23 February 2017

Respite from teaching in the dig

I had been working flat out for over two weeks. I really needed a night in the dig to recover! Luckily I got that.

We would have another dual trip; Paul would take some new people around, while David, Don and I would head into the digs. It would probably be me in Dig 2, and them in Dig 1. I was impatient; I was ready to go up by the time Paul only started changing. With us not heading in the same way anyway, we left him and went ahead.

It was a night that started sweaty; Miles was thinking of pumping water out of a level we had to walk through a lot, and I welcomed that idea as that wellie-overtopping, cold water had left me with painfully cold feet the week before. He had himself carried the pump in; we would follow with the 50m of hose he had left for us at the entrance. And that's quite heavy!

When we got down I went to Dig 2, where I found Matt working on the passage to the last chamber. I found Miles at the coalface. He was wearing waders! He had his own thoughts on standing around in deep cold water. He was comfortable; at least foot-wise. He was cold and tired otherwise, having been in there since before noon. But it showed; the chamber was unrecognisable. The passage to where you could go no further (yet) was motorway-sized! Impressive. And Miles he had just drilled some holes in the ceiling for charges; these would not open up the blocked bit, but would provide a prelude to just that. While I admired all that David and Don appeared for a look too. When they'd caught up with Miles they headed for the other dig.

I took it upon myself to frantically scamper around, looking for all ingredients needed for a blast; charges, the resin gun, extra resin, extra nozzles, and the detonation wire. Even though I had had a long day of teaching I felt fresh. Doing physical work is nice after two weeks of relentless thinking!

The resin gun now also started bothering Miles; I think it's due retirement. When the fight with the resin was over I was draughted into wiring the stuff up as well, as Miles' hands were getting too cold. And it would get worse. When he walked back through the level he fell over. That's the way to make waders not work!

We retreated to the level with the supplies in it; we all ate something and I raised the men's spirits with some hot drinks. When we were done consuming I went back in to set off the charges. That went well, but I remained alone. It started to dawn on me the men wouldn't follow! They were done for today. Miles wanted a hot shower. They were probably right it was time for them to go. I scampered back to say bye. Then I went back; it was still early, and I could go and clear out the blast rubble. The ceiling also had lots of bits that were loosened but not quite detached; I had quite some crowbarring to do. And some throwing rocks out into the level.

The tight bit had two small holes you could see through; too small for a person, but enticingly providing a glimpse of what awaited. I had a look at the biggest one; it looked almost big enough for a person... I prodded at it until I figured I should go and fetch the men (who had no watch on them) from the other dig. I set off!

I found the men in chamber Z1, trying to locate the passage onward, which was obscured by rubble. They had had limited success! They had also tried to improve the entrance into the chamber. But now it was time to go back up.

We appeared at the meeting place a few minutes late. I could hear Paul from a distance! But saw nothing. I followed the sound and found the men ascending the ladderway. They were a few minutes late too! And Paul's sounds had not been a greeting; just sounds. But it all worked out.

We had left three men in the car park but found four emerging; one chap had been a bit late, and we had missed him. He was quite happy to have gone with Paul, though, so no damage was done. Maybe starting in the dig is a bit much of a good thing!

As usual, we had all had a good night. I could tell, though, that I was getting worn down; on the way back I couldn't work out anymore what the levers at the streering column did. I remembered they controlled window wipers and light, but I couldn't remember which one did what when you pushed it what way. That has never happened to me before! Oh well, only two more lectures to go. And then next week I would probably forget how the pedals worked, but after that I should be fine!

No comments: