Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Greetings from Weardale.

Yesterday the weather here was fairly typical of this summer. Morning came with a fair breeze and scattered clouds. Looked like a nice day here in the dale. About noon a huge black mass of clouds moved in from the west. The resulting rain was surprisingly light here in the upper dale but was torrential further to the east. By evening we were back to the scattered clouds and had a lovely sunset. This morning is dark and overcast. Whether we're in for more rain or a nice day, only time will tell.

Last weekend I made the drive down to London to take Joan to Heathrow airport for her trip home, and stopped to visit with Mark Wrigley on the way back. He has recently acquired a large fluorite collection and I had a chance to look through some of it and make a few selections. Given the size of it, I guess there will be fluorites from world-wide locations moving through his website for quite a while. Monday morning I waited until around 1000 to hit the road from Reading (near London) hoping to miss the worst of the Monday morning traffic. I'll never know if this was a good idea or not, as the rain moved in shortly thereafter, and what is normally a four hour drive back to Weardale turned into a six hour ordeal trying to stay out of the muddy spray kicked up by all the lorries on the M1 motorway.

I understand that Byron wasn't having a much better time of it back at the mine. He had planned on spending the weekend with the chainsaw, carving up all the large fluorite-containing blocks that are now littering the tunnels. Unfortunately, one of the hydraulic lines on the saw burst early on in the process, laying rest to those plans. The real pisser about this is that last year we purchased a new set of hydraulic connectors for the saw, but despite the fact that they were supposedly for our model saw, they didn't fit correctly. Byron was forced to continue using one of the old connectors, which is the one that burst. Byron says that there's a fellow here who can adapt the new one to the saw, but this takes time (and money), so it is unknown if we will have use of the saw before we close for the season.

Yesterday I spent the day in the garage cleaning and trimming specimens to be sent to our German dealer Jürgen for this fall's Munich show. By sending a box from the UK we can avoid paying the customs charges we are hit with each time I send him specimens from home. To do this, though, I have to do much more cleaning and trimming of the pieces than we would normally do if they were being sent back to California. During the middle of the afternoon I had to take a break and drive some needed supplies to the mine. It wasn't raining at the cottage when I left, but by the time I reached Stanhope it was pouring down, and getting in and out of the quarry was a slippery task as the track in had turned into an instant fast-flowing stream.

Dave's wife and two daughters are away in holiday this week so he had a rare chance to stop by the pub on the way home and have a beer and some chat with Byron and me. Afterwards, I got dinner on for the troops back at the cottage. Byron must have been hungry, as he licked his plate clean!

Today Jonina and Sarah will start their final assault on the garage. There are about a dozen tubs of specimens waiting to be unwrapped and cleaned, and Jonina has forbidden any more collecting for the season unless the specimens are real good. This hasn't stopped Byron in years past, though. I'll be wrapping and boxing specimens for shipment, and we are expecting a visit from Peter Lycberg and family at some point.

Today's photo is of one of the nice bits I cleaned up yesterday.

Cheers,

Jesse, Byron and Jonina



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