Saturday, July 08, 2006

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather changed yesterday, cooling off considerably. Lovely day, however, sunny with a breeze out of the west and a few puffy white clouds floating through. Today looks to be more of the same.

The red diesel still eludes us. I made a call to Watson's Garage yesterday morning, and John told me that he had half a barrel. Both Byron and I assumed this to be something like the standard 55 gallon barrel back in the US. Wrong. What he meant by a barrel was in reality more like a 5 gallon can. With practically every piece of farm equipment in the dale currently in use for haying, the farmer we've bought from in the past had none to spare, either. The hydraulic power unit doesn't consume a lot of fuel, so if necessary, we will run it on regular diesel. The compressor, however, is a relative gas-guzzler, and could get expensive quickly if we are forced to do the same with it.

Without the need to wait around the cottage for return phone calls, I got to spend the better part of the day in the East Cross Cut, following up on the teaser of the previous afternoon. After a few more similarly damaged bits, and a lot of mud and rock shifted from the face to the tunnel floor, I finally managed to extract a nice large plate of fluorite, which looks to be pretty much intact, and is the subject of today's photo. It will need the matrix trimmed a bit (unless some would like a 10+ kg specimen), but promises to be a good one, with crystals in excess of 2 cm and nice color. Looks like there is more to be had, as well, but this will require moving a lot more rock, as the vein is heading behind a support column at the corner of the drift.

After the fruitless search for fuel, Byron spent a few hours in the West Cross Cut, which Dave has now tidied up for us. Said he was only coming up with wholesale quality stuff, and spent the rest of the afternoon washing specimens in preparation for wrapping and binning. Stopped off at the Golden Lion, which currently has on a very tasty summer beer from Jennings, called "Fish King", with a picture of a fishing eagle on the pump medallion. Back at the cottage, we had a quick pasta dinner and enjoyed the sunset.

For the weekend, we will likely go back to the mine in pursuit of more from the East Cross Cut. There's an old lead mine dump in the area that looks like it was never reprocessed for fluorspar, and on a brief visit a few years back, looked to me to have some potential for specimens. For a bit of goofing off, we'll likely pay the place a visit as well.

More soon,

Jesse



Nice plate of fluorite from the East Cross Cut.

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