Saturday, July 01, 2006

Greetings from Weardale.

Sunny and hot this morning. A bit humid too, so should be a smashing day out for midges. Being Joan's last day here in Weardale she is insisting on a day of goofing off, rather than hanging around dealing with e-mails while I'm at the mine. I figure we won't be going for a walk across the moors, however. No, more likely somewhere free of the swarming little buggers.

The past two days have been the usual start-of-season hurry up and wait for stuff to happen. We've been having problems with the electrical system on the hydraulic power unit for the chain saw, and earlier in the week Byron concluded that it must have something to do with the three-way starter switch. The folks at Watson's garage came up with another one for us (used, however) after a few days wait, but it doesn't seem to work either, so we're back to square one on this one. At least we now have Byron's little white Peugeot, so he is now independent and fully mobile.

After spending a good bit of Thursday in frustration over the hydraulic unit, Byron decided to give it a break and go poking around the mine with a bar or two. I convinced him that we should have a go at last summer's alcove in the West Cross Cut, so in short order we had packed the cavity with rolls of bubble plastic, removed the support column, and let most of the roof come down. The place is a right mess now. I've warned Dave what is in store when he starts next Monday, but he says it's no bother. Either he really likes us, or he really needs the money for his motorbike.

Anyway, the cavity broke to the same ceiling level we have throughout the West Cross Cut, which will make cleanup and timbering easy. We decided to leave it as-is overnight, in order to let things settle and any problematic rocks have a chance to think about coming down on their own. Friday morning we went back in and came up with a few good specimens, and one real nice one, featured in today's photo. There may be several more, but they are firmly attached to some very large rocks and must await the resurrection of the chain saw to realize their full potential.

Today was Joan's last day before returning to California, so we went out and played tourist. When we left around 1030 Byron was up for having another go at the hydraulic unit, but when we returned around 1700 his mood and sense of optimism had changed somewhat. We gathered him up and headed off to a new dinner spot here in the Dale, The Black Bull in Frosterley. The place has been under new management for about a year, and was recommended by the rumor mill here in the Dale. I can report that both the food and the ale selection are excellent, and the place is entirely non-smoking. Two thumbs up!

Tomorrow I'm taking Joan down to London for her flight back home. As I hear it was around 30 C down there today, I won't be lingering afterwards. I've arranged a rendezvous with Byron at the pub of his choice for around 1700, when I hope to be back, and we shall take things from there.

More soon,


A bonnie bit from the West Cross Cut

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