Sunday, July 8, 2007

Greetings from Weardale.

The “improved” weather seems to be holding for the moment. This shouldn’t be taken to mean that it has stopped raining, however, but just that it has been raining less often than previously. It has remained cool and at times quite breezy, which serves to dry things out nicely. It also means that anyone doing work with water on the landing at the mine – such as using the chain saw or screening mud for little bits – will get pretty cold from the evaporation. This type of weather, where it can change from showers to sunshine quite rapidly, also yields a goodly number of rainbows about the dale, particularly later in the afternoon when the sun is lower in the west. Today’s photo is one such that I captured while driving along the road in the upper dale near Cowshill yesterday evening.

Byron spent much of the day on Friday working at the exposed specimens in the back of the current pocket. There was quite an exposure showing by quitting time on Thursday, but all were still locked in pretty tight. I spent Friday morning running errands and ordering supplies, and by the time I got to the mine Byron was well into persuading the difficult little buggers to come out. By end of day the cavity was lined with the results, which I spent a bit of time yesterday cleaning, wrapping, and hauling down from the mine. Many were fairly large specimens, and all consist of plates and mounds of large, untwined, interlocking crystals. These should be quite nice when cleaning is finished, and all show very strong daylight fluorescence. Unfortunately, the large ones will be virtually impossible to cut up into smaller (and more saleable) pieces because of the intergrown nature of the crystals. I suppose one shouldn’t quibble too much, at least the mine is still producing for us after all this time.

Friday evening Byron and I went down dale to the Mill Race in Wolsingham for a dose of Whitby Cod and some Black Sheep. Had a good chat with Chris, the son of the owners Mary and Denis. He seems quite fascinated with what we are doing at the mine (unusual for a young lad these days), and wants to come by and help us muck about on days off from his electrical contracting job. Volunteer slave labor. The best kind! He was also acting a bit sheepish as evidently he had made the mistake of answering his mobile phone that afternoon while driving back from work. Talking on one without a hands-free setup while driving here is highly frowned upon by the authorities (something I wish were the case back home!), and it just so happened that he passed a police car at exactly the wrong moment. On the bright side, he also offered to set me up with access to their wireless network, so I may be able to get something other than a snail-like dialup internet connection here in the dale.

We spent several hours yesterday back at the mine, me picking up after Byron in the Dodgy Bugger, and Byron poking at some new exposures left after Dave shot a few faces with our pyrotechnic cartridges on Friday. One of the cross cuts toward the main tunnel face is highly altered and mineralized. The limestone is completely altered to ironstone and is shot through with stringers of massive fluorite and galena. Unfortunately, it hasn’t yet produced many vugs. The quest for them, however, kept Byron busy for several hours. The resulting pile of material, while an attractive combination of shiny galena and blue-green fluorite, is massive and not worth a whole lot. John Land, who owns a couple of local crystal and jewelry shops has expressed interest in some of it, so perhaps we can earn enough for a tank of petrol or two in Byron’s car. Quit work around 1600 and took a drive up through Rookhope to Allenheads to enjoy the momentary good weather and scenery.

Sun’s out this morning and Byron’s up and moving, so I best get moving for the day before it starts raining again.

Until next time,

Jesse & Byron


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