Westminster Spelæological Group
Cave Exploration and Investigation
President: Toby Clark esq.
Newsletter No. 2002/2 April 2002
This newsletter is published for the dissemination of information and is copyright ©WSG 2002. Articles are the copyright of the respective authors. If you wish to reproduce any part, please include the source.
Headquarters - Caerllwyn Cottage Halt Road Rhigos ABERDARE CF44 9UW Tel:01685 811080 http://www.wsg.org.uk
The Club meets on first and third Tuesday of the month at: Ship & Shovell bar, Craven Passage WC2. (Off Villiers Street under Charring Cross station) Normally from 7:45pm onwards.
ß Pant Mawr Pot - Straw Gallery
The caving calendar is on the main website. http://www.wsg.org.uk. Follow 'Club Meets' and 'Online Diary'. Members can access further information from the 'Members Only' part of the website. Follow 'Diary Dates' to check it out or 'Club Diary' to make changes/bookings for events
Contact mail addresses for the club officers can be found on the main website under 'Contacts'.
The cottage can be booked on line at www.wsg.org.uk ... click 'Cottage' then click 'Book Cottage'. There is also a multimap button to locate Caerllwyn.
The e-mail distribution of the last newsletter went well with only a couple of problems, mainly due to the size of the file on hotmail type accounts. This one should be significantly smaller. The Newsletters are available on the website in both Word and .PDF formats. Please set your preferences for distribution in your contact details section on the website…..
Those who elect for conventional postal distribution will receive the usual photocopied version. Electronic distribution does save the club a significant amount in time, printing and postage, not less, planet Earth in trees!
Club Admin and News
Congratulations to Toby (the elder) Clark on his election to WSG President and to Jill Innes on election to Honorary Membership - sounds like beers all round!
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For those who didn't attend the AGM and Dinner, the latest "glow in the dark" T-shirts with the new club logo were on sale. They're still available - price £10. Have a word with Jeanette.
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Please note that the arrangements for access to the WSG website databases have changed. See your AGM handbook or the website help files for details.
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The weekend of the Queen's Silver Jubilee celebrations (June 1-4) will be far better spent at Caerllwyn. The working weekend planned aims to stop the rot and bring the place up to scratch. There's plenty to be done and everyone will be welcome no matter how skilled. Martin Creavin is co-ordinating the event and plans to allot jobs beforehand if possible. Andy has promised a barrel and there will be a Barbie and some caving! See the working weekend article for further details.
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Over the weekend of the AGM, we failed to obtain any keys for OFD from the SWCC. There have been changes to their Duty Officer system - at present it seems to be that you should draw the key before 11:00 (although another report suggests the times may be 10:59 - 11:00). On the Sunday, the place was deserted! Clearly, the situation is a little unclear at the moment. It was briefly discussed at the AGM and the committee is looking into it. The SWCC website states…. "Please note that we have changed the rules for obtaining cave entrance keys from the Duty Officer. So that the Duty officer gets some free time, keys must be collected before 11.00 am and should be returned to the 'Drop Box' at the cottage".
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It is with great sadness that I am reporting to you the sudden and unexpected death of one of the great characters of the caving scene. Wally Willcocks died from a heart attack last Thursday the 11th April. Wally was active with the W.S.G. in the 1950`s and early 1960`s. Since then he has been a member of both the Shepton and the Wessex. For the benefit of those of you who may not have met him, Wally or "Black Wal" as he was popularly known, because of his large bushy black beard and long dark hair, lost his lower arm in an industrial accident when he was a young man. However with his good hand and hook he could cope with almost anything, including changing car engines and servicing carbide lamps. Although he stopped caving some while ago he still took a keen interest in caving affairs and appeared on Mendip from time to time. Wally leaves a wife, three daughters and five grandchildren. His funeral will be held on Monday 22nd. No flowers by request, but donations in his memory to the M.R.O. would be welcome. Wally will be greatly missed by all who knew him. Len Dawes.
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From Andy Sewell - (e-mail 17 April 2002).
Well it's that time of year again, another birthday approaches!!, this year it falls conveniently the day after 1st. Tue. ( Tue. 7th May). So last night at the Ship we decided we'd have a Tex-Mex night out before going on to the Ship. This will be a night not to be missed. The Margaritas will flow, and the steaks will be huge. We had such a fantastic time in the Lone Star State that we thought we'd try and recreate a little bit of that Texan ambience. So the time and place....... 6pm onwards Tue. 7th May, Texas Embassy Cantina, Cocksure St. SW1 just off Trafalgar Square, behind Canada House (it used to be the White Star line office - the co. that operated the Titanic!). Click on http://www.texasembassy.com Definitely one for the diary!!
