August 4, 2002

Hi All,

After the most horrendous weather I have ever seen on Friday we had a very nice weekend. Saturday was as picture perfect as Friday was awful. A few clouds, a light breeze and temperatures around 75.

Saturday morning we had a young meteorologist with his wife and mother stop by and look at minerals for about an hour. Then around noon, Kerith and I and Richard Busch got organized to drive west to the little village of Alston which is about 12 miles from here. Having never spent any time there, we were not sure what to make of it but the village - center of most mineral activity during the heyday of lead mining - has a ton of things to do. Antique shops, craft galleries abound, book stores, tea shops for eating plus pubs, an antique steam train which runs several miles up and back for a nominal fee, antique motorcycle gallery, a great butcher shop for Alston's famous Cumberland sausages, a bhudist monastery, the only vegetarian non-smoking guest house I have run across in England etc. We managed to pass the entire afternoon there with little effort.

We returned back to Burnbrae with a short detour to Killhope Lead Mining Museum to see the newly installed mineral display and touch bases with the staff about their visit on Sunday to the Rogerley mine to pick up galena and fluorite from the dump. Kerith had made a bean and bacon soup in the slow cooker and we had Byron and Jonina down for dinner around seven. Just as we finished Dave Rennison showed up to drop off another battery and light and another two light charger and show us a couple of fine West Blackdene fluorite/galena specimens.

Sunday morning saw Byron, myself, Kerith and Richard up at the Rogerley mine about 9:30 a.m. to open the place up, about eight showed up from Killhope for a brief mine tour and about and hour and a half of picking up bits and pieces of galena and fluorite and perhaps 50 or so large chunks which must wait for a truck. It was about noon so we closed things up so Byron could go meet Dave to check out one of the old adits that supposedly cut the Slitt Vein and the Rookhope Vein, both of which are long and very productive for minerals. Kerith and I and Richard made the hour drive to the Beamish Museum - a complete English village with farm, village, coal colliery, wagon house etc. Think of it as an English version of Disneyland's Main Street. There was also a Triumph rally there with lots of old Triumphs and quite a few that I wondered why anyone would want to own something that ugly. A number of other cars were on display too, the niftiest of which was a right hand drive Cobra, my choice hands down. Afterwards, we made a short side journey to see Causey Arch the oldest railway bridge. A truly impressive structure built originally to haul coal over this deep river gorge -- this was a wooden rail system used, long before steel rails and sleepers, the arch is massive and the first of its kind and the engineer used Roman designs to build it, has to be seen to be appreciated, it is breathtaking. By this time we had walked a zillion miles and all were tired so we drove home, collapsed for a while, had a few of the fine Alston sausages for dinner and called it a day.

Forecast for today and tomorrow is for bright sunny days and a bit of cloud, with mist in the morning.

Thatís it from here. Cal

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