Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Greetings from Weardale.

Though generally cool and breezy, I don’t think we have had any rain since last Thursday. The quarry is no longer a mud pit. I’ll try not to get use to this as I am sure having this many sunny days in a row is what would be termed a “transient phenomenon” here in the North Pennines.

After a good couple days of mud wallowing in the area behind where we recovered the Giant last summer, the fluorite seem appears to be pinching out. Ian spent a bit of time there on Friday but got little other that a good mud coating for his efforts. Dave wanted to square up the main face to begin timbering prior to the next round of blasting, which meant dislodging a series of large rocks high on the left hand side of the face. Despite his best efforts with a bar, some were remaining stubbornly in place, leaving drilling them the only practical option. Drilling requires the water line, so we gave up on trying to get more out of the Giant zone in favor of letting Dave make some progress at the face.

With Dave busy at the face, Ian and I spent the afternoon doing infrastructure chores. First accomplished was installing our gondola, which we use for lowering tubs of specimens down from the mine landing rather than try to carry them down the steep stairs. That done, we then managed to get the tarp strung between the two containers. This provides a shelter of sorts for people working outside washing specimens and getting them ready to wrap for shipment home. Last August, when closing for the season, we decided that, rather than remove them completely, we would leave them wrapped around one of the containers. It looks as if someone came through over winter and cut some of our tie-down ropes, but we were able to re-engineer the rigging and had the shelter up by mid afternoon.

Late in the afternoon Dave announced that, despite having five holes drilled in them, the problem rocks were still firmly lodged in place. This meant resorting to a stronger sort of persuasion (i.e.: blasting them), which he planned to do on Monday morning. At that point, we decided that it had been a cold, hard week at the mine and it was time to start the weekend.

Saturday Ian and I devoted to a shopping trip to Hexham in order to restock the fridge and get some other necessary items for around the cottage. Sunday, we took a drive to Kendal to visit with Lindsay and Patricia Greenbank, the original owners of the Rogerley and still good friends. Neither have been in very good health the past year, Patricia with vision problems and Lindsay with some bone fractures in an ankle. Fortunately, after some surgery, Patricia’s sight is now well enough that she can drive again. Lindsay, likewise, has had surgery on his ankle and is currently wearing an elaborate brace to keep everything immobile while it heals. All this means that he has been housebound for a while and eager for some company. Had a good lunch and exchanged recent news and gossip before we headed back to Weardale, dodging the numerous gypsy horse caravans on the roads, heading to the annual Appleby horse fair, which happens this week.

Back at the mine yesterday, I ran some errands, picking up needed supplies in Consett while Dave had at the problem rocks in the face. I got back around lunch time To find everyone down from the mine. Dave said the shot had successfully removed the problem rock, but had also exposed what looked like a mud-filled fluorite seam directly in the roof of the tunnel at the face. After lunch, I went up to have a look, and concurred with this diagnosis of the situation. Leaving Dave and Joe to muck out the debris from the shot, Ian and I spent a bit of the afternoon washing specimens and laying them out to dry.

After mucking, we all gathered at the face to help Dave with timbering and assess the situation. Dave decided the best thing to do was put in another timber set, but leave a window open in the middle so we can attempt to collect the roof from a scaffold constructed below. By end of day the timbering was in place, and this morning we will build the scaffold and have at it. Collecting over one’s head is a real joy as there is virtually no way to avoid having copious amounts of mud, water and rock come directly back down at one. Hopefully, the rocks will be small.

Just to show everyone that the weather up here is not always totally awful, today’s photo is of our first real sunset, seen on Saturday evening.

Stay tuned for more…


Jesse & Ian

A rare sunset over St John's Chapel.

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