The AGM and Annual Dinner
This year's AGM must stand as something of a record - the chairman says he felt the need to drag it out a bit as it seemed too short. I guess there was nothing controversial or those who usually question every motive were, for whatever reason, were absent. Anyway, we found ourselves standing around with two hours to kill before the dinner! The food was fine - there seemed to be plenty of it and the staff at the New Galtee made us welcome - there was even a barrel of Hancocks. However, the music for the dancing afterwards left a little to be desired. Thanks to Jeanette for organising this event again. Maybe we need to think about post dinner entertainment for the future - answers on a postcard.
One of the highlights of the weekend was the emerging tale of two of the club’s intrepid visitors to antipodean shores. The event was quickly recorded in the form of a song from the pen of Mark Baker and performed at the dinner. The text is reproduced on page 9 for posterity.
Letter from the Chairman
Welcome to the brave new world under the leadership of Toby Clark as president of the WSG. Many congratulations and long may he reign as our leader.
Although well attended, the AGM was a short affair, possibly the shortest in the history of the club. We were through in about an hour, possibly less. Perhaps next year we can dream up a very contentious issue, one that will keep us going all afternoon! Who knows there may be a prize for the most heated debate at the next AGM.
The AGM concentrated on the work in progress to reorganise the administration of the club and particularly of the accounts. Next year I am hopeful that a reasonably detailed set of management accounts will be available to highlight the financial strengths and weaknesses of the club and cottage.
It is important work and to this end, I can only repeat that if you make a donation by buying something for the club or cottage, please, please tell Jeanette Rosato so that it can be recorded. If you do not, the accounts will be distorted.
Also at the AGM and the committee meeting that followed, plans were confirmed for the working weekend over the four-day Queen’s Golden Jubilee holiday of 1st to 4th June. It is important that this weekend is well attended because the cottage requires a lot of remedial work before next winter. Please contact Martin Creavin for details of what needs to be done.
The mid-summer committee meeting has also been brought forward to the working weekend because it will be easier for most committee members to be there. At this meeting we will be discussing ideas on the future of the club, on the dinner, on the caving meets, in fact on any aspect of the club and all ideas will be debated, pulled to pieces and put back together again.
And there is an open invitation to you all, that if you have anything proposal to develop or change any aspect of the club or cottage, you should contact me and put your suggestion in writing, whether by e-mail or by post. Every idea will be considered no matter how crazy or hair-brain (they are usually the best!).
Now is your chance: please let me know what you think of the AGM dinner, how could it be improved on? What caving trips do you want to do that are not being organised? Does the committee not fulfil all the roles that it should? How can the cottage be improved and developed? These are questions to prompt your ideas and I will let you know the outcome of the discussions.
The autumn committee meeting will take place on the weekend of 2nd and 3rd November, which is the bonfire weekend. At this meeting the diary for 2003 will be finalised, as will the budgets for cottage and club spending next year. Finally, the AGM for 2003 will take place on 5th April since Easter is later during 18th to 20th April. Please take note for your diaries.
Happy caving and I look forward to seeing you all over the working weekend.
Jerry. 23rd April 2003
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Virtual Caving - a few useful websites with a caving flavour (Yuk!).
Bats in your belfry?? - or just batty…..The Bat Conservation Trust http://www.bats.org.uk/ is topical in view of the roosting bats at Caerllwyn earlier in the year.
You'll find the SWCC site at http://ylem.anat.ucl.ac.uk/external/swcc/homepage.htm
Want to get underground but can't bear to tear yourself away from London at the weekend? Have a look here… http://www.starfury.demon.co.uk/uground/
There's an interesting article on the CPC site at http://www.sat.dundee.ac.uk/~arb/cpc/century.html chronicling "A Century of Caving".
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Ireland 2002 August 10th to 17th a place to have great craic, and bring the other half and the kids. There is caving, fishing, mountain biking and of course drinking Guinness. Contact Martin McGowan if you are interested.
Underground Wales - Andy Sewell
One would have thought that by now Martyn Farr would have written every conceivable coffee table come illustrated guide on caving in Wales possible, but you would be wrong! It was with not a little scepticism that I picked up a copy of his latest tome ‘Underground Wales’ (Gomer Press £9.95).
