Thursday, June 18, 2009

Greetings from Weardale.

Yesterday, in true Northern English fashion, it pissed down rain all day. The quarry turned into a real mud bath. The mine mud we deal with on a daily basis is brown, as mud should be. The mud in the quarry, however, is made from the poorly consolidated rock in a shale layer below the limestone we work in, which forms the quarry floor. It is sticky, slippery, and totally black. As a result, both my hire car and Byron’s new white van now look like they’ve just emerged from the trenches of the Ardennes. As we drove up dale after the day was done, the clouds lifted and treated us to one of the nicer sunsets I’ve seen yet this year (photo attached). The wind also came up so I’m hopeful that the quarry has dried out a little overnight.

Yesterday morning, just as the day’s downpour was getting underway I got a call from Tony, the friendly chap at Exchem who takes our orders. It was one of those good news-bad news things. A delivery truck was on its way with the supplies that we’ve needed for the past week. The bad news was that it had broken down and was currently languishing at a layby somewhere east of Bishop Auckland awaiting someone from the company to come get the drivers and their cargo. The company office, however, is well to the south in Derbyshire, meaning the drivers had a long wait in store. What this also meant was that, should I be so motivated, I could drive out and pick up our order, providing I could find where they were. The fortunate thing was that they were on the A689, which is the same route that runs through Weardale. The difficult part of the journey proved to be finding my way through Bishop Auckland while remaining on the correct road. The center of town is a maze of multiple roundabouts, and once one enters this maze, all signage for which direction the A689 is headed seems to vanish. After some blundering about, I finally figured out that I needed to follow the signs for Hartlepool, which is a town out on the coast, and eventually was able to make the pickup around 11:30. Turned out that the poor drivers had been stuck there since 6 am. Fortunately, there was a lunch wagon parked at the layby, so they were able to get coffee and such.

Back at the mine about an hour later I found Byron and Greg busy trying to engineer a curtain/door across an older section of tunnel, which would, hopefully, redirect airflow through newer sections of tunnel. This, of course, required nails and such that they did not have, so off I went again. Fortunately, this time only to the DIY in Stanhope. When finally back with no more errands to run, I spent a few hours wrapping and binning specimens before heading into the mine to help with the various projects underway.

Dave was busy finishing the timbering at the main face, and by late in the day it had been cleaned up and secured, which will now allow collecting to resume. By end of day Byron and Greg had their door installed, and today we will see if it has any real effect on airflow through the mine.

No lingering at the Blue bell last night, as there was another lady’s darts tournament. It’s a pretty small pub and nowhere to hide when the darts start flying, so after a quick pint it was back to the cottage for dinner and to bed on time.

Dave is off today to attend Shanade’s secondary school graduation. Byron and Greg are off to the mine already to start digging again. Hopefully, we will be back in production.

Until next time,

Jesse & Byron

A Weardale Sunset.

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