July 11, 2001

Good Morning all. You will be relieved to know that the weather here is finally getting back to normal. Yesterday we had a series of rain squalls pass through the Dale, with brief sunny spells between. The only unusual thing is that it hasn't gotten very cold yet. Today looks as if we are in for more of the same.

Spent most of the day at the mine, helping Byron with the Solstice pocket, while Dave and Lofty mucked the west face. The mucking was going slow at first because Monday's blast had left a couple exceeding large rocks lying in front of the muck pile. Dave was a little disconcerted as he was sure the charges set in a fashion that would avoid this. Nothing seems to stop him for long in the mine, and he soon had the rocks mucked out of the mine despite their size.

When I arrived at the mine, Byron was already busy in the pocket. I spent the first part of the day searching out piles of specimens he has left around the mine in recent days, and wrapping them in newspaper for transport to the cottage. Occasionally Byron would come out of the pocket for a break, and I would muck out the floor, which fills quickly with rock and mud when someone is collecting inside. The track for the Eimco is very close to the opening of the pocket, and one has to take care not to cover it with rocks when mucking the pocket. With the weight of the thing, I find it amazing that one little rock in the wrong place can cause it to jump the track. As Dave and Lofty were running the Eimco and ore car back and forth the whole time, I also had to make sure my feet were out of the way.

The Solstice Pocket continues to produce, but grudgingly. The pocket hasn't opened up yet, but doesn't appear to be pinching out either. There is still one horizon of fluorite-covered rocks, imbedded in our famous mud. Many of the rocks are big ones, and yesterday Byron extracted a big one, and a huge one. The latter, like the last huge one we butchered on Saturday has a face that is covered with gemmy fluorite twins. The size range of the crystals appears to be getting a little larger, and one may be up to 2 cm, if my eyeballs are properly calibrated. This one should give us another killer piece when sawn. Today's postcard is of Byron during the last round of surgery.

Around 1630 Dave realized that his lamp was giving out on him, and that he would soon be in the dark. There were no spares at the mine, so I gave him mine, and headed off with a load of specimens. Got back to the cottage to find Jonina in the middle of a bookwork session. Papers and receipts were spread all over the table, and she kept muttering something about her lack of accounting skills. I reminded her that she had volunteered for all this, but I'm not sure it helped the situation any.

Got cleaned up, and we headed down to the St. John's Chapel town hall for the school affair. The first part of the evening's events was a gymnastics display by the school kids. I understand that the school's Phys. Ed. instructor had put together a gymnastics club just six months ago, and this was their first public performance. There were about 20 kids involved, and she put them through their paces for about 45 minutes, to the applause of parents and staff. After this concluded, it came my turn to present the awards for the science projects and give a short, rambling talk on the benefits of studying the sciences. Everyone listened politely, perhaps if only to try and figure out how an American had come to be doing this in a village in rural northern England. I think the real hit was that Jonina had brought a box of green fluorite bits to give away to the kids.

After the affair had concluded, Bill, Jonina and I stopped off at the Blue Bell pub for a quick pint with the headmaster and a couple of the instructors. The Blue Bell is the other pub in St. John's Chapel, and I had never been in. A small cozy place as opposed to the somewhat cavernous Golden Lion, and very pleasant. Had a good chat with the school folks, and found that things are going much the same way here as in the US - no funding available for extra curricular activities, no school district funded transport for kids to go on outings, and loads of bureaucratic "red tape". I am told that the instructors must now get the parents expressed permission even to take a photo of the kids at school functions.

Said our thankyous goodbyes, and headed down to the Mill Race for dinner with Bill's folks and niece, who are leaving for London this morning. Finally got back to the cottage about 2330 and everyone fell into bed.

Today at the mine Dave and Lofty will likely finish cleaning the west face and do any necessary timbering. Byron wants to continue at the Solstice Pocket, and will begin inspecting the west face when the lads are done there. The next round of blasting will likely happen at the east face, as Byron feels reasonably sure there is nothing of worth currently exposed there. He also wants to drive a small exploratory drift westward from the west tunnel to see if there are any flats on the west side of the vein. This will require relocating the air and water lines running the length of the tunnel, as they are, of course, right in the way of where he wants the tunnel to go.

Stay tuned for more….


Jesse and the Crew

Byron practicing surgery on a specimen.

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