It is in fact a very readable and informative volume, containing not surprisingly where Mr Farr is concerned some stunning all colour photographs. It’s main difference to his other books, and its uniqueness as far as I’m concerned, is with its very broad remit, covering every aspect of the subterranean world from well known and loved caves, to folklore and mining, and it covers the whole of Wales.
I particularly found the section on mining in our part of South Wales interesting. I had never realised how many small private coal mines there are in the Vale of Neath, or how beautiful a mine can be, for example the old iron mines at Merthyr have some amazing straw formations which are illustrated. The most surprising cave illustrated for its fine formations is Ogof Gonas near Bothestan on the Pembroke coast. A cave it seems, not often visited, requiring a 45m abseil from the cliff tops to gain access (!) but from the look of it, one I feel should gain a visit from the WSG over the summer.
The book is divided not geographically, but by subject matter, and all sites have a six-figure grid reference. It’s a book that you could easily use to show your non-underground friends to explain ‘why we do it’. Of interest from the historical, archaeological, geological aspects as well as the general sport side of caving, it’s available online at www.gomer.co.uk and I would suggest that the librarian gets a copy asap!!!.
LED's in caving ...Graham Adcock.
Blue and white LEDs have been around for a while now and for the January trip, I got hold of some blues and made up a block of 3, powered from a triplet of 650mAh AAA NiMH cells.
Walking up to the Red Lion in the dark, the light output was quite amazing and, on a trip into OFD1 the next day, provided more than enough light for the whole group to have got out safely. I've since tried some white LEDs with excellent results.
Of course, the Speleotechnics FX-LED headlamp is available with 7 or 14 white LED's arranged round the reflector. This makes a good caving lamp but my thoughts have focussed on the backup lamp that could easily be made using white or blue LEDs.
For an emergency light, 3 LED's are quite sufficient. No reflector is really required as the LEDs’ construction includes a beam-forming lens. You'll need 3 cells to coax them into life as the diodes require about 3.2v but the comparatively small current taken allows AAA cells to be used. Each LED is run at about 20mA so a burning time of 10 hours can be expected from 650mAh AAA NiMH's and longer for Alkaline cells (with an appropriate change in dropper resistor). Building a useable and rugged assembly will require some basic engineering skills. You might consider drilling the helmet and mounting the 3 LEDs above or below the main bracket using hot melt or epoxy resin and waterproofing the connections into the bargain. If drilling your helmet sounds too painful, mount the LEDs on a thin insulating block and either glue/bolt it to the helmet or make a tongue to fit in the lamp bracket. Angle the light down about 40° so that it shines forward when the helmet is on your head, otherwise you’ll be illuminating the ceiling! As AAA cells are approx. 10.2mm dia. and 44.5mm long, a 3-cell holder plus dropper resistor would also easily fit between the cradle and the outer of the helmet and a small slide switch could also be incorporated alongside the battery holder. The characteristics of the samples I’ve tried are close enough to allow the diodes to be run in parallel. For reliability, however, as there are only a small number of LEDs, a dropper resistor, say 68 W for Alkaline cells and 39W for NiMH or NiCd should be included in series with each diode across the battery. Note that these LED's are static sensitive and will handle only about 5v reverse biased.
A bit Heath Robinson?? - Well, that's up to you in how you build it but it could be a simple way to incorporate a permanent backup light into your caving kit. Of course, there's no reason why you couldn't put more LEDs into the helmet and make a more general light. That would really require AA or C cells and about 10 LEDs to make a useable lamp with a thought to better power management, e.g. a switching regulator. My guess is that you'd still need a conventional headset etc. for pitches and viewing those caverns measureless to man but this could be run from a separate pack. If you're thinking of having a go and would like to talk it through, give me a shout.
Tex-Mex - an Easter Trip. James Hooper.
"What about a trip to Lebanon and Syria?" Andy asks in between sips of Badger Best at the Ship and Shovel. After our previous, memorable trip to Iran last year it seemed a good idea. But it didn’t work out due to a lack of communication from WSG’s Lebanese contacts. "What about Texas instead?" writes Andy in an e-mail. Texas? Why would anyone want to go to God’damn Texas? Five weeks later I was there after a tiring, ten-hour flight, hoping to answer this question.
