Thursday, June 11, 2009

Greetings from Weardale.

Yesterday remained cool and cloudy all day, and finally got around to raining a bit late in the day. This morning we’re back to cool and cloudy, but everything’s pretty dry so I guess not much, if any rain fell over night.

Yesterday morning was taken up by more errands. After several stops by the timber mill in recent days I was finally able to get a bill from Alistair and could pay him for the order that was waiting for us on arrival. I somehow think that doing the bookwork is not his favorite part of the business as it usually takes several tries before I can find out the cost of our timber purchases. After successfully leaving him a cheque, I went down to Wolsingham to pick up a 30-liter container of auto/truck degreaser that I had ordered through a local auto repair shop. The degreaser has arrived, but no bill for it yet. At face value, one might be tempted to think that folks around here are prosperous and well off enough that they have no need to get invoices to their customers in a hurry. I know for a fact that this is not the case, so I can only figure that there must be something in the English psyche that abhors bookwork and accounting.

You may now be asking, why does a specimen mining operation need 30 liters of truck degreaser? We certainly do not have a fleet of lorries or delivery vans prowling the motorways getting mucky and covered with road grease. Well, it turns out that this stuff is one of the best things we’ve found for getting our tenacious mud off the fluorite specimens. A quick soak and the crud will brush right off. Without it, I suspect we would all be developing a repetitive motion injury in our wrists from all the scrubbing these things would require. Wouldn’t want to have to sue myself for workman’s compensation, now would I?

Back at the mine I found Dave had begun drilling for the afternoon’s blast in the new explorational western cross cut we are driving just back from the face. Byron and Greg were, of course, digging at the face. The exposure of fluorite now wraps all the way around the main face and back for quite a way along the eastern side of the tunnel. Unfortunately, though much fluorite is showing, the current exposures are so tightly locked up with mud and rock fragments from a past collapse in the area that it is difficult to collect much that hasn’t been damaged or completely crushed into fragments. After lunch, I took a turn at the face, sharing the available water hose with Byron, who was working on the east side, nearby. After about three hours of digging, scrapping, washing, and hammering on rock, I had dug around a very large rock that appears to have a patch of large, dark, and hopefully undamaged fluorite crystals on the underside. About 6pm Dave finally chased us out so he could blast the new cross cut, but the rock was still showing no signs of coming loose. Out on the landing, Dave set off the charge but thought something about it did not sound right, and was worrying about it all the way back up dale. Guess we’ll find out what, if anything went wrong this morning.

As we’ve so far had a thorough lack of good specimens coming out this week, today’s photo is of one of the nice bits from last Saturday’s trimming, now all cleaned up.

Until next time,

Jesse & Byron

Another bonnie bit sees the light of day.

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