Saturday, September 1, 2001

Good Morning:

My apologies for the infrequency of reports this week. Between the daily schedule, and lack of internet access due to my computer screwing up, it's been difficult to get one of these literary gems off to everyone.

The past few days have been spent between getting things closed up, and trying to get Joan out for a bit of sightseeing. Wednesday we went up to Killhope to see the sparbox exhibition, and stopped by the Weavers - Michael and Mary Crompton who have a small shop in the village of Ireshopeburn. The things they do are really marvelous, and Joan was quickly loaded up with woolen place mats and table throws for Christmas presents. Michael also does large artistic tapestries and had a very large one on a loom he was just finishing up. This one was commissioned by someone in Utah, and depicted an abstract desert landscape.

After a brief chat I dropped Joan off at our cottage and headed off to the mine to update the map with this year's workings. Upon arriving I found that Byron, despite the decision to stop collecting on Tuesday, had managed to pull a large plate out of the middle of the Black Sheep pocket. Seems that this one had been taunting him since last year, and he finally decided to go for it. I really think that he just couldn't stand the idea that he hadn't collected the last official specimen of the year. He also got out a nice specimen with multiple stalactites on it, which I hope to take to the Munich show as the show theme this year is stalactites and cave formations.

Things turned rainy on Thursday. Byron and the crew spent the day closing up the mine, and Jonina finished packing specimens to be shipped back, and did the weekly accounting. Joan wanted to see some of the countryside so we took a drive up to the Northumberland coast. First stop was the picturesque fishing village of Craster. Had a wonderful lunch of local crab soup and kippers at a pub called the Jolly Fisherman, and then took a walk along the coast to the ruins of Dunstanburgh castle. With the misty, drippy weather, the ruins were impressive and suitably eerie. Continued driving north, stopping in another fishing village, Seahouses. This one was rather touristy, with numerous garish takeaway fish and chips stalls, nick-nack shops, and ice cream vendors. All the ice cream carts were parked away in an alley, no doubt due to the fact that the weather that day was hardly an inducement to consume something cold. Found a real nice pub, called the Old Ship, which true to the name was decorated with all manner of nautical items. They also had eight different beers on, and if I had not been driving would have been the perfect place to pass a rainy afternoon. The final stop was at Bamburgh, which sports another castle. This one, unlike Dunstanburgh is inhabited. Evidently it was restored during Victorian times, and is still in private hands. We arrived too late to take a tour, but walked around the outside and down the broad sandy beach that fronts it. The clouds were starting to break by that time, and the view was impressive.

Friday was load out day. Joan and I showed up at the King's Head in St. John's Chapel around 0720 to find Allistair waiting with a load of personally delivered palates for us. The rest of the crew showed up shortly there after, along with the truck and one of Dave Featherstone's drivers. Five palates and numerous bins of our summer's take were loaded in short order. The rain returned but fortunately held off until we were finishing up, and a tarp was quickly thrown over the load. Drove with Byron to the transfer point in Durham, and by 1100 the container was loaded and the seals put on the door. Mining officially done for the season.

Everyone met up at the Golden Lion around 1700 for a pint (or two) and a going away chat. Dave and Lofty seemed quite tired after several months of hard work, but happy and both seem eager to work for us again next summer.

This morning I'm planning on taking a few of the season's specimens by the Killhope mineral show for display, and we are then going over to Kendal pay a social call on Lindsay and Patricia. Joan heads back on Monday, and the rest of us a few days later. Hopefully I'll get another communication out before then.


Jesse and the crew

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