Thursday June 26, 2008

Greetings from Weardale.

Woke up early this morning, around 0600, and it was sunny outside. Now, around 0730, it is raining. Hopefully by the time I have to pick up Dave and head to the mine the sun will have returned. The clouds look pretty heavy, however, so I am not counting on it.

Yesterday involved a lot of running around the dale on errands, some of which got accomplished and some of which are so far proving elusive. The little white Peugeot was serviced and ready for pickup yesterday morning so first stop was Watson’s garage in Wolsingham. John, our mechanic tells me that the car has passed its inspection this year, but has some “issues” that may cause us trouble in the near future. Maybe time for a new company vehicle. We’ve gotten ten years good service out of the Peugeot, so I guess I can’t complain too much, but this business always seems to be full of more expenses than income, so yet another is hardly welcome. Dave, who keeps and uses the car while we’re away has already started lobbying for something that is large enough to transport his motorbike to his races. Figuring that a positive, if vague reply is always good policy, I told him that if he continues to find us the good stuff anything is possible.

The registration on the Peugeot is due by the end of the month, so armed with the inspection certificate and the requisite proof of insurance documents, my next stop was the Wolsingham post office, where such things are dealt with in these parts. Unfortunately, it then turned out that there was a slight error in the vehicle registration number on the insurance document. This resulted in a drive back up dale to the cottage and several phone calls to the insurance company, resulting in a promise that a corrected document will be in the mail shortly. I hope shortly means by the end of the month, when the registration fee is due. For those of you who have not experienced the joy of bouncing up and down the dale in our company car, here is photo of the little beast parked at the cottage. Byron can be seen looking out from within.

Along the way up and down the dale I stopped by the post office in Stanhope to mail back a couple boxes of recently collected specimens, with the thought of updating the website when I return home in early July. It used to be that I would hand-carry these back with me on the airline, but after being told by an airport security drone a while back that the fluorite specimen I had in my carry-on bag was in reality a dangerous weapon, I’ve decided that mailing them is a safer bet. The most reliable method seems to be the international express/priority post, which is traceable and guaranteed delivery within a week. The problem with something like this in a place like Weardale is that someone wanting to post several boxes of rocks back to the US via global priority mail only happens once or twice a year, which is not nearly often enough for anyone in the post office to remember just how to set it up in their computer system. Fortunately, the average postal employee here in Weardale seems much more helpful and friendly than their average counterpart back home in San Francisco. This, coupled with the apparent novelty of an American who wants to send some rocks back home by the most expensive method available is enough to get us through the process each time.

Back at the mine by mid-afternoon I found Dave busy drilling the main face in anticipation of a shot at the end of the day. After several days of digging mostly broken rubble, we all agreed that it was time to move some rock out of the way and see what we turn up. The shot went off at the end of the day, so this morning we will see what sort of mess we’ve made. Hopefully, all the timber sets will have remained in place, which is something that doesn’t always happen. I can be reasonably sure, however, that we will have a pile of muddy rock to haul out of the mine today.

Until next time,

Jesse & Byron

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