Monday, June 16, 2008

Greetings from Weardale.

The day begins sunny with a few clouds floating by and a light breeze. Much nicer than the weather we had over weekend, which was drippy and cold for the most part. Sadly, the breeze this morning looks entirely insufficient to sweep away the midges that have been swarming about.

In anticipation of today’s scheduled blasting at the face, Byron spent a good bit of the weekend continuing to work the Jewel Box in order to get anything that may be near the projected extension on the tunnel. By mid-day yesterday the side of the pocket closest to the tunnel looked pretty well cleaned out, and it appears that the most promising ground for specimens is to the Northeast, away from the tunnel. There is also a very large rock in the ceiling that will need removing before anyone does any more digging in that direction. We did manage to recover a few real nice pieces over the weekend, along with several tubs full of the ever-present “bottom rock,” which is good for filling wholesale flats but not really all that exciting to collect and clean up.

Yesterday afternoon around 2 pm Byron decided to take what passes for a weekend for him, and we headed off from the mine for a bit of a drive around the area. We made a stop in Rookhope, a scenic former mining village in the hills just north of Weardale, and the site of the famous Boltsburn Mine. The Boltsburn produced some of the best fluorite specimens ever found in these parts, but closed down in 1932. I had intended to have a walk around the old mine site to take some photos, but discovered that someone now has a chicken coop located on the cap of the old main shaft. Seemed rather sacrilegious to me, but then, everyone has their own religion, I guess. Stopped by the Rookhope Inn, which is under new management yet again, and appears to be doing a good trade as a stop-over for long distance bicyclists. Today’s photo is of some of the mine site remains along the burn adjacent to the Inn.

Continuing on the road and back down into Weardale through Allenheads, we made a stop at the Weardale Inn, which is a former schoolhouse located between St. John’s Chapel and Ireshopeburn (pronounced “ice up burn”), the next village up dale. The Weardale Inn has seen a succession of owners through the time we’ve been coming here, and though a nice place situated on a grassy bank along the River Wear, none of the owners seem to have been able to make a go of it. Our old friends Isabel and Jeffery, formerly of the Golden Lion have recently taken it over, so we stopped in to say hello and see how every one is. The place has a very “1970s” feel to it, including a wall covered with those faux antique mirror tiles that were so popular back then and an interior that had that “fake Spanish villa” look. Isabel says she has plans to redo and modernize the interior, opening up the now separate and somewhat claustrophobic dining room, and moving the bar to one side of the pub area. Hopefully she can pull it off as it could be a nice place.

We were supposed to have a powder delivery today but I just found out that it has been postponed until Wednesday, so plans for the day will change. Perhaps with Dave’s assistance we can get the large and menacing roof rock out of the Jewel Box so that Byron can continue to collect.

Until next time,

Jesse & Byron

Things just ain't what they use to be.

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