Sunday, May 31, 2015

Greetings from Weardale.

Things remain cool and mostly cloudy here in the North Pennines. We get occasional outbreaks of sunshine during most days (usually when we’re all underground) and have had a couple light rains overnight. But mostly, it’s still cold, with daily highs around 10-12 C (50-54F). The trees around our cottage have finally filled out with leaves, but the usual abundance of windflowers n the quarry have yet to arrive. This morning is much the same as the past few days – grey and windy. Coming home last night from supper with our local friends Jeremy and Phillippa there was enough of a drizzle to require the windscreen wiper on the car, but everything looks fairly dry this morning, so obviously no serious rain followed.

After our completely unproductive day of shifting rock at the face on Wednesday, Ian and I decided to give it one more go before giving up and ordering another blast. All that remained of the crushed seam of fluorite we were chasing appeared to be heading behind a very large rock that was partially exposed at the face. We had spent much of the previous day trying to dig our way around it, but this obviously had not bought us anything in the way of collectable fluorite, so the only option remaining was to try and move the rock itself.

Much of Thursday morning was spent with hammer, chisel and bar, trying to dislodge the beast. As is often the case, the longest dimension of the thing was heading into the face, so it’s actual size was not apparent until we finally got it to move. Sometime mid-afternoon it finally decided to cooperate, and we managed to get it rolled out of the pocket zone and onto the accumulated pile of debris we had created the day before. As hoped, the fluorite seam blossomed into a mud-filled pocket behind the rock, and we were able to get some collecting done. Today’s photo is of Ian, perched above the large rock, now out of the way, inspecting what our efforts had bought us. By day’s end we had filled about six plastic tubs with potential specimens and had hauled them down from the mine and set them to soak in a detergent bath to help loosen the mud. We had also managed to get ourselves as thoroughly wet and muddy as the previous day, but Ian made the observation that one doesn’t notice it nearly so much when specimens are coming out.

Dave was back on Friday, and after a quick conference at the face, we decided that the back of the pocket zone had now receded beyond practical reach, and that some more rock needed to be moved. Ian and I went back down to the containers and spent some time scrubbing our take from the previous day while Dave proceeded to break up some of the rock around the face for us.

Back for a few hours yesterday, we managed to get the face mucked out to the point that we could see a fairly well-developed alteration zone across the face. Dave thinks that more timbering will be necessary to secure the place, so getting any water to the face and washing it down will need to wait until Monday.

We were away from the mine a little early so that Ian could catch a cup final match that his team, Arsenal was playing in. Sports programming is evidently rather expensive here so few rural pubs can afford it. As a result, Ian usually has to watch his games on the computer while up her in the hinterlands. Jeremy and Phillippa offered to put the game on their telly for him, so we needed to be out of our mine clothes and up there by 1730. Arsenal won handily, so Ian was in a good mood for the rest of the evening.

Today we are off from the mine, and after another coffee and some more paperwork-ish chores, we’ll be off to Hexham for our weekly grocery shopping. Afterward, I’m sure we’ll be catching up on local happenings in the pub.

Stay tuned for more.


Jesse & Ian

Finally, back at the pocket zone!

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