After a night out with local spelunkers in Austin (the live music capital of the USA), we loaded up a four-wheel drive truck and headed off to Mexico for the weekend. It proved straightforward to cross the border and soon we were in the developing world on Good Friday – fiesta time! Lots of atmosphere in the town of Bustamente and without doubt the worst alcoholic drink I’ve ever had in my life. As sun set, we (Andy, myself and two Texan’s - Sean and Becky) returned to the truck and drove off-road up into the limestone mountains.
We spent Saturday shaft-bashing in fractured, flora-covered karst. On Sunday we did a big cave, Pozo de Montemayor. It’s not just what you do though, it's how you do it. Two bolts at the top of the wide, 50m deep entrance shaft, big rub point, then straight down past several more rub points - no rebelays, no deviations, no rope protectors. Oh yeah and on 8mm rope. And that was the entrance pitch. After several more drops we hit the big pitches, 100m and 120m deep. The latter was "done" using the same tactic as the entrance – not something that Petzl bobbins are designed for. Sixty metres down, the floor, roof and sides nowhere in sight, Andy and I both felt THE FEAR: very hot descenders (literally) burning rope; the thought and feeling of falling to our deaths; both trembling hands squeezing the rope in a somewhat desperate attempt to remain in control, as we plunged down and down. Yes, it was scary. But what a cave: large, beautiful and with a fine canyon beyond a dry sump leading deeper into the mountain. We got out to see the moon rise and eat barbequed chicken round a roaring fire. Yassir (yes sir), a grand weekend.
Texas is big. Very big – bigger than Great Britain and Germany combined and to go anywhere you have to drive. The vehicle of choice is the ubiquitous pickup truck but for the next few days (after our eight hour drive back to Austin) Andy and I settled for a hired four-door Corolla and headed west across the plains. Motels, rednecks, many types of cactus, oil fields, gas pumps (filling up for ten bucks). Country music, cruise control, roads with far horizons, Lone Star beer, cowboy hats, bullets in the signposts… A highlight was a $100 meal in the white Buffalo bar followed by a drive through the Chihuahua desert beneath a clear starry sky to the Big Bend National Park. Here we bivvied out in the Chisos mountains, the former stronghold of the Comanche Indians, and woke up to freezing temperatures. The next day we visited an early 20th century fort and ranch. You do really need to drive for miles across barren nothingness to appreciate the sheer remoteness of these locations and a way of life not that far in the past. We then walked down the deep St. Elena canyon before getting a local to row us across the Rio Grande so we could have lunch and beer in Mexico (as you do).
Sonora caverns proved to be a real gem with the most spectacular helictites (as good, some say, as Lechuguilla) and other awesome decorations. We also visited Carlsbad (in New Mexico state and a different time-zone) where, unlike our Mexican jaunt, you walk down to -250m, admire stunning formations, grab a hot dog and take a fifteen second lift back to the surface. After several hours in the gift shop we looked at our watches – it was only five o’clock. So, we thought, why not drive north for several hours to Roswell, the site of the (alleged) U.F.O. crash in 1947?
After a night in a country and western bar and hundreds more miles on the road, we arrived at the Alamo where the Texans made a stand against the Mexicans. Victory or death was their rallying cry, resulting in the latter. We then made a similarly last stand in Austin (the live music capital of the USA) before Andy returned back to London to be greeted by a three-hour strip search on arrival at Gatwick. I, meanwhile, travelled north for a few days into a different landscape: lakes; rivers; green, rolling hills. Naturally I spent some time looking at the local holes. There are certainly caves in Texas and still very good potential (their induction caving trips are often pushing or surveying new stuff).
All in all we covered about 3000 miles by road – "everything’s big in Texas" was a phrase we heard repeatedly. Was it worth it? Ahtellyawhat, big ol’ Texas is a darndest place. Yassir a real neat holiday. Here’s to the next big drop (though hopefully on at least 9mm rope).
Hang-Gliding in Little Neath. G.A's. Caving log - 8th April 1982.
(Note - we were young and keen then!)
LNRC - (where else?) Chris, Dave, Rob and Graham.
Decided to take a look at the streamway below the Wet Loop. Not much water in the flood entrance. Via the Canal Bypass, inspecting the small tubes at the end near the N.E. Inlets. One or two places where digging might prove profitable. Mainly mud and shale infill in Phreatic tubes, one of them about 4' diameter. Continued on down the streamway to Bouncing Boulder Hall, Robert and Dave branching off at Genesis to have a look at the Old World Series.
