Sunday, July 28, 2013

Greetings from Weardale.

Yesterday was one of those almost perfect summer days here, sunny with scattered clouds, light breeze and highs of around 21C/70F. Clouds moved in during the evening, however, and the rain began sometime around midnight. Light rain continues this morning. It is still fairly warm so feels quite humid and muggy.

For the past couple days we have had Dave and Audry Lloyd, long time friends of Ian’s visiting from down south in Somerset where they reside (when they’re not off to Spain). Cal, Kerith and Audry have been off doing touristy things including attending an international pottery fair in Penrith, while Dave, Ian and I have been at the mine playing in the mud.

On Friday morning we finished timbering and mucking out the Northeast Crosscut after the blast earlier in the week. While Dave and Joe set to drilling the main face in anticipation of another shot there next week, us mud wrestlers got back to collecting. The productive section of the flats heading north from the crosscut that we have been working for about two weeks now has been named the “Bluebirds” pocket by Ian, in honor of his football team Cardiff, who were elevated to the Premiere League this year. I mentioned to him that this sounds much like the Blue Bell pocket from a few years back and could cause confusion amongst some of our fans. He suggested the team’s other nickname, which is somewhat rude and perhaps not totally fit for polite company, so “Bluebirds” it will be.

Over the course of collecting there the past few weeks, the pocket has developed into a long tube-like tunnel reminiscent of the Rat Hole pocket we worked back in 2007. Collecting at the head of the tunnel had become a wet and difficult job because of the narrow confines, so first order of business was to open it up for better access. We managed to get a few large rocks out of the floor, and bring down enough of the tunnel ceiling to get back at the face and by day’s end had gathered several tubs of specimens and a few more largish plates, though nothing of the quality that came out earlier in the week. Though there is still a lot of alteration in the rock at the head of the pocket, there is not much fluorite showing now. Hopefully there is more to be had, but we will need to developed the space into a proper tunnel in order to keep moving forward. This will require Dave’s skills with the drill and explosives so must wait a few days.

Saturday the three of us were back at it for a few hours. We managed to get a few more specimens from a fluorite layer that had made up the top of the Blue Birds pocket, then turned our attention to the altered rock showing on the south side of the crosscut. After a bit of digging and washing we had found another fluorite seam, which gave us a number of specimens and a lot of loose bits. Unfortunately, the fluorite in this area is fairly etched, and not nearly as good as what we were finding to the north. This was the situation three weeks ago when the new crosscut first encountered this section of flats. Hopefully the quality will improve as we dig away from the vein in this direction as well. All will be revealed soon, but first we will need to clean up the mess we made in the crosscut while digging the new direction. Something to look forward to on Monday morning! Today’s photo shows the crosscut before we made the latest mess of it.

Back in St John’s Chapel at the cottage, Audry, Kerith and Ian put together a nice fish pie, which was consumed along with some southern French rose for supper. Today is getting off to a lazy start as I write this, having some more coffee and watching the rain come down. Perhaps we’ll get motivated enough to do something exciting like go grocery shopping or do some laundry today.

Stay tuned for more…

Cheers, Jesse, Ian, Cal and Kerith

The Northeast Crosscut.

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