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Gold Panning
Written by Mark Millard   

I heard an interview recently with a gold panner called Daisy. She described beautifully how panning had enriched her life. Bitten by the gold bug from an early age - she was only 3 when her father first took her with him to swirl pans of gravel in chilly rivers - a life of enthusiasm, determination & a 24 carat romance was to follow.

This was her story, as she told it...

 

You really can find gold in Britain, anyone can, all you need is a pair of wellies & a pan...every time you get to the bottom of the pan and see a speck of gold it's a thrill, because you never see it until the very end, you've got to get all through the rocks & the gravel, the moss & the mud & it's only at the very end you see the bits of gold sparkling at you.

If you're lucky, if you've worked really hard and you're really lucky and you can actually pick it up it means you've got an excellent nugget, but mostly they're speckles which stick to your finger and you add to your hoard.

I had a hoard kept under the floorboards but I used it all up to make the wedding rings for me & my husband, all the gold I'd collected since I was tiny went into the rings and my father gave us the rest as a wedding present.

I lured my husband into it, I took him to Spain, lots of panners from all over the world meet for championships, from about 19 nations and we meet in a different one each year, and in Spain he found his first flecks.

It's a bit cold & icy at the moment but come the Spring I'll be out there, tutoring gold panning courses, it's a wonderful thing to do, I've met some of the loveliest people and you always find something.

Gold is a mysterious thing, its exquisite & potent, it is wealth but it is something more than that, when you read Beowulf, its not just money or the wealth of kings, which is amazing enough, but it talks about it as if it's a fluid, almost as if its alive.

It's a funny thing, when you see gold in jewellry shops it is shiny & yellow & expensive, but when you find it in the wild, for real it just glitters and it's wonderful...and wearing it, the ring made from gold I'd collected all my life, it's such a special thing, I'm looking at it right now and it's such a rich, buttery colour, it's nearly as pure as you could get and it just shines, its better than anything you could buy.

Panning is hard work, you need strong back muscles and a certain amount of doggedness & bloody mindedness to get you through it because it is manual labour, gravel is heavy and gravel with water is really, really heavy.

You've got to be tenacious to do gold panning. Because its hard to find you've got to move quite a bit of gravel around and by the end of the day mosquitos are biting, you're probably hungry and cold, your arms are aching, your legs are aching and you've probably got water in your clothes and you're tired.

But every time you get to the bottom of a pan, your back hurts and your head hurts and you do your last couple of waves, because you never know if you've got some or not until the end, and when there is some that happiness never diminishes no matter how tired you are.

Tents and Potnoodles gold panning were my childhood experiences, but I'd never change it, if I'd spent my time playing computer games or going to the cinema I'd never have the memories I've got now, and I'd never have the wedding ring either.

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