Chris and I climbed into the roof of Bouncing Boulder Hall along the northern wall after seeing a passage in the roof. Looks virginal and probably goes into the high level series near crystal Passage. The tube was only about 10' away but wings would be needed, as the floor is about 35' below. A small maypole might do the trick, with a ladder hung down to the streamway - otherwise it's a case of a bolting session up the left-hand wall and traverse across.
Continued on down through Wet Loop. Many of the phreatic tubes and slots look as though they might yield something, especially near Cairn Passage. Took some time to explore Cairn Passage, pushing as far as possible toward the streamway, which could be heard, in the distance. Had much hilarity exiting back up the tube - feet first, as it was too damn tight. Continued to sump 2 and then back to Genesis. Met Rupert, Helen, Jon Goodier and Phillipe (from GSD) on the shale bank. Rob and Dave had already gone (their mars bars had been scoffed!) so we grabbed a Mars ourselves and set off for Genesis Inlet.
Beyond Genesis Gallery, the passage tightens and two flat out squeezes, then finally an excellent streamway squeeze opens out into a chamber with water flushing down an aven on the southern side.
We climbed a short way up the aven, chimneying side by side, to about 18' then started down as it was very slippery and needed a different approach. The next second, Chris wasn't there having fallen feet first down the last 15’ or so. As he landed, his feet slipped out from under him on the sloping floor and he landed on his back and head, skewing his helmet. He lay motionless under the inlet and I jumped down to find him in a rigid convulsion, blood everywhere, particularly around his left ear. He was convulsing rapidly now and I scooped him up and moved him away from the aven, which seemed to be issuing torrents of water. His mouth and eyes were shut tight and he was not breathing - just making muffled grunting sounds. I lifted his eyelids to find both pupils completely dilated - his face and hands were cyanosed - just the extremities being dark blue/mauve. I laid him on his side and forced my fingers in to open his mouth, splashing the cold water on his face and shouting at him.
He began to grab short panting breaths and the fitful convulsions subsided as gradually he recovered consciousness. After what must have been ten minutes or so, he made a few intelligent (!) grunts and his colour gradually returned. Looking more closely at his head, it became clear that the blood was coming from a large contusion on his head and not from his ear. There was, much to my relief, no straw coloured fluid.
Another half hour and he was able to move and with much encouragement (and bullying) from me, we got through the two flat out squeezes and into Genesis Gallery where there was some heated discussion as to which was the way on! Chris would have been quite happy to sleep there and I pondered going for help but quickly dismissed that idea as the others would all have surfaced by now. So, the bullying continued and we got back to the food dump and the streamway about an hour after we'd started out. A slow exit via the canal bypass to the flood entrance where, after a short rest, he made an unaided exit. Amazing how the cold water wakes you up.
We took him down to the hospital in Merthyr…"Oh! Another Hang-Gliding accident then?!!". He got a large needle in the bum and two days bed and bored (sic) whilst we spent the rest of the Easter break in OFD1, Aggy and Dan Yr Ogof!
The WSG in Cuba: 2002
Pete Jurd, April 2002.
It is always nice to get expeditions off to a good start and this was nothing like a good start. One of Beaker’s relatives had been taken ill on our last night in Blighty. He was left with no choice but to stay and put his family first. On the positive side, we now had enough room in the taxi for three and kit, just. Martin, Dave and I headed off.
At the airport we queued and queued. At the other end of the line we were hit with a double whammy. First, too early to book in and then excess baggage. Flight to Paris went smoothly (Dave pulled a blinder by managing to order wine). Lunch and then the long haul to Cuba. Never has such a collection of poor quality romantic comedies been assembled in the same place before. These were not improved by the fat French blokes leaning on my chair…
Having successfully negotiated immigration in a very swift time we were foiled by luggage. Martin’s caving kit had been lost. The decision was taken to have an extra night in Havana to wait for it. Bob and Evelio met us and dropped us off at The Plaza Hotel. Having changed we popped out for a quick pint (third of a litre?). Little evidence remains to tell us what happened in the following 40 hours. All I know was that I managed to make it bake to the hotel, 2 hours late, a little older and a little wiser (despite the rum induced necrosis of possibly half my brain cells). In the intervening time the tackle sack had arrived (urgently at 4am), and Martin and Dave had partaken of the gently, if rather warm, pastimes of tourists in Havana. Recriminations were made and we set off for Pan de Azucar.
