Monday, May 31, 2004

Good morning from Weardale.

After a bright start yesterday, it clouded over and dripped on us most of the afternoon, but never got around to a proper rain. This morning it is sunny and cloudless. At least the folks here might get one nice day out of their holiday weekend. Then again, it could be raining in an hour or so.

Yesterday, as planned, Byron staged a successful assault on the newly opened up fluorite cavity. It turned out that there was a piece of the plate extending to the left of what was seen in yesterday's photo. This was the first portion of the plate to come out and, along with Byron, is the subject of today's photo. The piece is a nice large, undamaged triangular specimen with numerous gemmy twins, particularly concentrated along one edge. The other portion was firmly embedded and took some excavation to get out. It was fractured down the middle so came out in two pieces, both of which will need trimming but should be quite nice. Also uncovered was one really nice smaller specimen and several tubs worth of other things to be cleaned and sorted through. Sadly, after pulling these really nice specimens out, the fluorite vein vanished. Looks like that was it for this spot so Byron's back into search mode.

While Byron was collecting the cavity Dave set to mucking out and drilling the face in the northeast crosscut where I spent a couple frustrating days chasing fluorite stringers last week. Hopefully, with the face loosened up a little it will be easier to move some rock. Even though Byron's vein pinched out I'm hopeful that there will be more in the intervening ground. Guess we'll know when we get there.

Dave needed to be back home around 1600 so we knocked off a little early and headed back up dale. Arrived at the cottage to find Ralph Sutcliffe, a long time local collector and generally nice guy had stopped by so we all had a chat and showed off some of the day's catch. I decided that I wasn't in the mood to cook so after Ralph left we headed down dale again to The Mill Race for dinner. Everyone had the Whitby Cod, and after a few days of moving rock around everyone also had enough of an appetite to put a good dent in the portion. I can always tell how hard I've been working by how much of one I can actually finish. Last year I think I cleaned the plate once, and that was after hauling 20 foot sections of salvaged rail out of the old Greenlaws tunnel for four days. Stopped in at the Golden Lion on the way back to check out the rock band that was playing for the holiday weekend. This was a mistake as we all stayed up well past our bed times. For those of you who have never been to the Golden Lion, it is a typical English pub with several adjoining but separate areas. I could not imagine where a full band would actually have room to set up, but they managed, and the neighborhood was out in force for the occasion. Robin, the new landlord looked rather harried but quite happy to have his pub full for a change.

On today's schedule, Byron is planning on firing up the chainsaw and reducing a number of rather large specimens laying about the mine to more manageable sizes. There are a couple in the West Cross Cut that are too large to even be carried out and will be butchered in place. This done, we can then begin mucking out the large rock/mud fall we had there last August and see what might remain to be collected in this area. Jonina, of course, has a new lot of specimens patiently awaiting the water guns.

Until tomorrow….


Jesse, Byron and Jonina

Byron with the good stuff.

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