Friday, June 3, 2011

Greetings from Weardale.

Once again, here we are back in Weardale having a go at the mine. Year number 13 Ė I think weíre making a habit of this. Joan and I, along with Ian Jones and his wife Di arrived last weekend to get the mine open and start this summerís dig. With the exception of one cold, drizzly day on Wednesday, the weather has been about as good as it gets here in the North Pennines. Yesterday was positively hot, and today looks like it will be much the same. I canít believe that this will last for long, so weíre enjoying it while we can.

As those of you who have been following our adventure will recall, last summer was not one of our best. Along with loosing our long time miner and friend Byron to cancer, we ended the mining season with very little collectable fluorite showing anywhere in the mine. What this means is that we will now take our earnings from last summerís fluorite and spend it looking for more, hoping we find a new section of flats before the bank account runs dry. Mining is always a gamble, but for some of us at least, Weardale is a much more pleasant place to loose oneís money than some naff casino.

Last weekend was a Bank Holiday in these parts, so we had a couple days to get settled in before jumping to work. Tuesday we got things opened up without too much bother other than having to repair a couple leaks in the water line. The compressor was delivered as scheduled, and Dave and Joe have since been busy cleaning up the face, timbering, and drilling for our first round of blasting. If we get our first delivery of powder today, then this should happen this afternoon. Todayís photo is of the crew heading up the ladder for a nice day underground.

The one problem we have had so far is that the phone at our cottage isnít working and we have not yet been able to get British Telecom to do anything about it. On top of this it is almost impossible to get a mobile phone signal here at the cottage, so we have to wait around until the delivery wagon shows up, not knowing exactly when that will be.

Ian and I have spent the past couple days trying to lower the floor of the drift in the West Cross-Cut. At the end of last summer, we found an area in the floor near what remains of the Rat Hole that gave us some specimens. By the time we gave up on it, the hole was deep enough that we were collecting by feel under a pool of muddy water. If we can get the section of tunnel dug out a bit, hope is that we can find some more specimens. Two days of wielding a pick and shovel in a space not big enough to stand fully upright has reminded my lower back that Iím not use to doing these things. I guess thatís what ibuprofen is for.

I think it is time to take a walk, find a spot where I can get mobile phone reception, and see if I can find our about our supposed delivery today. At least itís a nice day for a walk.

More soon,


Jesse & Crew

Dave and Joe heading for a sunny day underground.

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