Arriving in the early evening we were in time to set up camp, for an impressive sunset and a supper of meat (unspecified) and tomatoes. Next morning it was to work. The squeeze in Cueva Chiquita had yet to be fully explored and surveyed so we duly set off with compass and clino to rectify the situation. A possible bypass proved illusive so Martin and I returned to make the squeeze passable for the horizontally challenged members of the party (who shall remain nameless). This task having been successfully completed we pushed on. After ‘Hasta la Vista’ (discovered 2001) we found a crawl on to another chamber (Birthday Chamber due to it being Bob’s birthday - imagination never was our strong point). This in turn continued in to a further chamber called Castle chamber. The passage continued up a rather small, muddy and wet passage reminiscent of the Mendips (has anyone been down Flower Pot?). It ended in a low bedrock squeeze, which was significantly tighter than desperate. Martin felt confident that it was the other end of the Cueva Titanic squeeze. We await the survey data with eager anticipation… At this point we exited to pig (the less cultured cousin of pork) all round.
The following day found us with the task of surveying looming large. Bob, Pete and the Cubans from the end out, Martin and Dave from the squeeze in. Despite minor prostrations we got both Coco and Evelio (!) to the end and they watched the slow process of surveying through mud, water, crawl and squeeze. Back in Birthday chamber we gave up. Supper was Pig.
Getting the final part of the survey done occupied the next day (Thursday). We also descended a blind pitch in Birthday chamber. Less inspiring places are hard to come by. Supper Was Pig.
At this point our legs were worn ragged and our backs were stiff so we decided to set off in search of new hunting grounds. After a hot trek up, up, up we came upon several holes known to Coco. These were descended in turn. Ladder climbing skills were quickly remembered with the prospect of a 60 ft. free-fall beneath. Unfortunately none proved to go further than 100 yards or so but digging opportunities for madmen were numerous. Supper was pig.
Saturday saw us making a desperate bid for freedom, and the joys of a pig-free meal. We had proved the unlikely theory that you can have too many pork scratchings (an idea unthinkable up until this expedition). We headed off to a world inhabited by show-caves, disco-caves, roast chicken, Cray-fish, cold beer, prostitutes dressed in curtains and bottles of rum for $5. Most of the party managed not to make a fool of themselves. Our enduring thanks to Dave for driving home late at night; for avoiding potholes and drunk drivers in large cars alike.
Back at camp the realisation set in that more caving would be required from me. The area chosen was a bit over half way along the track. After scanning the cliff an entrance was found. It led to a chamber of not inconsiderable size. Another followed and we surveyed out before lunch (Beer, salmon and bread). After lunch one lead was killed and then Martin found a traverse to a window and further passage. After following it we left. Supper was pig.
Monday was taken up by Bob and Dave walking up onto the Migote (spelling?) in search of shafts. They found a large one and a farmer willing to help haul kit on the following day. Martin and I returned to Cueva del Punto de Pan de Azucar to survey and extend the new passage. This we did although we reached an end in a decorated chamber. Supper was pig.
The next day say a return of both teams to their respective caves. An enjoyable day was had by Bob et al as they rigged their pitch, only to find that it did not go. As compensation they received coffee in fish tins and eggs for lunch. I descended several pitches in Cueva del Punto and finished the survey with Martin. After we had killed all realistic leads we returned to the ubiquitous pig.
Another day off was required and it was decided to perform a tourist trip down Cueva Grande. I was very impressed by the swim, bats aloft and vocal above me. On the way back across the roof we even found a snake, its shed skin proof positive that it had been living in the cave for quite some time. Supper, for the last time, was pig (R.I.P.).
Thursday was our final caving day. We decided on a tourist trip to old WSG pastures. If you get the chance I implore you to visit the ‘two brothers’ cave, which has the most impressive formations I have ever seen. Supper was chicken!!!
