June 1, 2001

Good Morning. I understand things are a bit warm back in California at the moment. If you need to cool off, close your eyes for a minute and envision the scene from Little Allercleugh: Dawn was fairly clear, but clouds have since moved in. Here in the upper Dale I can still see patches of blue sky, but as I look east toward Wolsingham (and the mine) the clouds look dark and ominous. Probably going to rain. The wind is brisk but not quite approaching the normal gale conditions up here in the hillside. Temperature outside is likely in the low to mid-50’s F. Hope that helps.

Yesterday was a full day at the mine for Byron and I. Started the day by picking up a wheelbarrow we had ordered from Neil Fairless. The spot where we park our cars when going to the mine is about a quarter mile from the mine itself. The walk in and out is quite pleasant, and gives one a chance to check out the wildflowers, which bloom in profusion in the quarry throughout the summer. The only drawback to this scenario comes when we have to carry out the day’s take at the mine. A plastic tub full of newspaper-wrapped specimens can weigh quite a bit to begin with, and after careful experimentation I’ve decided that one of the yet-undescribed physical laws of the universe holds that any heavy object being transported manually will increase in mass during the process in direct proportion to the distance it is being carried. Hence the wheelbarrow. The wheelbarrows generally available here in the UK are fairly light weight things compared to those available in the US, and wouldn’t last a week hauling rock and debris out of the mine. I think they will work just fine in preserving my back on trips out of the quarry, however.

The morning was spent clearing the last of the rockslide off the landing and preparing the spot for the hydraulic unit. This was the second day of shoveling rock and dirt, and as this activity is not part of my daily routine back home, things moved a little slower on the second day. Dauntless, we managed to finish clearing it in short order, and moved the massive wooden beams we use as supports around the mine into place. These beams are made out of a tropical hardwood, probably mahogany, and have been soaked in creasote. I am told they originally came from Madagascar. They were formerly used as railroad ties (known as sleepers in the trade), and were picked up as surplus by the crew during the first year we were here. They are marvelously useful around the mine, but it always struck me as being rather a waste of such nice wood. Maybe when we’re finally done with the mine, we’ll ship some back and have commemorative tables made for everyone. I suspect, however, that they would stink of creasote (think of old telephone poles!).

Took a quick lunch break and enjoyed a sunny warm day in the quarry. The afternoon was spent collecting at the face of the new tunnel again, and as usual, Byron’s efforts were productive. As I described a couple days ago, this area is rather brecciated, and consists of a lens of rock bits and fluorite held together with copious amounts of mud. This makes collecting fairly easy as the only tool required is the water hose to blast the mud out from between the rocks. Despite the broken up nature of the zone, many fluorite specimens survived intact, and we were able to fill three plastic tubs during the afternoon. As one would expect, a lot of single crystals and bits of fluorite came out as well, and we have another tub full of these. After sorting through for any cutting quality bits, perhaps we can sell the rest as exotic aquarium gravel.

Jonina spent the day at the cottage, and began processing the previously collected specimens. When we returned around 6:30 in the evening, our garage door table was partially covered with the results. At this rate, we’ll have it completely filled in no time. She also made arrangements for our rental compressor to be delivered to the mine on Monday. When we get that we will be able to drive the Eimco out of the mine, and move the hydraulic power unit into place. Dave and Lofty will be starting on next Monday, and should be able to provide the needed extra manpower needed to muscle it into place on our carefully excavated landing.

Everyone was rather tired and grumpy by the end of the day, so rather than worry about cooking, we all headed off to the Kings Head in Allendale. The Kings Head is one of the nicer pubs in close proximity to us here in St. John’s Chapel – only a 12 mile drive. The food is quite decent, and they usually have 4-6 real ales on at any time. With the closing of the Rookhope Inn, dinners out will be either here or at the Mill Race in Wolsingham – 12 miles in the other direction. The Kings Head is also a popular venue for local music on the weekends, and being a fan of traditional British and Celtic music, I was interested in getting a copy of their upcoming schedule. The one posted at the pub only went through the end of May, and when I enquired about getting one for the rest of the summer, the lass at the bar replied “Oh, we ha’not goot dem yet, yu’ll hav’ta check back later dis munth.” Nothing happens in a hurry around here.

As we’ve done much of what we can at the mine without the compressor, I suggested that today we go to Killhope for a visit with Ian Forbes. The crew has obviously taken this to mean that they can sleep in, so I guess I’ll make some more coffee and get them moving.

Stay tuned for more…

Cheers, Jesse

Still standing after finishing the excavation.

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