Sunday, June 3, 2012

Greetings from Weardale.

For the past couple days the weather here has been what we have come to expect for summer in the North Pennines, cold, cloudy, and sometimes wet. Fortunately, the wet part has only amounted to a bit of drizzle and we have so far been spared the sort of rain that turns the quarry into a mud pit. The heavy rains that happened before we arrived had filled the ephemeral ponds in the quarry to the extent that they attracted some nesting ducks and moorhens, who both seem to have produced families. Unfortunately for them, the current weather has done little to replenish the ponds, which are now close to gone.

Friday at the mine was a frenzy of activity as we wanted to get another shot in before the long weekend holiday weekend. By the end of the day Dave had enough timbering in place that we could safely continue to collect the pocket zone that appeared on Thursday. Being late in the day, we did not accomplish too much collecting before heading up dale for the evening, however.

Back in St. Johnís Chapel Ian and I took advantage of one of the few local culinary treats to be found here and had a traditional fish & chips supper at the Golden Lion. For a number of years, the Golden Lion was our regular pub here, but the latest landlord, who took over a few years ago doesnít specialize in the English cask ales that we are so fond of. The Scott and Joy, who took over the Blue Bell about the same time do, so we have pretty much switched our allegiance. The Lion does food, which the Blue Bell does not, and on Fridays puts on a pretty good fish & chips, which still gets us through the door on occasion.

Yesterday Ian and I went in to the mine to have at the pocket in earnest. With some excavation, the pocket quickly developed into a cavity about 1 by 1 and a half meters in size with several layers of green fluorite showing, including a very nice roof layer. The cavity was, as is usual for us, filled with the stickiest, most tenacious clay imaginable. This stuff cannot be washed out and must be dug out by hand, taking care not to damage any crystals hidden behind it. There was also a large mass of rock overhanging the pocket, which we had to break up and remove, else we undercut it and create a dangerous situation while trying to collect the pocket. After about six hours of this we managed to get at the nice looking roof plate, which obliged us by coming out in one large piece. Todayís photo shows the clay-filled pocket before excavation.

Back up dale for the evening, we made a trip over the hill to the Langdon Beck Hotel, in upper Teesdale. They are having a small beer festival for the holiday weekend, and this seemed a good way to finish a successful, if tiring day. A few pints and a steak pie later, we made it back to the cottage for an early evening. Neither of us are use to moving large amounts of rock and were pretty well knackered.

This morning is off to a slow start, but after a couple cups of coffee I think Iím up to getting ready for our shopping expedition to Hexham today.

More soon,


Jesse & Crew

Ian poking at the mud-filled pocket.

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