August 21, 2000
It was COLD today! So cold that it snowed just north of us in the evening. You might think I'm complaining but I'm not. We hear about the heat wave back in California and I'm glad that we are enjoying the cool working weather. The inside of the mine is a constant temperature, not sure what it is, but some days it is nice and warm inside the mine and some days it is nice and cool in the mine, depending on the weather outside. The locals complain a lot about how wet it has been this year, wettest summer on record! I think we have had a total of 5 sunny days in the last 3 months.
Mick and Lindsay's tunnel was ready for another round so Dave and I drilled 3 holes on the left side of the face in the mineralized section. We want to stagger our shots, alternating from one side to the other so not to over shock the face since it is so loose. The shot produced a lot on muck and it took about 2 hours to muck out. In the afternoon, we drilled 4 more holes in the right hand side of the face in the hard Limestone and loaded it with the remaining explosives we had on hand. The hard Limestone is cutting diagonally across the tunnel and there was more to shoot than we expected. Had we known, we would have had Jonina deliver more explosives than we ordered. The shot didn't break the rock as well as we wanted and will have to drill it again tomorrow.
There is an on going pocket on the left hand wall that keeps producing large but uglish (is that a word?) fluorites and large dodecahedral crystals of galena. The pocket is surrounded with a 2 inch band of solid galena and is now about 6 feet in length. Late in the afternoon, Cal, et.al., wanted to dig in the pocket but just to the right near the center of the face was a very large rock barely setting in place with another large rock between it and an even larger block resting on top of the heap. All were loose and so I barred them out to keep the tunnel as safe as possible. The large block on the top chased me down the tunnel for a few feet before coming to a rest. All this is just passed our last timber set and we are again working with no roof to protect us. Our plan is to dig out just enough to put in another set and tie it to the last set before we complete the tunnel. This will be an on going procedure till we are in stable ground again. So far, we haven't blown out the timbers with our blasting but now that the hard Limestone is crossing the tunnel we are worried that we might disturb them. We are being careful but I guess time will tell.
Byron has nearly completed sawing out the roof in the cavity in the New Drift and either tomorrow or Wed we will drill some lifters for him so he can finish the job. If time allows we will drill some lifters in the pocket from last year and finish collecting the fluorites in there also.
Jesse and Joan arrived on Sunday and came up to the mine today. Jesse was impressed by the work we had accomplished since he left in mid June. We are planning the survey the mine as soon as we know that we aren't going to push much more tunnel. Time is coming to an end for this year and we have to still pack the remaining specimens in boxes that Jonina has been cleaning, load them into a shipping container and close the mine up for the winter. This will take some time to do. The New Drift isn't going to extended anymore, just a few shots here and there to enable Byron to complete his job and I would like to have Mick and Lindsay's tunnel back into the vein if possible before we close down.
Lots to do, so I had better get to work. Cheers, Jim
Sunday morning started off beautifully but quite cool but overall appeared we would probably have a great day for a barbeque. We took it easy in the morning getting up late and reading a Sunday paper. About 11:00 a.m. Nigel and Pam Bryant arrived, our landlords here at the Drapery, along with their Bedlington terrier Toby who we all want to adopt. We had a light lunch of fruit, local cheeses and wine then drove up to the Rogerley mine. I opened everything up and we were just getting ready to go underground for a tour when Jim and Byron showed up. Introductions were made and we went for our tour while they collected tools to pry down some Frosterley marble and Stan Esbenshade wandered over the dumps to see the type of stuff we throw away. About 1:30 we broke to go back carrying a few garden rocks as gifts for the Byrants. Back to the Drapery for a quick change then up to Little Allercleugh where Jim and Byron had already started the charcoal for the fire, unfortunately we need more charcoal so Jonina had to run to Consett for another bag or two. In the interim Stan and I and Jesse - who with Joan had arrived from London shortly before - unpacked and water gunned fluorites.
