Monday, June 1, 2009

Greetings from Weardale.

Yes, it’s that time of year again, and once again we have taken up residence in our home away from home here in St. John’s Chapel, hoping once again to find our fortune in a dark muddy little mine. I’ll fill you in on the details shortly, but first, the weather.

When Byron and I arrived at London Heathrow airport bright and early last Saturday morning it was sunny and warm. For the entire drive north it remained sunny and warm. Upon arriving in Weardale we were not greeted by the customary downpour of rain, nor did it appear on Sunday. As the day begins here this morning, it still has not shown up. Looks like we’re in for another nice day. For those of you who may remember the constant winging on about the constant rain in these e-mails last year, you can appreciate the utter contrast. The locals, being British of course, are not in the habit of expecting a succession of good weather days and I have been assured by not a few folks here that it will all go to hell by Thursday. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, but I suspect the weather prognostications available from the punters in the pub are about as reliable – or otherwise – as those available from the BBC.

Upon arriving at our rental cottage early Saturday afternoon, we found the landlord trying to replace the old fluorescent light fixtures in the kitchen with some new halogen and stainless steel models. Our landlord is a very nice bloke but one of the things he is not is a DIY-type. He is, of course, British, however, and this means that he will feel compelled to try and do all the maintenance around the place himself rather than hiring a professional. To his credit, he got the first of two fixtures installed and working as it should. The spot for the second one, however, offered a somewhat confusing assortment of wires coming out of the same hole in the ceiling, and he had not taken note of how the old fixture had been connected. As it had now been removed, the option of option of using it as a guide to how the new one should be connected was no longer available, and after several unsuccessful attempts at figuring out the correct wiring, it became obvious that he was becoming rather frustrated. Byron and I saved the day – at least temporarily- by offering to get our volt meter from the mine and try to sort out the proper connections. We got the meter from the mine yesterday but have not yet attempted to sort the wiring. If this doesn’t work I suspect I may be cooking supper by candlelight. Joan might appreciate the effect, but I’m pretty certain it would be totally lost on Byron.

Sunday morning, after enough coffee was had to temporarily banish the effects of the jetlag, we wandered down the street to meet up with Dave and discuss what needs to be done for startup this year. We’ve all done this often enough now that it is pretty routine, and I think we spent most of the time with him in his work shed hearing the latest details about his racing bike. The afternoon was spent shopping for provisions at the Morrison’s supermarket in Barnard Castle. This is one of the closest large markets to us and is about 25 miles to the southeast, across the moors between Weardale and Teesdale. The drive was lovely, but due to the weather, almost every turnout along the road was occupied by folks who had pulled over, set up their folding chairs, and were busy sunning themselves. I suspect we’ll see a lot of sunburned folks about today. After returning to the cottage with our haul from the market, we met up with local collectors Helen and Barry for a quick pint at the Blue Bell. Caught the proprietor Scott outside sunning himself, which is the subject of today’s photo. Afterwards, we headed up the hill to have dinner with our former landlords Jeremy and Phillippa. Their son Peter, who worked for us a couple summers back, has now graduated high school and before heading off to university will be spending the summer on an around the world adventure, culminating in a cruise up the Amazon from Brazil into Peru. Some kids have all the luck!

This morning before heading to the mine to open up I need to contact the compressor hire company to see when we can expect the unit to be delivered, and try to chase down one of Byron’s permits that should have been waiting here for us when we arrived, but wasn’t. Guess we’re off and running.

Until next time,

Jesse & Byron



A sunny day in St. John's Chapel.

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