June 16, 2000
Greetings from the Great Wet North. It's been remarkably summer-like (well, at least for the north of England) for several days now, and I think we're going for a record number of days without a torrential downpour. Isabelle says that this good fortune is suppose to last through the weekend. Maybe we should take up raising succulents and cacti.
Things are getting settled into a normal pattern of activity. Jim, Byron, and Dave are working well together at the mine, and unless there is some active collecting spot open at the moment, I feel like I'm almost getting in their way now. As I see it, this is actually a good thing. Byron says that the GBH appears finished for the moment and everything at the back is totally cemented up in calcite. I think we have enough of the purples to keep us busy for a while, so we can concentrate on getting back into the greens.
Yesterday the crew headed to the mine to muck out the new tunnel from the previous day's blast, and begin the process of bending and installing rail into it. Evidently, the rail bender we have in the container weighs far more than any one would like to haul up to the mine ledge, so rail is being bent with suitable results by wedging one end into the Eimco and jumping on the other. One of Dave's tricks. Jim reports that there are some horizontal stringers of calcite exposed on the face of the new tunnel, which I take as a good sign that we may be heading toward mineralized ground. I need to take some quick bearings to keep the tunnel headed in the right direction, so I'll get a look today.
Jonina and I spent the day trying to get organized and caught up with cleaning material. With hammer in hand, my task was to trim specimens of excess matrix and broken crystals, and to generally beat them into a presentable form. As these purple fluorites are on a polycrystalline matrix of fluorite and not the silicified limestone of the green pocket, their behavior under the rock hammer is a bit more unpredictable. Sometimes you get a trimmed rock, sometimes a pile of bits. Most times it worked, so overall I came out ahead. Jonina washed specimens with the water gun, and we cycled through several loads in the crockpots. By the end of the day we had several flats of (more or less) cleaned specimens wrapped, boxed, and ready to go.
Jonina and I went down to the pub around 1730 figuring that if the day had gone well, Jim and Byron would be there shortly. Found Isabelle, Kirsty, James (Kirsty's boyfriend/husband - I don't know if they are actually married), and Isabelle's youngest daughter (who's name I forget) having tea outside on a picnic table. Kirsty was about to leave for the hospital where they were going to induce labor, and was quite nervous. Jim and Byron soon drove up, and after joining the conversation, we had quite a gathering. Jeffery (the pub manager and Isabelle's boyfriend) soon came out to scold Isabelle about having more customers in the parking lot than in the pub. Everyone had a good laugh, and we moved the conversation inside. After a beer, we decided to go down to Wolsingham for dinner at the Mill Race. Kirsty and James were heading off to the hospital, and everyone wished her luck.
On the way back from Wolsingham we stopped to pick up the Peugeot, which Jim had left at the Golden Lion. Mark Rennison pulled up and proceeded to show us a 23 ct. faceted amber/yellow Hilton mine fluorite he had just received back from the cutter. Nice stone, evidently from a dinged up crystal he found on the mine dump. Jonina was planning on us going to Barnard Castle today with some flats of material to show him, but he said he wouldn't be at the shop. He said he would stop by the cottage in the evening, but as this is the third time he has said this in a couple of weeks, I'll believe it when I see the whites of his eyes.
More track-laying is on the schedule today for Jim and Byron, and hopefully, the resurrection of the compressor will begin. In the absence of any outside comment on our plan, we have decided to sell the beast as soon as it is running again. Mick said he will get us information on several trades where we can advertise it. Besides stopping by the mine for a bit, I plan on assisting Jonina with numerous errands for the day. Jeremy and Phillippa have invited us all over for dinner, and if the weather holds, it should be a nice evening in the dales.
This is my last report for this trip as I fly back to San Francisco tomorrow, so the narrative will have to be continued by others. Hopefully, we are under way and headed to another productive season at the mine.
Jesse, Jim, Byron, and Jonina