Wednesday June 25, 2008

Greetings from Weardale.

Today begins overcast and still, much like yesterday. We had a brief spell of sunshine at the mine yesterday, coinciding with Dave hauling our timber delivery from Alistair’s mill up to the mine landing. By afternoon it had clouded over again, and rain came by early evening. The exact moment was at about 7 pm (GMT). I was standing outside the Blue Bell in an effort to get a mobile phone signal to make a call home while Byron, Helen and Barry chatted in the comfort of the warm, dry, and phone-reception free pub.

Collecting-wise, yesterday was rather frustrating. The face of the collecting pocket has become completely brecciated, and almost all the fluorite visible in the walls has been churned to bits at sometime in the geologic past. Byron managed to create a fairly large pile of rack debris at the collecting face, but recovered only a couple large, matrix-free twins with only minimal damage for his efforts. Dave, meanwhile, busied himself drilling several areas of potential interest prior to the next round of blasting. Given the current state of the main face, I think we’ll have him drill it today and perhaps shoot it tomorrow. In the mineral collecting business, it’s really handy to have the option of blowing up some rock when hand-work is not producing the desired results.

I spent the morning wrapping and packing the load of specimens I had washed the day before. About the time I finished, Andy Tindle and his wife Margaret arrived for a tour around the mine. Andy is with the Open University in Milton Keynes, and is author of the upcoming “Minerals of Britain and Ireland.” The last edition of the book was published around 150 years ago, and after spending 12 years on the project he told me that he now knows why no one else has tried to do it in the time since. The book is finally out of his hands and at the printer, and due out in mid-July. I got to see a proof copy, which he was carrying about like a new-born child. The final product is quite large and quite impressive, and will be a serious addition to the mineralogical literature on the country. Yours truly even has a few photos in it.

After looking through the proof, and trying not to get any mud on it, we took a crawl around the mine. Andy had a good time looking and poking at the newly exposed flats, but as a true geologist, seemed most impressed with the multi-generational (and mostly massive) ore deposits exposed along the main vein. After loading up with specimens of galena, fluorite and calcite, which he expressed eagerness to subject to all manner of analyses when back at the University, we headed out to the Black Bull in Frosterley for some lunch and chat.

I have just had a call this morning from John at Watson’s garage informing us that the little white Peugeot is ready for us to pick up. Guess this means I should get cleaned up and ready for the trip down dale. After retrieving the car, I suspect I’ll be spending some time at the local post office, where one pays automobile registration taxes around here. Although we have not see it many times yet this summer, here is a photo of Monday’s sunset in the North Pennines.

Until next time,

Jesse & Byron



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