August 20, 2001

Good Morning and welcome back to Weardale. Joan and I arrived yesterday from California to help out with the last couple weeks of the mining season. It's really amazing to get up in San Francisco one morning, catch a plane and arrive in England in what seems like the same morning. The trip was mercifully uneventful, if filled with the usual crowded lines, delays, and grumpy, overworked airline employees. It's a pity that air travel these days has become something to be endured rather than enjoyed. I do it only because it's something I have to put up with to get where I want to go. Upon arriving in Weardale and slowly settling into the pace of life here, the experience fades quickly, however.

Arrived yesterday morning at London Heathrow to pouring rain, which accompanied us a good bit of the drive north. Once in the Dale, the weather became the familiar summer routine of partially overcast with alternating spells of rain and sun. Made a stop at the Golden Loin to see if any of the crew was in attendance, but no one was to be found. I thought the folks may stop in for Sunday brunch, but it seems that business has been so slow - largely due to the foot and mouth epidemic keeping people out of the country side - that they are no longer doing them at the pub. Ken, a local shepherd and frequenter of the pub was there, so we had a quick pint and caught up on life in the Dale. Seems that Jonina, and her two interns Ayla, and Veronica went out with him yesterday for a day of sheep shearing. Evidently, Jonina got quite good at it by the end of the day, and promises to recount the story for us in an e-mail sometime soon.

The beer reminded us that we had been up for over 24 hours by that time, so we checked in at the cottage we've rented just down the road in Daddry Shield and had a nap. The cottage is a converted ore dressing building near the entrance to one of the many old mines in the area, and is, appropriately known as "The Mine House". The cottage adjoins the house where owners Bob and Mary Coates live, and is a wonderful old stone building. Having recently renovated a portion of the building with the thought of bringing in some extra money by renting it to vacationers, they were fortunate enough to put it on the market just as the foot and mouth epidemic scared away most of the potential renters. Bob is a retired geologist and heard about our activities at the mine through the local grapevine. Late last year he sent Cal and Kerith a brochure about the cottage, which they passed on to us. As a result, we now have a charming place to stay while here. The attached photo is of the cottage. The rental portion is on the left, with the glass atrium at the entrance.

Met up with Jonina and Byron back at the pub around 1730 and caught up on what's been happening lately. Byron, who predictably spent his day off at the mine, says that the Solstice pocket has been reinforced and is once again safe to work in - or at least as safe as crawling around underground in our muddy little hole can be. He is also in the process of removing a very large fluorite-covered boulder from the Birthday pocket, something I look forward to help him with today.

Went down to the Mill Race for dinner, figuring it was the one place serving food on a Sunday evening that would have no problem with Byron in his muddy, post day-at-the-mine condition. Cal and Kerith showed up a little later with a crew of their own in tow. Cal's sister, brother-in-law, and two nephews are visiting, as is Stan Esbenshade who handles some of our wholesale material. Cal was busy being the host, so we didn't have much time to catch up on events. His sister and family are leaving today so perhaps after he and Kerith recover from having visitors I'll get a report from him.

Anyway, we're on the home stretch for the season. I plan on spending the day at the mine and will be able to give a more detailed report on what is happening there tomorrow. Joan and Jonina are planning on making a market run. Joan wants to try out a recipe for pan hackeldy she got last year from Steve Thompson, owner of the dear, departed Rookhope Inn. This dish is something of local origin, and became a favorite of the crew last year, before the pub closed. After several years of struggling to make ends meet at the pub, Steve closed it this past spring and returned to his previous line of work as a medical researcher. The pub was one of the few places near the cottage that served good food and had wide selection of local beers. Hopefully Joan can prefect the recipe. I'll let you know.

Stay tuned for more…


Jesse and the Crew

Our rental cottage, the Mine House, in the village of Daddry Shield.

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