Monday June 30, 2008

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather for the past few days has been typical for the North Pennines this time of year. Early mornings tend to be sunny, but clouds move in by around 0800 and stay most of the day. Sometimes it rains a little, but no major downpours like we had this time last year. By late afternoon the clouds will lift, giving us a clear if sometimes windy evening. Yesterday the clouds lifted by mid-afternoon giving us one of the nicest days Iíve yet seen this summer. Being that we werenít underground at the mine I decided to take a photo safari around the Upper Dale. Todayís photo is of an old stone farm building and drystone walls, not far from the village of Cowshill.

Friday I was sequestered back at the cottage for most of the day attending to month-end accounting for Joan and my business back home, and did not see much of the mine. Byron, however, got to work at the newly cleared front end, and was back in productive ground fairly quickly. The fluorite producing seams appear to pinch and swell last weekís blasting seems to have gotten us past the last pinch. On Saturday I spent the day at the mine collecting with him, and a fair number of good specimens came out in a short period of time. Since the collecting area is really accessible to only one at a time, I had Byron hook up the chainsaw out on the landing and spent part of the day trimming up his produce. By the end of the day, Byron had already excavated the fluorite seam back about four feet from where it had been the previous day. After another day of collecting it will likely be time to do a light shot in the rock below the seam and begin a proper cross cut tunnel heading east into the mineralized zone. Once this is started, Dave can continue to drive the main tunnel forward while Byron collects in the flats.

On Sunday morning Dave, Byron and I took a drive over to Alston Moor to meet with the fellow who is working on our loco. Evidently the electrical controls in the salvaged unit we acquired a few years back are pretty well nackered, and are likely to cause a bit of bother and expense to get them in working order. The fellow has another loco that is in better condition, that he is willing to refurbish and sell us, which may be the better option. His unit is a bit larger than the one we had intended to rebuild, so we took some measurements and will see if it will negotiate all of the bends we have in the tunnel.

Afterwards, Byron and I went for a traditional Sunday roast at the Weardale Inn, Isabelís new place up the dale. Good food, and nice to have a place here in the upper dale where one can get a meal out when one hasnít the energy to cook after a long day at the mine. The portions, however, were absolutely huge, and both of us needed a bit of a nap afterwards. Upon getting up I noticed that the weather had taken a turn for the better, and set out for a couple hours to take some photos.

Byron has recently joined the twentieth century and has acquired a computer and e-mail address. Not being one who is too hasty about things, he hasnít yet gotten to the point where he feels compelled to check his messages daily. In fact, heís been here almost a month, and yesterday afternoon he finally decided to have a look. Before setting off on my photo shoot, I showed him how to get to his e-mail account and left him to sort through his backlog of messages. When I got back he told me that he had sorted through about half of them when he clicked on something that made it all go away. When I ask him if he wanted me to get it back for him so he could finish, he told me he was in no hurry and could finish it later. Life in the slow lane!

Until next time,

Jesse & Byron

A sunny day in the upper dale.

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