August 16, 2000

A beautiful day at the mine. Sunny most of the day with a brisk wind that sometimes was cold. It didn't rain on us but just a few miles down the road towards St. Johns Chapel it rained cats and dogs.

Today it was just Byron and myself at the mine. Byron went to work in the cavity cleaning out yesterday's lifters hoping to remove a rather large rock in his way of progress. Only one person can work in the pocket since the opening is about 4 feet wide and 3 feet high. He is now in about 6 of 7 feet and can reach in another 4 or 5 feet. I left him to do some odd jobs around the mine.

First thing I did was drag 3 X 7 X 16 foot timbers from the saw mill with my car. We order another 6 pieces. I hauled up, to the portal, three 6 X 6 X 4 foot timbers on my back and Cal haul up another 3 pieces on his back for timbering in Mick and Lindsay's tunnel.

I also installed a wire rope for a gondola so we can bring things down from the mine without carrying them and haul little things up also. This one is out of the way, unlike the last one where you had to duck at the top of the stairs. It is connected to the corner of the container and should make life much easier. After testing it I decided it would be better if the cable were tight instead of arcing down and will redo it tomorrow when we have a larger crew.

In the afternoon John and Marie Land came by with Alistair, the caretaker form the Bishop's Castle in Bishop Auckland, for a tour with Cal and Kerith. I was then in the process of timbering the arches in Mick and Lindsay's tunnel when they arrived. I went to tell Byron we had visitors and found him surrounded by specimens, they were everywhere. The rather large rock that was in his way was covered with fluorite crystals, on the back side of course. Another specimen, a penetrating twin on matrix, is the finest piece I've seen come from the mine to date. It is flawless and about an inch on a side, take heart Jesse. There were others as well, one piece looked like a miniature set of bar bells and others that are high "B"s and "A"s, a really productive day!

Tomorrow I hope to make some progress in Mick and Lindsay's tunnel. If we don't extend our stay we have 2 working weeks left and I would like to make at least another 12 feet of tunnel there. It will mean timbering along the way and that is time consuming.

Vitek will be working with Byron learning how to collect the specimens and sometime in the afternoon Dave and I will help wrap specimens that have been mined that day. It should be as productive as today was, he's in a good area with room to progress and it will take all of us to help wrapping and getting the pieces out of harms way.

More tomorrow. Cheers, Jim

Part 2

Hi All,

This morning started with absolutely clear blue skies and a light breeze but quite 'fresh' as they say here (read that as about 50 degrees). BBC1 said that we would have clouds building to severe thundershowers and thunder over the northern Pennines (us) but the day started absolutely glorious and warmed to about 65 by five in the evening.

Kerith and I had an appointment with John and Mari Land at the Durham Dales Center (DDC) at 9:15 a.m. for a private tour of the bishop's castle in Bishop Auckland. We had an absolutely fantastic tour with loads of running commentary and history of the region, John serves as one of the docents there and knows about all you can about the castle's history and its various inhabitants. Highly recommend putting the bite on them for a tour. We took a brief respite over at the city hall that Mari was instrumental in keeping from being knocked down when she was head of city council about 15 years ago- a 17th century structure with lots of little towers and a very aesthetic arichtechural style. The restaurant on the second floor is dedicated to Stan Laurel the comedian, seems his father ran a theater in Bishop Auckland for a few years and they have a very devoted fan club locally (his fan clubs are called 'tents') and show films the second Tuesday of every month for six hours. The followers of Stan Laurel are called 'Sons of the Desert' and the local 'tent' is the 'Hogwild tent'. The trivia you get!!!

Anyhow, after scones and coffee we drove back to the DDC. Kerith and I drove back to the Drapery in St. Johns and had lunch and about 2:00p.m. drove down to the Rogerley mine to meet John and Mari Land and Alistair (last name??) who is curator of the bishop's palace in Bishop Auckland for a tour. Jim Clanin had dragged a bunch of timber and lagging over to the mine for use in the tunnels and I saw his ascending the ladder just as we arrived.

I put on my black gortex sawing suit and grabbed on the 4' timbers and followed him up the stairs to see what was going on. As I got up there Byron was coming out of the tunnel and just handed me a specimen - well what can I say 'wow' and best the mine has yet to produce, just a great 1 1/4" gem glassy penetration twin on matrix that elicits one of those instant glassy eyed reactions. I put it behind my back and had the crystal hidden in my palm when I went downstairs and asked the assembled group if they wanted to see a 'bonny bit', except for Kerith they were speechless. Quite a few other fine fine specimens came out today, cleaning out the debris from the lifters that Jim and Dave Beadle had put in the day before yielded several hundred specimens and a half dozen or so 'bonny bits'. It was a brief tour of the mine for the Lands and Alistair but Kerith and I stayed till about 4:30 helping pack specimens and going through the screen and hauling up some of the timber. The big screen has lots of green damaged fluorite in it that is just too too pretty to throw away so we are bagging in zip locks and I figure we can give a go at selling these for $75-$100 a bag, plenty of value and fun sorting out the fluorites and there are at least a hundred crystals and crystal sections per bag.

Vitek spent the day with Jonina helping her with the water gunning etc. and sort of learning the overall process necessary to care for specimens and how important the cleaning and trimming part is. We met both down at the Golden Lion about 5:15 with our special 'bonny bit' for show and tell. Anyhow, we are both very tired this evening and this is the first time since we arrived in England over a month ago that we have no house guests, the place is very very quiet.

That's it from this place a way way north of Lake Woebegone. Regards, Cal & Kerith



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