Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Greetings from Weardale.

This morning begins overcast and still. At least it is not raining. Yesterday ended up being one of the nicest days, weather-wise, that weíve had here yet. Sunny, light breeze, a few fluffy white clouds floating by, and temperatures in the low 70s F. By evening the lower cumulus clouds had given way to a veil of high cirrus in the West, which turned nicely pink at sunset.

After dropping of the Peugeot at Watsonís Garage for servicing Byron headed straight for the working face. There are some large rocks hanging in the roof of the collecting area, and Byron had originally thought to bring them down. After conferring with Dave, they decided to put in some supports instead. Fortunately, this could be done without seriously limiting access to the areas of interest in the ever-expanding cavity, so Byron was free to dig in relative safety.

With the favorable weather at hand, I decided to do a turn at washing specimens, and spent a good part of the day removing as much mud as possible before they get wrapped and binned for shipment home at the end of the summer. This year we are trying to do as much grading and separating of specimens into different quality categories as possible. Anything really good is set aside and will probably be shipped back by an express courier. The decent wholesale quality things are left to dry and then packed for shipment, and the really grotty stuff will be sorted again to decide what gets left on the dump and what we might be able to turn into a mineral specimen that someone would actually want.

Digging was fairly frustrating for Byron as the zone had become fairly brecciated, and most things were coming out with a fair amount of damage if not in bits. A few large plates have sections that will yield decent specimens when trimmed, and we came up with a fair number of large gemmy twinned crystals that had been separated from their matrix at some point in the geological past, so the day was not a complete wash. Still, after producing some really fine specimens in past days, it is a letdown to have a day when they donít turn up for us. Mid-afternoon Barry and Helen showed up at the mine for a bit for underground R&R. I can only figure that the nice sunny weather was so shocking that they needed to get cold and wet to feel normal again. Helen seems to have taken to the idea of having piped in water to collect with, and immediately got to spraying and picking the face when Byron went out for a break. Todayís photo is of her having a go at it.

Back up dale we had a couple pints at the Blue Bell and discussed some of the finer points of dales life with Heather, who fills in behind the bar when Scott and Joy want a day off. Scott is a member of the local Mountain Rescue organization, which is a group of volunteers who are available to do search and rescue for people who get lost or into trouble while out on the fells around here. After dinner back at the cottage I was out admiring the sunset and found out from Joy that instead of an evening off together, Scott was out hauling down a hiker who had broken an ankle.

Today will be more of the same at the mine. The specimens I washed yesterday will need to be packed, and Iím sure there are more tubs of bits waiting patiently for a scrub.

Until next time,

Jesse & Byron



What Helen did on her holiday.

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