July 29, 2001

Greetings from the fresh Pennines,

The weathwoman said it was going to be fresh today, turns out that means very windy, and it was.

About 10 in the morning, Kerith, myself and Richard Busch left for Barnard Castle about 25 miles to the east and south, this involves driving on small back roads up and over the moors which were deserted on a Sunday. We got to town but nothing opened before 11 so we wandered around and stopped in a card store since it was the only thing open and ran into Mel Hindin and Roy Foerster from the Los Angeles area. Both are members of the Gem and Mineral Council associated with the LA County Museum of Natural History. Confirmed arrangement to get together on Tuesday and by then what was open in town was getting started.

Barnard Castle is a great antique town but Sunday/Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday and Thursday are not good days to shop but Friday and preferably Saturday are good days to visit. We did find David Rennison of Castle Crystals open and he proudly showed us his new gas driven diamond chainsaw. I asked how he used it underground and he said he suited up in an aqualung, this because the hydraulic drive unit is so expensive on these saws. Still and all not sure I would want to be around so much gasoline fumes. But he had been able to use it to pull out a couple large plates from the West Cross vein, not great color but very good fluorescence. We showed him a piece from the Birthday Pocket, about the time Mel and Roy arrived in the shop, and all were suitably impressed.

From there the three of us drove up to Raby Castle about 7 miles to the north and toured the castle gardens, a quick bite at the tearoom and toured the castle when it opened at 1p.m. . The place is magnificently decorated and one of the drawing rooms is clear over the top for opulence, some great antiques, paintings etc. etc. More stuffed critters than I have ever seen distributed around including one long dead members Springer Spaniel throwrug -- seems she loved the animal so much she wanted to keep whatever part of the dog around she could, course after 150 years it is a mite moldy and morbid.

After a time we departed and headed back to Burnbrae to pack the food we were taking to the BBQ, about that time the winds became even fresher, clouds moved in and temperatures dropped to the point jackets were required but no rain and a good time had by all. Anyway, thats it from this windy place way north of Lake Woebegone. Cal

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