July 10, 2001
Good morning. Today dawns still and overcast, though I can see some sky peaking through the clouds. The hot summer-like weather of last week seems to have moved on, but the rains have stayed away so far.
Yesterday was a bit of a "Chinese Fire Drill". I started out going to the mine with Byron intending to do some collecting in the sadly neglected Solstice Pocket, while he continued to check the new exposures at the face of the east tunnel. Water is needed to collect anything in the mine, and Byron had taken the hose from the west tunnel where the Solstice Pocket is located into the east tunnel. After a bit of fussing about, we had something jury-rigged for me to use, and I set to mucking out the floor of the pocket so I could have room to work. Dave and Lofty were working at the face of the west tunnel, doing some final mucking before another round of drilling, and tinkering with the track. As soon as I began with the water, it became obvious that my run-off would be ponding exactly where they were trying to work on the track, and would make it impossible for them to see what they were doing. So much for working in the pocket.
Not wanting to interfere with progress, I went around to the east face and helped Byron poke around for a bit. Nothing except bits and pieces was turning up, so I decided that, in hopes of doing something useful, I would fetch Jonina for an explosives run up to the Heights Quarry. She and Bill had just returned from their weekend anniversary getaway in Keswick, and Bill had just left to play tourist with his parents who are still in the Dale for another couple days. After a brief conference to catch up on the events of the past few days, we headed up to the Heights Quarry. While Jonina hiked up to the magazine with one of the quarry employees, I enjoyed the view, which is fairly spectacular from up the hill where the quarry is located. By the time I had finished with my picture taking, Jonina was back with the powder and caps, and we headed off to the mine.
On the way in to the quarry, we stopped at the mill in hopes of finding Alistair and getting a bill for our timber purchases. We've used a fair amount of timber in the mine, and will be needing more soon, but have yet to get a bill. Jonina was getting anxious about how much we owe, but Alistair was nowhere to be found, so magnitude of our indebtedness will have to remain a mystery for a little longer. Got up to the mine and found Dave and Lofty ready to load and shoot the west face. Byron was evidently finding very little of interest at the east face, and had moved over to the Solstice pocket after I had left. While Jonina and I were talking with Dave, he emerged wet and muddy - as one does after collecting in the Rogerley - and presented us with a very nice hand-sized specimen, which was covered on one side with gemmy twinned fluorite crystals. The daylight fluorescence of the fluorite from this pocket is so strong that in sunlight the color is an intense purple - it is hard to tell that the stuff is actually green.
Heading up the Dale, we made a stop at Neil Fairless's yard to order some needed supplies. Neil does a lot of work for the Blue Circle cement works, which is right next to his yard. Evidently they had recently blasted through an ore vein, and wanted Neil to truck the stuff off for them. As they are making cement, things such as galena and fluorite are an unwanted contaminant. He had a few bits there for us, and offered to let us explore the dump when he gets it sorted out. The cement quarry is one of the few places beside the Heights and Rogerley where green fluorite is found here in Weardale. It would be nice to think that a few bits may have survived the blasting and dumping process. Today's postcard is a view of the cement plant from up at the Heights Quarry.
Stopped at the office on the way back to the cottage and found Isabelle's daughter Vicky just returned from a trip to Bali, where her father lives. In the middle of the floor was a huge suitcase, which she, despite being thoroughly jet lagged, was excavating to show off things she had brought back for various people. She also passed around some Indonesian bank notes, which were quite fancy and colorful. One, a 5000 rupiah note (which is worth around 30 pence, I am told) had an engraving of a volcano on one side. I guess this stands to reason, as Indonesia has more active volcanoes per square mile than anywhere else on the planet. Anyway, I now have a colorful, delicately engraved, almost worthless Indonesian bank note with a volcano on it.
Byron soon showed up, followed shortly by Bill with his parents and niece in tow. After a bit of a chat, we all headed up to the cottage and had a spaghetti feed. Fitting seven people around our little kitchen table is a bit of a trick, but everyone was soon fed.
Today, if things go as planned, I will be at the mine helping Byron collect and taking some notes on what has been exposed by our recent tunneling. This evening, being one of the local American "celebrities", I am to present the science project awards at the local school in St. John's Chapel. Should be interesting.
Stay tuned for more….
Jesse and the Crew
The Blue Circle cement plant seen from the Heights Quarry.