10 October 2016

Alone in the dig

Every week the question pops up where we'll go underground. These days, our digs are exerting a strong pull. Two other suggestions were mentioned but again, we ended up deciding for the digs. Surprise!

I was keen to go on with Miles' dig. David had made me a shepherd's crook; these are good for pulling out rocks from a safe-ish distance, so if you would dislodge something it would not comedown on your head. When we got to the floor where both digs are I retrieved the crook and went in. Quite soon I realised the crook was way too long for me to be able to wield it in there! I brought it to the other dig, hoping I'd find something shorter there. I didn't! But when I was there David needed a piece of equipment from another room, and I went to get it. With that equipment I found an old metal hook of some 20cm long (quite different from the ~150 cm of David's hook). That would do!

I delivered the requested item to David and returned to the other dig, armed with the short hook and a nice rod-shaped piece of slate. I crawled in and gently started to feel the rock in front of me. Some were loose! I started to pull those out very carefully. If you are alone in a dig you are extra cautious! I am, anyway.  The rocks I pulled out I either stacked them somewhere out of the way, or pushed them down the passage first with my hands and then with my feet. Sometimes I crawled back to make sure I properly got rid of them and did not block my own passage.

With the loose ones gone the other rocks became looser too. Soon I found out that there wasn't a big pile of them; they were just filling a space below another very big slab. Good! Big slabs is what you need. Soon I had all of them out of the way. I took some pictures. That's not so easy in such a confined space but I tried. Then I saw a bit of a space went on, forwards and a bit down, and only loose stuff was in the way. I tried to get rid of some of that. Then I took some more pics. The way on was obvious! And easy, as it involved loose stuff! The only issues were: to get rid of the stuff, and to move. I hoped I would manage to make the space I had largely emptied so big I could turn around in it. That would make it easier to come out again! Not unimportant.

By then I wanted a cup of tea. Tea is boring on one's own so I went to the other dig. There great progress was made too. I had my tea, sandwiches and apples and hoped the others would be willing to come out. David was having none of it; he was keeping pulling one big rock after the other out of the dig. I was a bit stuck in limbo: go back to the other dig and do something useful until the others were ready to come out, but then not encouraging thewm to do so, or staying, not doing much but having the opportunity to advertise an early exit? I stayed, but  not sure if that was the right decision. Either way, finally we all made our way up again. At the entrance Simon was wondering at a pile of H-beam cut-offs Miles had left there; he wondered if we could use these as supports. They are very strong! As we had to wait for the others anyway we demonstrated we could both crawl underneath their height. That's promising! But then the others appeared and we could head down and home. More digging some other day!

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