Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Greetings from Weardale.

The forecast on the BBC website predicted “heavy rain” for yesterday afternoon. Fortunately, the only thing that happened to us here in the dale was that it clouded up and got a bit colder. This morning it is sunny and still, with a few clouds slowly floating by. Sounds nice, but this is also perfect midge weather. Hope the breeze comes up.

Yesterday morning I got word that we would be getting our first Exchem delivery sometime mid day. Tony, the ever-cheerful fellow in their orders office gave me the driver’s mobile number. Got hold of him and found that they would be coming our way from Alston, to the west, around 1:30 pm, so arranged to meet them here in St. John’s Chapel to take the delivery. This left me with some time in the morning to work on cleaning a few of the specimens I’ve brought back from the mine. After close examination, I realized that, as is typical for the Blue Bell pocket area, very few specimens come out without some sort of damage, and this was true for last week’s take. Most will need some careful trimming back home to realize their full potential but when done, there should be some nice ones.

Arriving at the mine around 2 pm I found Shanade and a friend hard at work scrubbing recently collected material. Shanade’s gotten good enough at this that she has plowed through the six tubs I brought down the day before and was asking for more. I had to go up to the mine and harangue Byron and Greg to bring down what additional they had. Fortunately, she’s not back until next week so we’ll have a chance to stock up for her. Today’s photo is of the cleaning lady in action.

Collecting at the face was slow going yesterday, and Byron and Greg spent more time moving rock than recovering anything really nice. At the end of the day we had a conference with Dave about today’s drilling and shoot, and decided that we will extend the two incipient cross cuts – one east, the other west – that we started late last summer near the main face. The main heading has drifted a bit off the vein to the east, so Dave wants to nudge it back westward a bit, which will allow him to continue driving forward this summer while allowing Byron to collect in the currently productive area at the same time. I think I’ll also suggest this morning that we put a couple light shots into the floor around the collecting face. This would allow us to move some barren rock out of the way and advance the collecting eastward, further into the flats that I hope are continuing in that direction. In mining, you never know what you’ll find until you get there, but I’m quite hopeful for this new area. It would be real nice if it develops into something the size of the West Cross Cut, which we worked for eight summers.

Late in the afternoon we had a visit from a British fellow who has a rock shop in Bangkok, selling mostly “designer” specimens to locals. He had come across our “product” in Tucson last year and wanted to visit and buy at the source. He picked out a few cheap things to work at cleaning himself, but also took one of the best plates to come out of last week’s sawing. Sad to see it go so quickly, but he left behind a fairly sizeable cheque in exchange.

Back up dale in the evening, we found that it was ladies darts night at the Blue Bell, and due to some details of the local tournament schedule that I didn’t quite understand, there were to be four teams playing that evening. It’s a pretty small pub and the thought of 20+ women drinking and hurling darts about the place was enough to scare off most of the regulars. We had a couple pints and finished up about the time the teams started to arrive. One older white-haired lass overheard us talking and started hitting on Byron with the “you’re not from around here, are you?” line. After the usual explanation of how some Americans came to be hanging out in pubs around Weardale, she cautioned us to move away from the darts area if we valued our safety, and mentioned that she “really only comes here for the whisky.” As she headed to the bar for her first one, I noticed the leopard-print stilettos emerging from below the polyester pants suit. Welcome to Weardale.

Today Dave will be drilling, Byron and Greg collecting, and I’ll be wrapping and packing the pile of rocks Shanade left for me.

Until next time,

Jesse & Byron

Obviously, some people don't listen.

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