Thursday May 27, 2004

Good morning from Weardale.

It was rather a cold blustery day in these parts yesterday. At least it didn't rain. Still cool this morning, but the clouds have cleared a bit. But then, as they say - it doesn't matter what the weather is when you're underground.

Yesterday started off with the four of us driving down dale to Wolsingham where Byron and Jonina picked up the company cars. Everyone is now fully independent and mobile. We then headed to the quarry yard in Frosterley to retrieve the more easily transported portion of our new old equipment. It always hurts to hand over a good sized cheque when one does not have much in the way of cash reserves, but on the other hand, we got some almost new condition drilling machines for a fraction the new cost. On the not-so-new end of the equipment spectrum, today's photo is of Dave posing beside our loco, which he will be called upon to return to functionality over the next winter. Looks like a wreck but he assures me that it's actually in pretty good condition, and he has a lot more experience than I do with these things.

After loading all our new stuff into Byron's little Peugot he and I headed to the mine while Jonina drove Dave back up dale. Dave had to get home to walk the dog, thus avoiding the usual consequences attendant with leaving the little things shut inside for too long. He officially begins his full time summer job with us next Monday. After unloading the new gear into the mine shed Byron and I discovered that the recently re-installed plumbing was not functioning properly. This happens almost every year when we start up the operation, and trouble-shooting it is part of the routine. The way our water system works is that we have tapped into a pre-existing network of plastic piping that was laid out in the quarry for some unknown purpose some years ago. I know it was some years ago because all the hose and fittings are not metric but in inches, something not seen around here in quite a while. This means that hose and couplings that will easily fit onto the pre-existing system are non-existent and our tap into the old line is a cobbled together affair. This is the usual point of failure, but not this time. Another abandoned section of the old line had popped its end cap and was gushing large amounts of water into the quarry. As the cap had come off quite neatly Byron was of the opinion that someone had intentionally taken it off sometime over winter. Irregardless of how it came off, this necessitated a hike back out of the quarry to shut down the water at the mains, and then another hike back out to turn them back on after the repairs were complete. Aside from the time this takes out of one's carefully planned daily schedule, its actually quite enjoyable as one can check out the myriad of wild flowers that bloom throughout the quarry.

After returning our plumbing to functionality we spent a bit of time poking about the mine and discussing the best places to begin this year's search for mineralogical riches. One of the spots that appealed to me was a seam of fluorite exposed about eye level in our eastern cross cut driven two years ago. This is an exploratory drift opposite the northern West Cross Cut tunnel and as the West Cross Cut was being so productive at the time, little collecting was done here at the time. The other attraction of this spot is that I seem to have somehow injured a knee recently and collecting without having to sit in some contorted position on a pile of rock is very appealing. I hope it gives me something worthwhile.

Today I have received my homework via e-mail and will be busy assembling the monthly invoices for Joan and my business back home. Isn't the internet wonderful? If all goes well I hope to have some time at the mine later in the day. Jonina is still playing telephone tag with the compressor rental folks and Byron will start doing what he does best - digging.

Until tomorrow….


Jesse, Byron and Jonina

Dave with our new old loco.

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