Sunday, June 21, 2009

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather the past couple days has been cold and windy. Thankfully, though, there has been little rain and the quarry has dried out to the point where one no longer need worry about parking in the wrong spot least you find your vehicle up to the wheel rims in soft black mud. Today, the summer solstice, is sunny and warm (around 20C/68F) with a slight breeze. Just about perfect for these parts.

Friday, Byron, Greg and I continued working at various portions of the exposed fluorite seam at the face. Byron uncovered a very large pocket zone on the west side of the face, which yielded quite a bit of material. Unfortunately, though the fluorite was of excellent color, the pocket was very near the fracture zone that we’ve been following with the tunnel for the past couple years, and most of the pocket contents had been crushed or abraded. Hopefully, we will still get some good wholesale-quality material from it.

I was back at my perch on the east side, and managed to dig out a small platform from the rock to sit on. The platform was close enough to the fluorite seam in the wall that every time I tried to use the water to wash mud from the exposures I got showered by the backspray no matter what angle I tried, and by end of day I had acquired a pretty good “mine tan.” For my efforts I, like Byron, got mostly material destine to fill wholesale flats, but did manage one pretty nice specimen that had an undamaged 3 cm dark green twin in the middle and a slightly smaller one next to it. There’s a damaged crystal near one corner, but this looks like it will trim away fairly easily.

Dave spent the day timbering and drilling our exploratory east crosscut in the area of the Jewel Box Pocket. The shot at the end of the day went off as it should, and after mucking on Monday we shall see what, if anything new we have turned up.

Collector friend Lloyd Llewellyn is in the area for a weekend of crawling around muddy wet mines with Helen before he has to spend a somewhat cleaner and more civilized week on holiday with the family. The two had been exploring some old lead mine in Yorkshire, the name of which I forget. When we all met at the Blue Bell after our respective days of mining adventure I was told that the only thing of interest they found was a lot of rain.

Yesterday was visitor day at the mine. Along with Lloyd, Helen and Barry, we had a group of students from Durham University who belong to a cave and mine exploring group. After giving them the tour and a brief lecture on the geology and ore deposits of the North Pennines, they headed off to another stop and the rest of us got to digging for a couple hours. Once again, mostly wholesale-quality material was recovered, but Lloyd seemed happy with a few bits he had uncovered, and Helen got to take a bunch of photos.

About 5 pm we headed back up dale for an “official” Old Farts meeting at the Blue Bell, and were joined by Ben Creighton, a collector/mine explorer friend of Helen’s who lives to the west in Penrith. When it came time for round number two, Joy discovered that both of their cask ales had reached the bottoms of their respective barrels at the same time. Being that they were headed into a busy Saturday evening, having nothing on would have meant a fair amount of lost sales, so with what seemed a Herculean effort, Scott and Joy had the lines cleaned and new casks on both within an hour. If anyone fancies real ale in Weardale, this is certainly the place for it. As we adjourned to Barry and Helen’s for dinner around 8 pm pints were moving steadily across the bar.

Today Byron is off with his brother seeing a few tourist sights around the area, while I’m trying to get caught up with website and blog posts, write the (almost) daily report and clean a few specimens.

Until next time,

Jesse & Byron



Something recent from the mine.

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