Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Greetings from Weardale.

Well, here we are once again, back in this obscure corner of North England in search of fame and fortune Ė if not some bonnie bits of fluorite and a few pints. Byron and I flew over from California last Saturday, and though still fairly jetlagged, have managed to get the mine open and running in what must be record time. I guess thatís what a few years of practice will do for you. Having placed orders for needed items and applied for permits in advance helps.

About all that was accomplished on Sunday was a round of grocery shopping and meeting up with Dave to organize things and plan strategy for the season. That evening we were invited up to Allercleugh for dinner with Jeremy and Phillippa, our landlords for the first three years here.

Despite several weeks of sometimes torrential rains here, this morning we got the mine opened and water lines pulled in without problem. Dave has spent some time over winter cleaning up and re-timbering the West Cross Cut. Today we started lowering the floor in the Dodgy Bugger area so Byron can get good access to the working face to do some collecting. As Dave picked away at the muddy mess, I played grunt and pushed the barrow loads out and dumped over the landing edge. At one point it became obvious that a rather large rock in the ceiling needed to be brought down, least it do so on itís own, perhaps when one of was in attendance. Down it came, without even knocking out and of the nearby timbering and in short order Dave had reduced the thing to a pile of bits with a large hammer. Todayís photo is Dave standing victorious over the remains.

Despite statements to the contrary, Byron, having water available, could not resist doing some digging in one of the drifts toward the front of the mine. Unfortunately, I donít thing he came up with anything worthwhile, but he did manage to get himself rather wet and muddy.

Speaking of muddy, with the large amount of rain here recently, I was expecting it would be difficult to drive into the quarry. All our ponds and depressions were filled to capacity but the road was surprisingly passable. Lately, however, there have been a number of off-road vehicle meets in the quarry, and many of the areas that formerly sported a profusion of wild flowers are now patches of churned up mud. Hopefully, with a little neglect these spots will recover. At least the lads didnít churn up our water line as happened a couple years ago.

Along with the expected jetlag, I seem to have acquired some sort of virus upon arriving, and as a result have been spending more time than I planned on doing nothing. The progression of the disease has been fairly rapid, going from a sore throat yesterday to stuffed up head and chills today. Hopefully by tomorrow it will have moved on in search of another victim.

Tomorrow Byron should be able to pick up the little white Peugot from Watsonís Garage, and the compressor is scheduled for delivery on Wednesday. This afternoon, upon arriving back at our cottage, received a call from the Durham Constabulary saying that Byronís permits are being processed and will be in the mail shortly. Iím really not use to things coming together so quickly, but after last yearís delay plagued start-up, I wonít complain.

Until tomorrow,

Jesse & Byron

Anything's possible if you have a big enough hammer.

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