The Bryants took Toby for a goodly walk and Joan took one too, sadly our weather was looking like it was going to deteriorate so the cooking was taking place in the coal room next to the garage. We were able to unpack and empty about 7 or 8 tubs of specimens with a few beauties coming out of them. During the process Jonina showed up with the necessary charcoal and for the remainder of the afternoon we cleaned fluorites and tasted English sausages as they came off the grill - need to know if they are edible -- till the chicken and lamb and the rest of the sausages were done. Kerith and Jonina had prepared guacamole, potato salad, deviled eggs, chips and dip, honey baked beans etc. so we all had a great meal. Things broke up about 7:00 p.m. and we all proceeded to fall into that stupor that follows being out in the open and eating too much good food before we sort of fell into bed that night.
Monday morning started out beautifully about 5:30 a.m. with not a cloud in the sky and I took heart that we might actually have a glorious day -- by 7:00 a.m. it was totally clouded over and the mist was descending and it was chilly. About 9:30 a.m. Kerith and I and Stan drove up to Little Allercleugh. Jonina was on a powder run for the mine so we opened up the garage to start some water gunning of specimens and packing up of fluorite to make ourselves useful. When Jonina got back she and I repaired to the kitchen to draw up the close-down schedule.
Jesse and Joan came in from Rookhope where they are spending Sunday and Monday nights up at Steve's pub. Joan says it is simple but comfortable and the selection of beers up there cannot be beat in the Dale, and as you know, the food there is some of the best locally. Jesse and Joan went off to the Rogereley mine and Jonina and I spent the better part of two hours drawing up the schedule and at the end phoned Shenker to start the ball rolling. Ian Jones answered the phone and remembered me from last year and Jonina reintroduced herself. We informed him we would, this year, deliver the fluorites rather than giving the trucking company 950 pounds to drive a total of 100 miles to deliver and drop-off the container. Reviewing last year's notes we sent back 2800 kilos - damn near 6000 pounds so decided to play safe and go with the same amount. Our bulk amount is down but we are packing a lot more into each cardboard box or container so amounts should be darn close. When we have the final close down schedule mapped out I will be sending it out for final review. About 1:00 p.m. we broke for a light lunch and just as we were getting started Peter Lyckberg showed -- he had already been to the mine -- though in a dark blue suit and tie he did not appear to have suffered the normal slings and slobs of mine mud I am so prone to.
We drove down to the Drapery to show off some of our treasures, he like others, says that the material this year far exceeds what was found last year. The large stalactite really enamored him and probably could have been sold on the spot but falls into the category that you "just have to see this thing" before it disappears somewhere. Peter could only stick around a short time so he took off for Cumbria and his real job of inspecting nuclear reactor sites for the E.U. Kerith and I drove back up to Little Allercleugh and collected Stan and set-off for the Rogerley mine about 2:30 p.m. They were getting ready for a blast just as we arrived -- Joan got to push the button, the fun apart of any explosion. Jesse had spent the time taking pictures and inspecting a couple of really really fine small and large cabinet specimens that had come off the roof of the pocket with nice sized lustrous crystals to over an inch with knobs and stalactites, a couple of just glorious gem flawless glassy twinned tns were found loose, these are as good as I have seen from anywhere at any time, sadly not dozens but a few. But, the material off the ceiling is really fine. There is about 2 feet of muck on one side of the tunnel that is about 50% loose singles and small matrix specimens of fluorite that really needs to be gone through but more likely will end up sacked into plastic baggies for fun and games going through it in Fallbrook. We left about 4:45 p.m. from the mine to go back to the Drapery for Kerith to start dinner, Dave Beadle and his wife Sandra were coming over for dinner at 7:30 -- home made Mexican enchiladas plus a casserole of cauliflower and broccoli and tomatoes and fresh hot bread, mmmmm!
Stan and I stopped at the Golden Lion to have a beer and were joined in quick succession by Jim and Byron, then Jesse and Joan then Kerith and when Stan purchased a box of pringles Badger, the chocolate retriever, became intimately involved in our group. About 6:15 all broke-up, Jesse was taking the crew up to Steve's in Rookhope for dinner and we needed to clean-up for dinner with the Beadles. All went well and dinner at the Drapery broke up about 9:30 and shortly thereafter all were in bed since the only thing on BBC of interest was a bizarre Australian flick men's naked butts being hit with forks to the tune of Waltzing Matilda, just a little too far out there when you are tired.
Anyhow, that is all from this place a way north of Lake Woebegone. Regards, Cal & Kerith