Depth through thought
OUCC News 29th April 1992
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Welcome back folks. After busy Easter vacation (various stories to appear in DTT over the next few weeks), an action packed Termtime looms. The Termcard is in the wings, so be patient. Richard wants to know if anyone can help out with acquiring punts for the punt party on Saturday of third week. Please, please, please see him if you can help, or we'll be in for an expensive hiring.
Deposit deadline: Remember that on Friday it will be the First of May, and this is the day by which you have to pay for your gear order and for the fixed part of your expedition personal contribution, which is £120. Give your cheques to Sean.
Gear: If you have not yet had a chance to look at the gear catalogues, and want to do so then come to Harley Road, where they are available for consultation. If you don't know where Harley Road is then talk to Jenny, Gavin or David.
Expedition medicine: There will be a talk on expedition medicine at 8.30pm on Thursday 30 April at 58 Banbury Road, organised by the Exploration Club. All those who have not been on an OUCC expedition before, and anyone else who is interested, should attend. Let's pack the place with cavers, and show the exploration club that we are a force to be reckoned with. M.
The Big Pit: Pwll Mawr
Having abandoned all hope of entering DYO after a eight of very heavy rain (and drinking, ed) a small band of OUCC cavers sought some alternate underground adventure last week end. As most Welsh caves were full of the aqueous stuff, we headed off to the Big Pit (Pwll Mawr) near Pontypool. Formerly a working coal mine the pit closed in 1980, but has now reopened as a mining museum. Having paid our f:4.50 to go in we were kitted out with helmet, light, and a "self Rescuer" (an emergency CO to CO2 convenor) then, having removed "contraband" (digital watches, cameras, matches, cigarettes etc) we were crowded into the cage for a 100m descent to the pit bottom. Less than a minute later we were there and our guide Trevor Williams introduced himself.
As a working miner for 40 years Trevor was able to give a comprehensive guide to the mine and its development, He started work in the early 50's and had seen the transition from pit ponies through increasing automation and the decline and closure of this and other "uneconomical" pits. The complexity of mine operation was perhaps the most striking feature. Out of a workforce of 1000 men, only 150 were colliers who actually dug coal.
Overall it was a very enjoyable and interesting trip, good value for money and a
creditable noncaving adventure. A similar museum has also opened in the Yorkshire
My over-riding memory of Yorkshire was that it was wet, really WET. The river Ribble was bursting its banks with torrents of gushing white and brown water that looked remarkably like frothy beer. The caves were wet with flowing and dripping wafer. What's new! Well, even more wet than usual. Above ground, the fells were wet with rain and mist. Even curled up in my sleeping bag. warm and cosy in the morning, I got wet, thanks to the Polish 'tradition' of men throwing cold water over women on Easter Monday. This event so the Poles lead us to believe, is an old Polish fertility rite called 'schmingus-dingus' (spelling ??). Personally I think there is some leg pulling going on.
Having the Poles around was great fun. For me, it was lovely to see some of the familiar, friendly faces that I remember from when I was in Poland, and to be able to by to repay some of the incredible hospitality that was shown to me over the New Year. I imagine that others, who had never met the Poles before, found the experience refreshing, fun and interesting. Despite the common love of caving and the outdoors, the cultural differences between 'us' and 'them' are noticeably large. Just being with them for a week gave us some insights into how they live; what makes them tick.
This batch of Poles were a relatively subdued bunch compared to previous batches, by all accounts. There were no mega piss-ups, just a few quiet, relaxed Vodka sessions after closing time. I got the impression that mostly people did slot of caving and were generally too tired m the evenings for mad, all-night drinking and partying.
Caves done (or attempted) include Car Pot, Rift Pot, Cherry Tree Hole, Dowker Bottom, Flood Entrance, Disappointment Pot and Pippikin Pot (twice). There may have been a couple of others that I can't remember. Usually there were two trips each day, with 3 or 4 Poles and 6 or 7 Oxford folks being keen to get underground. Noncavers and part-time cavers enjoyed(?) several days of walking in the rain. seeing the waterfalls at Ingleton, visiting Dales places like Malham and Settle, and driving over to York for a day to do some city touristing.
I had a great time and I think everyone else did too. As well as good caving and fine Polish and Oxford company (comprising new folks like Jim and Richard, and nor-so-new folks like Tony, Sean, Gavin, Joan, Urs, Mike and me), it was also good to see some old lags turn up: Tom Houghton, Martin Hicks, J.C. and Paul B. By the way, did anyone find out what happened to Gerhard?
Lets make an effort to keep the Polish tradition alive (no, not schmingus-dingus). I
think it's very valuable for everyone involved.
Mark Crossley has managed to acquire 6 original 1990 expedition T-shirts, and 2 historic sweatshirts from the same period. These expedition heirlooms, once the pride of OUCC heritage, are now to be offered for sale in an attempt to bolster this year's desperate expedition financial position. Most amazing, though, is the price. Although these were once on sale at £5.00 and £10.00, they are now going for exactly the same price! In other words, they are totally inflation-proof! At a time of deep recession, what better investment could you make? Unbelievable isn't it? It almost seems like a total con. Well, it is. Still, the money does go to a "good cause", and they are great T-shirts.
So, where's the catch? Next week they are going to be £1 and £2 cheaper. See Tim or Mark