Saturday, June 30, 2007

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather has continued to be cold and wet here, though we have been spared the torrential downpours of last weekend. The sun has even shown itself on a few occasions and the wind has been doing a yeoman’s job of drying things out between outbursts. This morning is dawning bright and clear, which I will take for a good sign, though chat in the pub has it that everything’s suppose to “go to shite” this weekend. Just so that you don’t get to thinking that things have gotten back to their normal balmy selves here in the dale, though, I’ve included for today’s photo one of the quarry in full swamp phase a few days ago. Please note the rare and endangered Geordie crocodile in the pond. Bloody thing hasn’t made a dent in the rabbit population this year, however.

The past two days I’ve spent much of my time here at this very same computer, doing the month-end invoicing for Joan’s and my other business back home. You know, the one that makes money? As a result, my visits to the mine have been brief. As one would expect, however, it is obvious that Byron has been busy as I discovered several tubs of wrapped specimens sitting outside the West Cross Cut yesterday afternoon upon my arrival at the mine. He tells me that there are some good ones there, including a few stalactites, but I guess I’ll have to get to cleaning them to see for myself.

In general, startup has gone remarkably smoothly this year, but just to keep us from becoming complacent, several “bumps in the road” have come along. Getting Byron’s Peugot licensed and on the road has taken a little longer than is should have, due to a bit of miscommunication. Before leaving home I called Watson’s Garage to let them know we were coming and ask them to get the car serviced and ready to go. Over the years they’ve handled all the details for us including getting it taxed and permitted for the road. Evidently, to get the vehicle registered one needs an insurance certificate. As they were an automobile dealership, they just used their own. Seems that they are now out of the car selling business and can no longer do this for us. The problem arises in that no one explained this to me when I called from home, and the insurance certificate remained dutifully filed with other insurance info some 5000+ miles away from where I now need it. Fortunately, we have this modern miracle known as Express Mail, which is (hopefully) bringing it my way in short order.

The other bump occurred yesterday afternoon when Dave went to fire up the compressor to finish drilling a few faces. Worked fine all morning, now it wouldn’t run for more than a minute or sow before shutting down. A light on the control panel said that the compressor oil level was low, but the indicator on the tank gave the level as good. A call to the hire company quickly confirmed my suspicion that, being a Friday afternoon, there was no way in hell we were going to get someone out before Monday to have a look at it. Yet another example of life in the food chain. With the end of the day plans at the mine derailed, Byron and I were forced to consol ourselves with a round of Whitby Cod and a few pints of Black Sheep at the Mill Race Hotel. It could have been worse.

Today, Dave’s of spending his hard earned money at a motorbike event, so Byron and I will go in to the mine for a bit and work on the exposures in the West Cross Cut. There are some nice plates with a few really large crystals on the back wall. They’re pretty well stuck in there and Byron thinks we will have to saw them out. To do this, he will need a bit more room, so today we will be trying to excavate the floor in the pocket. This evening we are scheduled to meet up with our former landlords at Mine House, Bob and Mary for dinner. Tomorrow, being Sunday and the traditional day of rest, perhaps we’ll lay around and watch the telly all day. But then, maybe we’ll find something better to do with ourselves instead.

Until tomorrow,

Jesse & Byron


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