Thursday, June 28, 2007

Greetings from Weardale.

Well, it finally stopped raining yesterday - at least for the moment. It remains breezy and cool, more like autumn than just a few days past the summer solstice, but I won’t complain. I can even see the sun this morning. The wind does a good job of drying things, so if this keeps up the roads into the quarry may become passable again without having to borrow someone’s four wheel drive and tear the place up even more.

Things are coming together nicely at the mine this year. The compressor was delivered yesterday, but not without a bit of confusion. When we started this project almost 10 years ago, we would hire our compressor from a local firm in Crook, a nearby town. As things in business tend to go, this company was swallowed up a few years back by a large national firm, and we now deal with someone at an order desk out in Newcastle who may not even know where Weardale is. The quarry is not an easy place to find or drive into, so each year when requesting a compressor I try to relay detailed delivery instructions in hopes that they will get passed on to the driver. The past few years we have been lucky to get the same driver who knows not only where we are, but that the roads into the quarry require a small vehicle. This year we got the same driver, but for some unknown reason he showed up at around 7 AM (long before we’re there) with a huge articulated lorry! I can only wonder what he was thinking – or wasn’t as is the case. Fortunately, the order desk had passed on Dave’s mobile number so we were able to get it sorted out, and another driver arrived at 10 AM towing the compressor behind a Land Rover.

By yesterday, Dave had the Dodgy Bugger area of the West Cross Cut mucked out and timbered to the point that we can now wallow in the mud and poke about with reasonable expectation that no one will get squashed. This being done, Byron had at it and in short order was handing specimens out to me. A good bit of time was spent at first digging down into the floor of the cavity, which yielded a few decent things and a lot of little fluorite crystals and bits. I’ve always referred to this stuff as “aquarium gravel”, but last Tucson we bagged up a bunch of it for sale and it all went away in short order. I’m firmly convinced that people will buy anything if the price is right.

After several hours of washing and digging through the floor, enough working room was excavated to allow Byron decent access to the back face, and in no time he had pulled a couple large fluorite-coated boulders out. The larger of the two was fairly unremarkable but the smaller is one of those quartz-fluorite-galena combos like we got last year. When cleaned these are really quite attractive. By the time we got those out, it was getting past 6 PM, so we stumbled out into the first sunshine I’ve seen since arriving here. Today’s photo is of the smaller one basking in the first sunlight it likely has seen since the late Paleozoic era.

Back up the dale for a pint at the Blue Bell and discovered that Byrons certificated from the Durham Constabulary has arrived in the post. An extra layer of bureaucracy has recently reared its ugly head, and we now get to apply for yet another certificate from the EU. Hopefully, this won’t take too long, but I hear there is a postal strike looming here in the UK. Makes one think that the Brits may have more in common with the French than most care to admit!

Today I will be manning the computer taking care of some work from back home. Byron will, no doubt, continue to wallow in the mud in search of our elusive fame and fortune.

Until tomorrow,

Jesse & Byron


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