Friday, August 27, 2004

Greetings from Weardale.

Yesterday's weather was rather like the day before - heavy clouds most of the day, but it held off raining most of the day. Come evening, though, the wind picked up out of the west and soon it was pelting down. This continued through most of the night, but this morning the sun is leaking through from time to time.

Yesterday I spent the day running back and forth between the mine and the cottage with specimens in various states of cleanliness. First stop was the mine to pull the batch out of the overnight bath, then back to the cottage to apply the water gun. Unfortunately, there's no electricity in the quarry, necessitating the back and forth. On the return drive, I decided to take a scenic route away from the main valley road and take a few photos of the dale. Today's postcard is a view looking east from the vicinity of Westgate, with the old cement plant in the distance.

When I got to the cottage I found Roland Thomas, a London area collector had stopped by with his wife for an unannounced visit. He was busily looking through specimens as Jonina and Sarah were wrapping and boxing them for shipping and set aside several pieces. After selecting a couple more from the group I was washing, he made his purchase and ask if he could see the mine today. We made arrangements to meet at the quarry entrance this morning, and after a night of rain I hope everyone can drive in okay.

Back again to the mine with some specimens for more cleaning bath, where I found Byron working on the calcite vein we discovered yesterday. The vein had opened up and he had collected around five tubs of specimens. For the most part, they are plates and mounds of spiky, hedgehog-like sprays of radiating crystals. They're rather fragile and I hope we can get them back okay.

Around 1500 Swedish collector Peter Lycberg showed up at the mine with his father and two children. Peter had been in England on business and managed a couple spare hours for a quick visit before driving up to Glasgow for his flight back home. Peter managed to collect a few pieces in the short time, and the kids seemed to enjoy themselves, despite all the mud.

Back at the cottage, we found Jonina still in a specimen-wrapping frenzy, and the living room now choked with neatly stacked flats and plastic shipping bins. The countdown to closedown has begun.

This morning I guess I'm on tour guide duty, likely the last for the season. After that, more specimens to clean. Byron will undoubtedly be back poking at the face where, along with the calcite vein, there is at least one cavity of large purple fluorites exposed. After a dry spell, the main face is looking more interesting again. Jonina and Sarah will be at processing and packing again.

Stay tuned for more…


Jesse, Byron and Jonina

Looking eastward down the dale from neat Westgate

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