August 18, 2001

Greeting from the Pennines,

We've had a good run of weather, partly cloudy skies, temperatures in the mid-60's and the odd burst of thunder and a bit of rain. Overall, excellent northern summer weather for this time of year but it is predicted to turn rainy the rest of the weekend.

My sister, Erin, along with husband, Phil, and sons, Scott and Eric, arrived late Wednesday night after a traumatic drive from London with a map far too small and not detailed enough to guide them through the labyrinth of Darlington or some of the smaller towns on the A68 toward Weardale. Stan Esbenshade arrived midday next and since then we've spent much time doing touristy things but Friday was spent by Phil fishing (unsuccessfully) with our friend John Land from Stanhope and by Erin and the boys and Kerith and our friends and landlords at Allercleugh, Jeremy and his son Peter Rowe along with an editor and photographer from the Northern Echo and Ayla and Veronica Cubitt, our young interns, and Veronica's folks John and Cynthia and perhaps a few others at the Rogerley mine. It was Ayla's last chance to play in the mud before she leaves Sunday. A good time had by all though the hats and lights did lots of extra duty.

At the mine itself, Byron etal had managed to muck much of the blast away in front of the Birthday Pocket and hopefully, by early next week we can extract the large plate in the back of the pocket and see what else there might be; in the Solstice Pocket the mine crew had managed to widen the area between the arches and bar down a couple tons of tumblers of limestone and start the process of timbering to get into and at the fine plate in the back of the pocket. Byron continued to work away some in the West Crosscut and for his efforts got quite a few nice small specimens; he also spent some time washing the muck in front of the Birthday Pocket and this has yielded a number of very fine glassy gem twins on matrix to about 1"+. Overall very successful. Up at at Little Allercleugh it seems that Jonina and Ayla and Veronica actually got every single specimen on the table and in the bins washed so by Friday morning they could take the day off and play in the mine.

Today, Saturday, I spent with my nephews and brother-in-law, Phil, visiting the big castle at Bamburgh on the Northumberland coast while Kerith and my sister, Erin, elected to drive down to Leyburn and visit a teapot making factory. Tomorrow we plan on visiting the mine with my sister Erin and family and Ralph Sutcliffe is coming to visit in late morning. Anyhow, that is all from this place way north of Lake Woebegone. Cal

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