Saturday, August 7, 2010

Greetings from Weardale.

The day begins cool, cloudy and a bit breezy. Yesterday the clouds rolled in and though it was drippy for much of the day, any serious rain held off, at least here in the dale.

Yesterday morning was Byronís memorial at the Durham crematorium. Despite the early hour of 0900, many of our local friends showed up for the gathering. We opted to forego any minister to speak as Byron was not a religious person, and perhaps more importantly, it seemed absurd to have someone who did not know him saying things about his life. Greg, being the next of kin, was expected to say something, if only briefly. After a few obviously terrifying minutes of this, I relieved him and tried to give a meaningful summary of our experience with Byron here in England over the past 12 years. Finally, Mary Sewell, our landlady for the years we stayed at Mine House said a few words. I am told that normally those gathered for the ceremony will adjourn to a pub afterwards, but given the early hour we were given, this was not practical. We are planning a gathering at the Blue Bell in Sunday the 15th, so hopefully we can get everyone back.

With little showing to collect, much of the week at the mine has been spent drilling, blasting, and installing new timber, in hopes of turning up something new. Earlier in the week we shot the north east cross-cut once again. After mucking out it looks as if we have reached unaltered limestone on the far side of the vein, unfortunately without any suggestion of flats beyond. There was one fairly large vein pocket that we crossed, which contained a few scrappy purple fluorites, some associated with quartz, and a monumental amount of very sticky mud.

The vein near the main face has had a good concentration of small pockets lately. Unfortunately, most have been collapsed to varying degrees and only yield a few decent specimens each. Todayís photo is of a nice, fairly lustrous purple cluster from one of these pockets. This coming week we plan to begin another cross cut to the east just back from the face. I have no idea whether this concentration of vein pockets is indicative of any flats along the vein margins, but I figure itís worth a look in the two weeks we have left this summer.

On Thursday Dave put in some timbering and shot part of the column that now makes up the south side of the Rat Hole pocket, which we worked in 2007. There is still a good bit of fluorite remaining on the pocket walls, but the rock needs to be broken up before we can collect much of it. After yesterdayís service I went in to the mine along with Cal and Ian Jones, who is visiting us for a bit, to survey the results of the shot and hopefully do some collecting. We managed to recover several good pieces, but the roof of the area needs some more stabilizing, so we are leaving off until Dave returns from a bike race on Monday.

This week we have had Polish geologist, mineral dealer, and world traveler Tom Praszkier and his girlfriend Asia visiting. They have been off for a couple days touring some of the classic North England mineral localities, but are expected back this afternoon. Plans are to take them and Ian to see Helenís collection this evening, and Iím sure it will then evolve into another evening in the pub drinking beers and telling stories. Hopefully, I can diplomatically avoid drinking too many shots of Polish vodka, which I am sure will be on offer.

Until next time,


Jesse & Crew

A purple fluorite from a small vein cavity.

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