Saturday, June 13, 2009

Greetings from Weardale.

Yesterday was anomalously sunny, and I do not think I felt a drop of rain all day. The breeze was pretty non-existent, however, so the midges were out in force. This morning it is still sunny but the wind is up a bit, so life may be improving.

Yesterday at the mine Byron and Greg spent much of the day at the main face again. Though much fluorite shows, the area is still very tight and much of what was recovered came out with damage or simply in little bits. Near the end of the day Byron did manage to pull out two very nice, and largely undamaged plates with some large gem twin fluorites. In general, production was way off this week compared to last because of the difficulties of working the face. To keep things in perspective, however, we have managed to find during our first two weeks a number of pieces that exceed in quality anything we came away with during several entire summers weíve had in the past.

Taking advantage of the relatively warm and sunny weather, I spent part of the afternoon sawing up the backlog of large specimens outside on the mine landing. The saw is cooled and lubricated with water and produces a huge spray when in use. On sunny days such as yesterday this isnít much bother as one dries off pretty quickly. The bother was that the bar and chain on the saw are getting old and worn. When this happens, the saw tends to bind and get stuck when trying to make a cut of more than about 5 cm/2 inches into a rock. This was happening with too much frequency for yours truly, and I finally gave up on the job. Fortunately, I found a new bar and chain set that we purchased last summer down in our storage container. I left them on the table where Byron takes his lunch in hopes that he will take the hint and install them before the next round of sawing. But then again, perhaps Iíll need to learn how to do this myself.

Dave spent much of the day mucking out the two cross cuts we are starting near the main face, as well as cleaning up the pile of debris weíve created at the face during the past two weeks of digging. He also drilled a couple holes in the rock below the fluorite exposures at the face, which were loaded and shot at the end of the day. Hopefully, this will loosen up the area and allow or more collecting next week.

One of the things I always marvel at is the profusion of wildflowers that bloom here in the dale throughout the summer. Every evening when I make my daily call back home, it is necessary to go outside because one can not get a mobile phone signal through thick old cottage walls. Out front is a garden of sorts, which likely receives only the most occasional tending. On top of a stone wall bordering the garden numerous flowering plants have taken root. Iím not sure whether these were planted intentionally or are just opportunists, but they seem to like it there, and are the subject of todayís photo.

This weekend Byron wants to play tourist with his brother Greg so visits to Killhope and Hadrianís Wall are planned. Hopefully the weather will hold for the latter.

Until next time,

Jesse & Byron


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