Thursday, June 29, 2006

Greetings from Weardale.

It actually dawned sunny today, and a bit of a breeze is up, so hopefully the local midge count will drop today. For those of you who haven't yet experienced these little buggers, I assure you that though very small, when present in clouds of thousands they can be truly annoying. Warm still and humid days (such as we have had here this week) are the most conducive to generating these swarms, which will quickly descend on any unfortunate sole who ventures outdoors. Anyone with an allergy to the bites will soon be covered with small red blotches on any exposed skin. The weather reports here up north have lately taken to broadcasting daily "midge index" alerts, similar to pollen and air pollution level reports back home. Fortunately for us, the little buggers don't follow us underground.

Yesterday Byron had at the electrical system on the hydraulic unit again, and came to the conclusion that the ignition switch must be nackered. John at Watson's garage says he may be able to get us a new one by this afternoon, so hopefully we will be past this problem soon. Aside from that, he managed to do some collecting in a fluorite-lined tube exposed last summer in one of our north-east cross cuts.

Lindsay and Patricia Greenbank stopped by for a visit around noon, and we adjourned to the Mill Race for a bite, and some respite from the midges. Lindsay has been waiting for some time now to have a knee replacement surgery, but the NHS appears to move with glacial rapidity on such things. About a month ago one of the knees gave out and he's had a hard time getting about since. Although he wasn't up to climbing our stairs for a mine visit, he seemed in good spirits, and glad of a chance to get out for the day.

Back at the cottage, Joan had made some delicious pies of sausage, shallot relish and puff pastry. I think there are even a few left for breakfast this morning.

The constable who processes our local permits is on holiday until next week, and I've got a compressor scheduled for delivery next Tuesday, so until we can get the chainsaw up and running we will be picking about by hand. First target will be the ceiling of the cavity in the West Cross Cut we opened up last summer. As you may recall, I dubbed this area the "Dodgy Bugger" pocket, because of the large blocks of rock in the ceiling that tend to come down with little notice. Dave has timbered the area within an inch of its life, so Byron and I will stuff the cavity with rolls of bubble wrap to (hopefully) protect any good specimens present, and attempt to bring down the roof in a controlled fashion. If we can manage this, we will still need the chainsaw to cut the blocks down to a reasonable size, but one thing at a time. Today's photo is of the cavity as it currently appears.

More soon,


Specimens in waiting.

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