Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather remains cool and mostly sunny. Some heavy clouds blew through yesterday afternoon, but only produced a sprinkling of rain before moving on. The haying frenzy appears to have passed, so the sound of diesel tractors in the distance has been replaced with the occasional pronouncements by sheep. It will soon be time for the farmers to separate the lambs out for sale, so I'm sure these pronouncements will become more urgent.

Monday was spent helping Byron saw up my take from the East Cross Cut into manageable sized bits, though one remains fairly large. As if to provide balance, another that I had hoped to remain large ended up as two, owing to a large and unnoticed fracture through the limestone matrix. On the bright side, smaller specimens seem to sell easier, and I never would have had the courage to split it up myself.

After trimming the specimens and leaving them to soak in a cleaning bath, I went back into the East Cross Cut to see if my luck would continue. As I have mentioned before, this area is an "all or nothing" as far as specimen recovery goes, and after several hours of moving rock and mud, I came to the conclusion that I was back to the "nothing" stage. There is another section along the drift in this area that looks promising, and bears further exploration. Byron got a few small specimens out that look remarkably like the Solstice Pocket material from 2001. The tunnel in this section, however, is untimbered, and with a large and rather dodgy looking rock hanging right over the interesting section of the tunnel wall, I'm not eager to do much excavation until some support is in place.

Yesterday I finally got an admission from the Durham Constabulary that they will not be doing anything about our permit application until at least early next week. With the one person in charge of these permits away, it seems that no one else is willing or able to step in and help us, despite initial assurances to the contrary. Frustrating, but not much we can do about it except to continue to ask politely. On the other hand, we were finally able to secure a load of red diesel, so the saw and compressor are ready to go.

Local collectors Helen and Barry came by the mine for a visit yesterday. Helen is locally renowned for fearlessly going where few others dare in search of specimens, and seemed to take great joy in the fact that we have water plumbed into our mine for washing off exposures. Not the sort of thing one finds in old mine tunnels elsewhere here in the dale. Barry, who has a degree in mine engineering was more interested in talking to Dave, and actually got involved helping him muck out a section of a drift. This is the sort of visitor I like! Byron and I were invited afterwards by them for dinner at their place, so had a good a good evening of lasagna and chat.

Without our final permits in place, we are pretty much on hold at this point. Byron and I will spend some time today washing and packing what we have collected so far, and maybe try some more hand digging, if an interesting spot avails itself. I also have accumulated the first pile of bills for the season, so will be attending to that this morning.

Today's photo is of Dave playing with one of his toys.

Stay tuned for more,


Dave drilling a face.

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