Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Good morning from Weardale.

As predicted, yesterday went through the weather spectrum here in North England. Started out sunny, clouded over, got drippy by mid afternoon, turned into a brief but intense downpour (with accompanying thunder and lightning) about the time we returned to the cottage in the evening, and then cleared up almost completely in time for the full moon to rise above the moors. Sunset was dramatic and is the subject of today's electronic postcard. This morning dawned clear and cloudless, but they are moving in already so perhaps we're in for some sort of a repeat performance.

Yesterday morning Dave had to put in some time at his school maintenance job so wasn't available until noon. He was in need of a ride to the mine afterwards so I volunteered to be the taxi. Byron went in at the usual time to do some chain sawing and I took the opportunity of a couple free hours to make a quick stop by Killhope to say hello to the curator Ian and see the new mineral and spar box exhibits. Jonina had an almost interminable list of errands to run and hit the road early.

Picked up Dave at the appointed hour and found Byron busy slicing and dicing some of the large specimen-containing rocks in the West Cross Cut. This isn't the easiest thing to do underground due to such factors as cramped working space, poor lighting, and the ever-present mud, which will cause the most carefully placed specimen to slide about under the pressure of the saw. Unfortunately, until we get the mess we made in the east tunnel mucked out the saw unit is trapped inside the mine. He had been at the saw for several hours by the time we got there and decided to take a lunch break, so I got Dave in there and consulted with him on how to attack the fluorite-covered wall that makes up the northern boundary of the zone. The fluorite appears to have crystallized almost directly on unaltered, unfractured limestone, making removal by hand in anything other than little bits virtually impossible. We decided the best approach would be to drill a series of holes behind and parallel to the face, and then use the feather and wedge sets to split the face away. Sounded good in theory, but in application became anything but straight forward. By the end of the day we had managed to get a bunch of holed drilled and a couple pieces split away. There's one sizeable portion that forms a downward hanging lip about midway along the face. The downward-facing bits are always the best, and this one looks like it has real potential. Now, if we can only get it out in one piece… Should know soon.

Everyone was a bit nackered after the day so it was a simple evening at the cottage. Jonina was kind enough to pick up some fresh salmon at the market so I put together dinner, and then everyone sort-of faded away. Today Jonina and I will be traveling over to Kendal to visit with Lindsay and Patricia and take care of some local permits. Byron will be back to his sawing. Dave will have to be at his school job until noon for the rest of the week, but will get a ride in from Sandra, who is off work today.

Until tomorrow….

Cheers,

Jesse, Byron and Jonina



Another Weardale evening.

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