Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Greetings from Weardale.

Back at the mine this week after a brief get-away to attend a wedding down South. A very enjoyable two-day affair, and we got to catch up with friends from all over. The first part was rather formal, and required the sort of outfit that one finds little need of in a rural place like Weardale. To deal with this, Ian and I went down to his home in Cardiff a day before the festivities began. Fortunately, along with the usual formal ware shops, I was able to locate a costume hire place, and came away with an Edwardian-era men’s formal evening outfit. I’m not quite sure what the local residents thought of it, but being a foreigner, I can always blame any apparent eccentricities on a lack of understanding of the subtleties of local custom.

The weather down South was, as usual, warmer than the North, though we did get some rain, which did cool things down a bit on the day I was wearing a fairly heavy woolen outfit. Driving back on Sunday, the trip started out at around 21C (70F) but by the time I got to Hartside Top on the western Pennine Escarpment, it had dropped to around 7C (45F). This morning begins cloudy, misty, and cool, with a fairly strong breeze. Typical North Pennine weather, I guess, but the BBC forecast says it should be clearing by afternoon. At least the breeze keeps the midges at bay.

Back at the mine on Monday, we helped Dave muck out the face following the blast last week, and got the required timber hauled up from the quarry to the mine landing. Not horribly exciting, but I realized long ago that mining for specimens is around 90% infrastructure work and 10% actually collecting. If that. We’ve also had a few visitors this week, and those on Monday got to spend much of the day watching the loco and muck tub come and go for much of the day.

Tuesday morning we helped Dave finish timbering at the face, and were able to start collecting by early afternoon. The zone of alteration appears to be expanding across the face, and there was considerable fluorite showing, particularly on the east side. Unfortunately, the mineralized zone is still made up of numerous thin stringers of fluorite sandwiched between layers of ironstone, and finding what might qualify as a decent specimen has so far proved difficult. The zone is rather brecciated, which makes digging by hand fairly easy, but it also means that we are getting more loose crystals and bits of fluorite than crystals on matrix. At least our customers for the baggies of green “aquarium gravel” should be happy.

Two of our visitors yesterday were John Veevaert and his friend Ronna Jewett, who are shown in today’s photo modeling the latest in Rogerley mine-ware fashion. John was one of the first mineral dealers to actively embrace the internet back in the mid-1990s. Prior to yours truly’s modest efforts at website design, John posted our reports from the mine on his Trinity Minerals website, and I’ve been after him all the succeeding years to come for a visit. Ronna is fairly new to mineral collecting, but seems to have taken to it like a fish to water, and spent a number of hours picking crystals out of our mud while Cal and I dug at the face. It was nice to finally get them here, if only for a day.

Today we will be back at the face in hopes of turning up something decent. I suspect that in a few hours we will both be thoroughly wet, muddy and cold as a result, but in the mining business hope springs eternal – or at least until the bank account runs dry. We also hope to have visit from a local friend in the auto repair business to do a load test on the loco batteries, which despite our cleaning efforts are still not taking a full charge. I really hope that he will not tell us that too many of the batteries are going bad as new ones cost over £100 and the thing takes eight of them!

We are also expecting a visit from a local steel fabricator to look at the latch and lock on one of our containers. We’ve had a number of break-ins recently and the most recent occurred over the past weekend. The miscreants seem to have only taken three of our cap-lamps, which without batteries and charger will likely do them little good. The most annoying part is that they severely mangled the lock/latch mechanism on the container. Hopefully we can get something fabricated that will be more secure.


Cheers, Jesse, Ian, Cal & Kerith

John and Ronna getting down and dirty!

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