Mud, mud, glorious mud...



There’s mud, there’s mud, and then there’s mud.  There’s your normal mud, like you find in fields; I remember trying to walk my way across a wickedly muddy field one very wet December.  We were sure there was a path there somewhere...  It wasn't dignified.  The mud didn’t ruin the walk, but the memory of it does elicit a wry smile.  It was just mud.  The greater memories of that day are the amazing National Trust Property we were going to see, the red kites overhead where we were parked, and the superb lunch in a country pub afterwards.

Then there's mud:  Like the last day of a summer school (SXR260, anyone?) that had otherwise enjoyed dry weather.  During the week, we had looked at geology everywhere from Staithes on England’s east coast to Shap Quarry in Cumbria - I’ve blogged about that latter rite of passage previously.  The last morning was a practical assessment in a quarry in County Durham and even Noah would have been impressed by the rain that fell that day!  I was lucky enough to have borrowed a weatherwriter to keep my notebook dry, and I saw a lot of clear plastic bags being put to good use protecting other notebooks and hands.  Our boots got absolutely covered in beige mud created by pulverised magnesian limestone – it looked as though someone had melted a Farley’s rusk factory.  When we got back to Durham there was much changing of footwear before the afternoon’s further assessment and homeward travel!

Then, thirdly, there’s mud.   A couple of months ago, I was in a chalk quarry some distance south of where we live.  You don’t need me to tell you that (most) chalk is white – think in terms of the White Cliffs of Dover or the Seven Sisters cliffs on the East Sussex coast.  Chalk is soft and it pulverises very easily.  It had been raining earlier so the mud was shiny and you just know what the quarry floor is going to be like, even before you get there. 

Even so, when chalk quarries are not your usual habitat (our local quarries, which I am much more used to, are honey-coloured Jurassic limestones or grey Oxford Clay) the quarry floor is startlingly white and strangely beautiful.  Walking across it, it feels like you’re in the Antarctic, especially on a day when the wind feels like it has come straight off the South Pole, like it felt this day. 

How is this for mud?


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