Thursday, August 21, 2008

Greetings from Weardale,

Although overcast much of the day it never got around to raining on us yesterday, and I actually witnessed a sunset last night. This morning I can see a bit of sun out, so perhaps we will have another good day. Due to the unusually wet summer here, the ground is completely saturated with water. As a result, the heavy rains on Monday and Tuesday rapidly filled the depressions in the quarry and rose over a low-lying stretch of the road. Byron was barely able to drive out Tuesday afternoon and yesterday morning it was difficult to find a way in even on foot without filling one’s wellies with water. By afternoon the lake level had started to recede a little so hopefully Byron will be able to drive in with the needed re-supply of diesel fuel today.

Yesterday morning we had a collector from down south in Shropshire stop by for a quick tour and to purchase some specimens. Nice fellow who seems to have followed our exploits for some time but never stopped by. Cash was paid, for which we are always grateful as payday for the crew quickly approaches.

Joan came in with me for the morning and duly spent some time wrapping and binning specimens for their journey back home to California. Courtesy of the internet, she is also doing some work from here for our business back home, so I took her back up dale to the cottage and our broadband connection around 1 PM. This is about when our clients back on the West Coast would be hitting their computers for the morning’s first round of e-mails. This also means that the working day can extend into the evening, and she had an 11 PM conference call between California, New York, New Zealand and Weardale to attend to. Needless to say, she’s sleeping in a bit this morning.

Back at the mine I spent much of the afternoon packing up more specimens. Byron was at the collecting face, while Dave and Joe mucked out the West Cross Cut after Tuesday’s shot. The flats at the face have become a jumbled mess of rock, mud and fluorite, and despite moving a good bit of rock only a few potentially good pieces came out, and nothing to rival Tuesday’s large bit, which is the subject of today’s photo. A lot of collectors complain about the presence of saw cuts on specimens, but this piece is a good example of why they are sometimes unavoidable. The entire thing weighs at least 25 kg (55 lbs). I don’t know of anyone who would buy a specimen that large, and if we try to split it rather than using the saw it will shock and likely shatter many of the crystals covering the face. Sawing is the only option. If the weather holds today, perhaps we can get it cut up this afternoon.

Yesterday afternoon I took a break from packing specimens and walked over to the timber mill to pay our bill for the summer. The yard foreman told me that a truck driver from our shipping company had come by that morning looking to make the pick-up of our shipment. This was a little surprising as I had scheduled it for next Tuesday. Almost every year we have some sort of problem or confusion with the shipping company, and I now know what this year’s will be. As soon as I finish here I’ll be on the phone with them trying to get it sorted out.

So until next time,

Jesse, Joan, and Byron

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