Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather here in the North Pennines continues much as it has been, windy and cool with occasional outbreaks of sunshine. Yesterday afternoon the wind died down and it actually warmed up a bit, giving us our first episode of what is referred to as “midge weather.” The little buggers were about in the evening, but not in huge swarms – yet. Today begins sunny and still. If nothing changes, I’m sure they will be gathering in force very soon.

Monday morning we finally got another shot off at the face. Being in the pocket zone, we drill and shoot fairly lightly in hopes of not totally destroying what we are looking for, so it was a fairly quick job to get it mucked out and secured again, by the time Dave left for the afternoon. The exposed pocket zone looked much the same as before, with several thin layers of fluorite between layers of ironstone, but was now wrapping around the face to the east side. This made space for a couple people to work at it at the same time, and today’s photo is of Cal and Ian doing just that. By day’s end we had accumulated several plastic tubs of potential specimens, which were set to soak in a detergent bath overnight.

Back up dale, everyone got cleaned up and retired to the Blue Bell for our traditional after-work pint, then back to the cottage for some smoked trout pasta, which included the last bits of the marvelously large fish we got from Billy over the weekend.

Yesterday morning Cal and Ian headed into the mine while I made the trip to Hexham to get the company car fitted with some new tyres. The only place in Weardale where one could get something like that done closed down last year, so a trip to the big city is now required. Arriving back at the mine early afternoon I found Cal and Ian having lunch and scrubbing the last of the soaking specimens from the day before. Evidently, the back of the pocket had advanced beyond the limit of reach, and the overhanging rocks were once again looking menacing. Time to start another blasting cycle and move forward.

Since getting into what we call the Bluebirds #2 pocket last summer we seem to be getting a day or two of collecting at most between blast cycles. Late last summer the zone opened up into a decent sized pocket, which gave us a fair amount of good material. So far this season, it has remained tight and broken up, and most of the material has been average quality at best. One always hopes that it will change for the better with the next shot, and we will soon see what that gives us.

This coming weekend sees a friend’s wedding in the south of the country, so we will be away from the mine for a few days. Dave has another motorbike race at the same time, but will try to get the face shot before he is away. If all goes as planned, everyone will reconvene next Monday and pick up the pieces. Literally.

Stay tuned for more.


Cheers, Jesse, Ian, Cal & Kerith

Getting crowded at the face!.

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