Monday, August 13, 2012

Greetings from Weardale.

Our few days of summer-like weather appear to have vanished. Clouds moved in over the weekend and steady rain came down last night. No rain yet this morning, but dark cloud cover suggests we may be in for more. Not much breeze, either, suggesting that the midge index could be fairly high today.

We are now into our final week for this yearís mining season, and today we will be trying to get the big rock down from the mine. We were planning on packing it in a wooden shipping crate ordered from the same supplier we get our blue plastic bins from. Rather than delivering it as promised on Friday, we received a phone call saying that they didnít currently have any in stock and wouldnít in time for us to get the rock out with the rest of our shipment next Friday. After a few minutes of contemplating the available alternatives, it occurred to me that our friend and neighbor Roger, being a cabinet-maker, might be able to help. Saturday morning, notebook in hand, we sat down and drew up plans for the crate, and Ian and I then picked up the company van from Dave and headed off to the B&Q (a large tool and building supply store) in Durham. Fortunately, the store was set up to do custom cutting of timber, so by mid-afternoon we had all the necessary plywood panels cut to the required sizes, and were back off to St Johnís Chapel to drop it all off at Rogerís workshop, with a promise that the box would be ready by Sunday afternoon.

Last Friday, Ian and I spent a good bit of the day wrapping the rock in padding, and getting it ready for the next step in its journey. Cal, while examining the main face after the last shot, discovered yet another fluorite pocket in the roof at the center of the face. Not an easy place to collect as it was overhead and just behind a cross-beam that Dave had put at the face, but while Ian and I were making pads out of foam peanuts and plastic bags, Cal managed to recover several more good specimens.

Sunday morning, Cal was off early to the mine for another go at the pocket, and after checking in with Roger on the progress of our box, Ian and I joined him. The cavity had given up several more specimens and a good number of smaller bits, but by the time we arrived, was pretty much out of reach. Ian and I managed to get one final fluorite-covered rock out of it before deciding that there were too many large and potentially loose rocks in the immediate area for us to safely continue. Once outside with our collective take, we set up the chain saw and reduced the larger ones to manageable sizes, getting several more potentially nice specimens in the process. Back up dale, Roger had the box ready for us, as promised, and it was loaded into the van by mid afternoon.

Done with our chores reasonably early, everyone then opted for a pint or two and some chat at the Blue Bell. The gathering clouds produced another nice sunset during the evening, which is the subject of todayís photo. Rather reminds me of some of the pastoral paintings from the 19th century by artists such as Church or Turner. If the BBC weather is correct, this may be the last we see of the sun for a few days.

Getting a 200+ kg specimen down from the mine and boxed for shipment is something we have not done before, so today should be exciting. But not too exciting, I hope.

Stay tuned for moreÖ

Jesse, Ian, Cal & Kerith

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