Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Greetings from Weardale,

Yesterday was quite windy and overcast, and while I could see rain up dale from the mine landing, it held off for most of the day at the mine itself. This morning looks much the same, despite forecasts promising sunny weather. I think weather forecasters are much like politicians in that they seem to feel compelled to tell the punters what they think they want to hear, rather than the often less-than-optimistic truth of the situation. At least with the weather, if they’re wrong the worst that is likely to happen is that one will get unexpectedly wet.

Monday morning at the mine was spent loading everything to be shipped back onto pallets in anticipation of Tuesday’s scheduled pickup. By lunch time Byron and I had five pallets assembled and covered with tarps in anticipation of the omni-present rain. Today’s photo is of Byron inspecting the job. In the afternoon Byron tried his hand at a bit more collecting in hopes of turning up a last minute “killer”, but was out of luck on that account. Dave drilled and shot the main face one last time for the season. Heading back up dale to the cottage after assembling the pallets, I spent the afternoon packing the cream of the season’s finds and making arrangements for an express courier to pick them up.

Yesterday was pickup day by our shipper for the main bulk of the year’s production. This is always a nerve-wracking time as every year, without fail, something has gotten screwed up. On two occasions the driver has totally failed to even show up. Things were not quite so bad this year as a driver actually did put in an appearance around 11 AM. This year’s problem arose when it came out that, despite my repeated requests that the haulage firm making the pickup needed to send a truck small enough to drive into the quarry, the driver had arrived with a truly huge vehicle. After some frantic scurrying about, I was able to hire a forklift driver from the timber mill to haul the pallets over to the mill where the driver could get in. I think that next year we’re going to have to come up with a different plan, but fortunately, I don’t need to worry about that just yet.

After we finally got the shipment away I entertained a couple visitors, Tim Sherburn from California and local collector/dealer Peter Briscoe. Both had a good crawl around the mine and came away with some souvenir pits. Dave spent much of the day mucking and timbering the main face, but had to work around a crew of surveyors Cal had hired to make a mine map who showed up on short notice. Fortunately, everyone was able to dance around each other and both got their jobs finished by day’s end. Back up dale for the evening, all relaxed over a pint or two at the Blue Bell, and got the chance to meet Joy’s new cockerel. Joy keeps a flock of laying hens at her allotment in Westgate, and unfortunately, the rooster of the flock recently met an early demise. Another local fellow who raises chickens had a surfeit of cockerels and stopped by the pub to drop one off, which Joy showed around to everyone before dashing off to introduce it to her flock of hens. She reported back that the introductions went quite well.

Today, after picking up Dave, I’ll be coming back to the cottage to await the courier pickup of our good specimens. Byron is already off to the mine to begin close-down chores, and will no doubt spend some time poking about the newly rearranged main face. With another successful collecting season near completion, we can finally relax a bit. Tonight we’re planning a visit with Helen and Barry, giving Joan an opportunity to see Helen’s collection for the first time. Another day left to tie up loose ends in the dale, then down to London for a day at the museums then flying home on Sunday. All goes too quickly.

Until next time,

Jesse, Joan, and Byron

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