds floating by, close to 20C. As they say, the only constant is change and overnight another front moved in and is right now pouring down rain. I think I'll have another cup of coffee.

Yesterday Byron and Dave were at the mine and continued their assault on the north face in the West Cross Cut, along with more sawing of large rocks. Jonina and I made the drive to Kendal to visit Lindsay and Patricia, and take care of some necessary paperwork for our local permits. A sad fact of modern life (in western Europe and the U.S. at least) is that permits are required to do almost anything other than scratch one's behind. Reciprocal to these permits are, of course, the attendant fees to be paid to the permit-issuing authority. Government agencies are created to issue permits and collect fees, which go to pay for the administrators who, in turn, issue more permits and collect more fees. Rather like some sort of a bureaucratic perpetual motion machine. No sense in dwelling on that too much!

At any rate, all this gave us a chance to visit with Lindsay, catch up on what has been happening on the British mineral scene, and see some good rocks. Lindsay had recently developed some sort of a heart arrhythmia and was fitted last week with an "on-demand" pace maker - something that kicks in only when needed. Sounds very high-tech, indeed. Fortunately, government insurance pays for these things here as he says the little device cost around 15,000 UK Pounds! At any rate, he was looking far better than anyone had a right to after the experience. Patricia, on the other hand was hiding out in bed after having come down with some sort of a quick-onset flu that morning. Took care of paperwork and then quickly adjourned to the sun in the garden for coffee and a light lunch, then to the mineral room for a look at some recent acquisitions and a few old favorites.

Headed back mid-afternoon and decided to go the scenic route through Brough and Teesdale. As we passed through Middleton up toward Langon Beck and the road over the moors into Weardale, Jonina spied that "springtime in the dales" postcard scene she was looking for and started agitating for me to pull over quickly. Made a quick stop (much to the apparent consternation of some motorist intent on passing up the scenery as quickly as possible), and let her out for the "photo-op". Stone wall-enclosed pastures with sheep grazing in fields full of little yellow flowers, trees and green hills in the background, a few white clouds in the sky.

After successfully bagging her prey, we continued up the dale and over the road that puts us in St. John's Chapel. It was about 1800 and Byron should have been coming up the dale to take Dave home and any moment, so we stopped at the Golden Loin. Sure enough, in he walked a few minutes later. Robin, the landlord was in a bit of a state because, while trying to tap a new cask of a very nice local ale known as Crag Rat, the seal around the tap had split and the contents poured onto the cellar floor! Pity, I was looking forward to a pint. Oh, and if you're wondering about the name, a Crag Rat is what the locals call the rock climbers who seem to enjoy risking life and limb in great numbers, to scale the fells in the Lake District in Cumbria, a bit to the west of us.

Ran into David Rennison briefly, who had just delivered our loaner rock saw to the cottage for the summer. As is often the case, he was late for supper and quickly dashed off home, promising a return today or tomorrow. Got supper on for the troops back at the cottage, and Bob and Mary, who had just returned from their trip to St. Petersburg stopped in for a quick chat.

Today will be another sawing and poking day at the mine for Byron and I. Dave is off, as he has to deal with some things at his school job today. Jonina will be delivering filled-out forms to the proper permitting agencies, and then, if time allows, will be back to her work station in the garage. Today's photo is of a few of the bonnie bits we've turned up in the past few days.

Until tomorrow….

Cheers,

Jesse, Byron and Jonina



Some Bonnie Bits.

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