Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Greetings from Weardale.

This morning it is sunny and quite pleasant out, with just a bit of a breeze to keep it from becoming hot. Third day in a row now and the quarry is drying out nicely. Maybe summer has actually arrived up here.

Although Sunday is traditionally the day of sloth and indolence, Byron insisted on returning to the mine for another go at the locked up face in the pocket. After all these years working with him I have become convinced that he can somehow “feel” it when specimens are at hand. This proved to be the case once again. When we arrived about noon, it was obvious that we needed to muck out the floor of the pocket before any more collecting could be done. The muck in the floor is full of single crystals and small specimens as it is actually a part of the pocket that appears to have shattered and collapsed sometime in the dark past of geological time. As a result, all this muck is being hauled out onto the dump – mostly by yours truly – to be washed and gone through for little bits. This is, of course, what I spent the next several hours doing.

Around 1500 I took a break and went to the Mill Race in Wolsingham to meet up with Chris, who had offered to get me hooked up with their wireless broadband internet connection. I got my laptop to recognize the network without problem, but for some reason the browser would not log on. After about an hour and a half we came to the conclusion that we had both exhausted out “expertise” in this sort of thing, and I headed back to check on Byron. The gate at the mine was locked so I knew he was back up dale. Caught up with him at the Blue Bell, and got a pint of Deuchars to sooth the somewhat abused back. I could tell from his grin that something had happened, but the only thing he would say was that he got a good one that I would see tomorrow.

Yesterday morning, upon arriving at the mine I found several plates and mounds of large green fluorite crystals sitting on the table in the container. Most of the crystals we’ve been getting are a bit opaque and cloudy, but one of the plates had two large, gemmy, perfectly formed twins perched on the plate, and is the subject of today’s photo. The cavity was also lined with specimens he had pulled out the previous afternoon, so I spent much of the morning wrapping and hauling them out of the mine. After lunch, I repeated Sunday’s exercise of hauling all the accumulated mud and debris out of the pocket while Byron collected more specimens. Around mid-afternoon he came out for a break and abandoning my bucket and wheel barrow, I got in for a little collecting. The face is now a bit of a crawl back, and is quite heavily mudded in, but I did manage to get a few bits out, including one with another large gem twin before Byron returned. The amount of mud surrounding the specimens and rock is incredible, and Byron swears he must have been wearing at least half of it by the time we were through for the day. Fortunately, most of it was stuck to his rain gear and we were able to hose it off. The amount that made it through to his clothes was enough, however, to give our little washer here at the cottage a real test yesterday evening.

This morning I am back at the phone, making arrangements for deliveries of supplies and our trip over to Kendal to pick up some light gauge rail from Mick and Lindsay’s old yard. Hopefully we can arrange that for Thursday. Yesterday we received our first delivery of blue shipping bins, so today I will begin wrapping and binning the specimens that have accumulated in our second container. I’m sure I’ll be hauling out more mud and muck from the pocket as well.

Until next time,

Jesse & Byron


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