The move back to Havana proved slow. While waiting and age for the ox and sled an impromptu base ball game was set up between Coco and myself. I am unhappy to report that the final score was 7-0 to Cuba. Eventually we were loaded and took our leave, promising to return in future years. Supper was at a posh hotel being serenaded by cabaret singers. And then there was the singing competition, dive, push-start Lada taxi, club and Coco taxi, but they have appositely nothing to do with caving…
Back in England the memories of the emigration queue have faded and I am almost able to look at a piece of pork again. The monotony of day to day work builds up and I dream of the tobacco filled fields and cave filled hills of Cuba…
After writing the article I was reminded of an extremely strange incident that I had omitted. It involved a coffee pot; one of the aluminium ones that force the boiling water up through the coffee (a percolator?). Evelio was showing Dave how to use it and it was happily sitting on top of the MSR stove. Dave and I were chatting about a minor point of cave related protocol when there was the most almighty bang. We looked up in time to see Evelio fling himself across the floor of the hut as we felt the impact of the flying coffee granules. A second later the top half of the pot returned to the ground having hit the ceiling along with the coffee. We never recovered the O-ring and it proved extremely difficult to have coffee for the rest of the holiday. The MSR was very bent (I believe a picture exists somewhere) but just about repairable. No one was hurt, this time. I believe that the moral of the story is that it is far safer underground.
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For those interested in the area around the cottage, this months TGO (The Great Outdoors - Ed.) Magazine, (mainly aimed at walkers) has a very interesting feature on the 'forgotten' valleys of S. Wales. It is based on a 115 mile circular walk through the Rhonda, Cynon, & Taff Valleys, that starts and finishes in Aberdare. If like me you remember the Rhonda & Taff as industrial wastelands, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by how quickly these areas have reverted to natural greenery, and how there is almost no visible sign of the mining that made the fortune of this area. There are some good photos to places that will provide an interesting contrast to our normal Sunday walks on the Beacons. You can just about see the cottage on the main picture. There is also an article on walking Ingleborough in the same issue. Andy Sewell.
That song from the annual dinner…..
(Sung to the tune of Rolf Harris’ "Two Little Boys"…)
Two little lads they packed up their bags, Flew off to Aussie-land
Gaily they played each summer’s day, in the outback, hand in hand,
Said one little chap, "Our route-finding’s crap! We’re stuck here and now it’s dark",
He turned to his mate saying, "This ain’t too great, We’re lost in the National Park!"
"Phil will yer please stop yer crying, it’s only a kangaroo,
Climb off me shoulders, yer not dying, there’s a spider on your shoe,
We’ll just phone up the soldiers, the Police and the rescue lads,
To help us back to the car-park, where I think I left my fags".
The hours did fly, no one came by, the tic-tacs they all ran out,
Eaten by gnats, frightened by bats, until they heard a shout
Up popped a guard, "I thought you were hard, cavers from oversea?
You ain’t got far from your bloody car, and a wombat’s chased you up a tree"…..
Working Weekend - June 1st - 4th.
This years working weekend will concentrate on essential maintenance and some advances. Andy Sewell has promised a barrel and there will be a barbie. There will be caving as well!! Bring the other half (and kids?) but more importantly, be there. The cottage is deteriorating rapidly and we need to take action now. Jobs that come to mind as needing attention are:
If there's a particular job you can do, please let Martin Creavin know in advance. Anyone with access to trade prices for building materials?
Other jobs waiting…..The back door and frame need replacing, fit a water heater (for the kitchen) in the old rescue loft, replace the window frame(s) in the kitchen and fabricate shutters, replace the gatepost - there are others!
If you can carry out a particular task, let Martin know.
Martin's St. Patrick’s Day Bash.
Thanks must go to Martin McGowan, for laying on a terrific spread. It looked like he was expecting Desperate Dan, mind you it all disappeared in about 10 mins flat. But for the best WSG St. Pat's party ever as some were saying through the haze of hangovers on the train back to London yesterday thanks must go to Pete, Adrian and Lucy Wynn and their assorted 'Hippy Chicks' who provided the live music with guitar fiddle and whistle's. How we all stripped the willow, and other such trad. dances, 'til the wee small hours. I'm afraid I'd passed out long before the table traversing, but apparently Martin made everyone take their shoes off as he'd only just bought it at IKEA!!. And even Pete Jurd got a
snog. Well done Martin. (Andy Sewell).
Caving Reports - (From the logbook)
Not much that can be reported here! There are 2 or three digs underway – speak to Toby.
Alien as it may seem to some, I’m trying to start a revival of Sunday caving. The AGM weekend saw 6 of us (Toby, Chris, Jane, Sarah, Pete and Me) in Ogof Fechan. Let’s see more of it!
Copy deadline for the next issue is 4th July 2002.
Thanks to this edition's contributors: Jerry Complin, Pete Jurd, James Hooper, Andy Sewell, Len Dawes, Mark Baker.
could should be here!