Friday, June 7, 2002
Drippy and damp this morning - rather like it's been most of the week. At least it's not pouring rain.
Yesterday we played host to a Belgian fluorite fanatic, Jacques Legat and his friend Eugene. I arrived at the Mill Race around 1000 to pick them up for a tour of the mine only to find them in conversation with a fellow working in a fairly elaborate machine shop situated behind the Mill Race. I thought the shop had closed down last year, but it appears that this fellow has taken the place over. The project he was working on was a one-eight scale working replica of a steam locomotive, which was actually to run on steam power. Quite impressive.
Finally got them away to the mine and had a quick tour. Jacques was quite enthusiastic, despite being slowed by a recent illness and took no notice of all our mud and water. He said that if he didn't return home with some mud on him his wife Claudine might think he had been in Paris instead of visiting the mine.
After the mine I took them on a short driving tour to see the sites of some of the other famous specimen-producing mines in Weardale. Drove up through Rookhope, which is looking more and more like a ghost town every year, and stopped to see the Groverake site. The fog was rather heavy on the moors so it was hard to see too much. As we were leaving, we were flagged down by a couple of mine historians who had left their car lights on while taking photos of the mine. Gave them a jump and had a good conversation about what an American and two Belgains were doing poking around mine sites in Weardale.
After the driving tour we stopped at the cottage to see Jonina and look at specimens. After the requisite haggling he selected a nice large plate and a smaller specimen and left us with some cash, which was greatly appreciated by Jonina. Drove them back to the hotel around mid-afternoon, and made arrangements to meet there for dinner. I then made a dash back up the Dale to work on cleaning the specimens a bit, wrapped them for travel, and we all made our way back to the Mill Race for dinner. Dinner and conversation went on well into the evening, but finally realized that it was getting late and tomorrow was a workday so we said our goodbyes and wandered back up the Dale.
Dave is off today taking care of some personal business so it will be Byron and I at the mine. Byron got the generator and power washer up to the mine yesterday, and says that while it moves the clay and mud nicely, it also created quite a shower for the user. If we can find a plastic face shield at the local DIY, that will help matters a bit.
Today's photo is of the Groverake mine head frame in the heavy fog.
Jesse, Byron and Jonina
The headframe of the Groverake Mine, Rookhopeburn on a typical sunny day.