Monday, June 29, 2009

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather over the past weekend has been overcast and still with occasional fog, particularly up on the moors. The fog has been rather misty but has not turned into proper rain. Yesterday afternoon it all cleared up for a bit and we had a warm summer evening, but this morning the clouds and fog have returned.

Friday at the mine was another somewhat frustrating day. After Dave finished securing the face Byron and I got to some collecting. The large collapsed pocket on the west side of the face continues, and for the most part, continues to yield only damaged or thoroughly crushed fluorite. At one point I managed to recover a gem-flawless twinned crystal that was at least 3 cm across. All the corners were chipped. I did get one reasonably intact specimen that had a cluster of large but somewhat cloudy twins on top of a mound of limestone matrix. Not too much to show for an afternoon’s work, however.

The fluorite seam is still present wrapping around the face to the east side, but is now sandwiched between layers of thick, relatively unbroken limestone, making collecting slow and difficult. I suspect that we will be shooting the face again in the next day or two in order to see if any more favorable ground shows up.

Joan arrived from San Francisco at Newcastle airport on Saturday morning, so I was off to pick her up while Byron took Greg out for one last tourist outing before he returns home this week to Minnesota. Upon returning to our cottage here mid-afternoon I discovered that our internet connection had gone down. After several hours of phone calls to polite but useless call centers, I found myself faced with a situation where the internet service provider was telling me that the problem was with the British Telecom phone line to the cottage, while British Telecom was claiming that there was no problem with their line.

Scott and Joy at the Blue Bell introduced me to a local fellow who does computer and internet support here in the village, and he was kind enough to stop by Sunday afternoon to do some trouble-shooting. His conclusion was that it looks like our service has been turned off by the provider, so I will be back on the phone to the politely useless help line. As a result of all this, I will be at the mercy of the good will of a few friends here in the dale, who have offered us use of their internet connections, and these reports may be somewhat less than regular.

With Joan here over the weekend, we had a quick and furious round of socializing, first with Jeremy and Phillippa at Allercleugh, and then with Bob and Mary at Mine House. Joan, though pretty jet-lagged, held up well. In between all, we had a nice walk up Slitt Wood in Westgate to the remains of a 19th century mining complex along Middlehope Burn. Today’s photo is of a waterfall seen along the way.

This coming week will see the changing of the guard here in Weardale. Cal and Kerith, along with assorted other friends and family will be arriving tomorrow, and Joan and I will be going down to London on Friday, then home on Sunday. As usual, I will return for the final shift of the season on August 1. While home in July I will be preparing a few choice new bits from the mine for their premier on the website and at the upcoming San Francisco Fine Mineral Show.

Until next time,

Jesse & Byron

A waterfall in Slittwood, near Westgate.

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