Thursday, June 25, 2009

Greetings from Weardale.

Yesterday was about as good as it gets here in the North Pennines, sunny, warm, and a slight breeze most of the day. Some high clouds moved in late in the day, and this morning is overcast, though still fairly warm.

Yesterday at the mine was rather frustrating. After mucking out the face, Dave discovered a very large rock hanging in the ceiling that needed to come out before the face could be timbered. It was far too large to remove by hand so we had to wait until the end of the day to drill and shoot it. Hopefully, after mucking and timbering this morning, we’ll be able to begin collecting again. I’ve done nothing other than scrub muddy specimens and wrap them for shipping this week, and would really like the chance to dig a little.

The real disappointment of the day was our new cross cut to the east, in the area of the Jewel Box Pocket. This zone gave us some of the best specimens we’ve yet recovered from the mine during late 2007 and 2008. All collecting was done just off the main tunnel on the east side, and I was really hoping that the fluorite seam would continue eastward. Dave’s shot in the cross cut went of nicely, and brought the roof of the tunnel up to the level of the fluorite seam, but as I picked the last few remaining chunks of rock from the ceiling I could see the bright green fluorite seam vanish completely. Not even an alteration horizon heading eastward, just barren limestone. Bugger all! Let’s hope things improve at the face.

After spending a bit of time futilely picking away at barren limestone in hopes of being proved wrong about the cross cut, I retired to the quarry floor and continued scrubbing wholesale rocks. At least it was a pleasant day to be outside and I got to enjoy the multitude of wildflowers that bloom in the quarry through the summer. Of particular note right now is an ever-enlarging elderflower bush next to our stairs that is currently flush with clusters of small, fragrant white flowers. The wild rose bushes that populate the quarry are also currently putting on a show, and one is the feature of today’s photo. Sadly, the wild orchids seem very scarce this year, perhaps having been munched by sheep that occasionally escape their pastures and wander into the quarry.

Byron spent some time in the Rat Hole area of the West Cross Cut and turned up several specimens that were typical of what we got from the area in 2007. Greg decided to try his luck in the old Dipper area, which still shows fluorite. Recent experience with this area has shown that most of what shows has been soundly crushed, and I think his afternoon’s experience only confirms this.

Dinner back at the cottage. No open doors, no swarms of midges. Off to the mine shortly for another round of wrapping and binning specimens.

Until next time,

Jesse & Byron

The English Rose.

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