Sunday, August 29, 2004

Good morning from Weardale;

The past couple days have been cloudy, windy and cool, but surprisingly, there has not been much rain. With the wind up, things are starting to dry out a little in the quarry. Yesterday was the first day in a while I could drive in without having to studiously avoid all the mudholes that might trap an unsuspecting hire car. As in past years, the temperature drops just a bit at the end of August, giving a slight chill and letting us know that our brief (and this year very wet) northern summer is on it's way out. Today is going to be one of those schizophrenic weather days - it is raining out front but still sunny at the back of the cottage right now.

Friday I spent most of the day selecting and cleaning specimens for shipment this week. Jonina was away running errands in the afternoon so I had the garage to myself and managed to find a few more pieces and a bag containing some good single crystals in amongst the remaining unprocessed tubs of specimens. Water gunning the single crystals is usually necessary to get all the mud and iron stain off, but it is quite a task to do this to the little things without painfully shooting oneself in the fingers as well. I managed to put most of that off, but will have to face it today, no doubt.

Friday evening Bob and Mary had guests over, and about 1730 Mary came by with three plates of "extras" - roast chicken, potatoes, broccoli and Yorkshire puddings. All very welcome as yours truly was getting tired of playing "refrigerator roundup". After dinner Jonina disappeared with a book and her stuffed rabbit (who she occasionally talks to), and Byron and I paid a visit to the Allenheads Inn for a pint or two of Black Sheep. The Allenheads Inn is the pub with all the old "stuff" (old tools, mining equipment, taxidermy, plates, shoes, etc…) hanging everywhere, and has been featured in various reports over the past years. Unfortunately, the new owners are slowly "cleaning up" the place and each time we go the clutter seems a little less. It has now gotten to the point that the place has lost a good bit of its former character. Too bad! At least the Black Sheep was good.

Yesterday Jonina went down to the St. John's Chapel Agricultural Fair, and helped out for a bit at the Golden Lion. Despite the fact that it didn't rain, which it almost always does for the Chapel show, attendance was quite low. Chapel show Saturday is usually quite a mob scene, but not this year. Local talk has it that the new local head constable is trying to make a name for himself and has dramatically increased "police presence" at local events such as this. According to Jonina there was about one cop for every ten attendees at the show so perhaps folks were too intimidated to hang around.

I spent a good portion of the day on bookwork for Joan and my business back home. One of the wonders of the internet is that one can now run a business from San Francisco and send out the monthly invoices from Weardale. Byron went down to the mine to do some sawing, and I met up with him about 1500. Just for fun, we spent a couple hours in the Black Sheep pocket and recovered a few nice pieces. After a couple years of digging in spots like the West Cross Cut, I had forgotten just how hard the country rock in the Black Sheep is. Everything has to be sawn out - not an easy task in such a confined space. I left about half a dozen pieces in the cleaning bath yesterday and will go down to the mine in a bit to see how they look.

For today's photo, we have one of the spiky calcite clusters Byron has been collecting at the main face in the past few days.

Stay tuned for more…


Jesse, Byron and Jonina

Something different from the mine

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