Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather here has quickly returned to normal after our brief hot spell last week, with daily temperatures up to around 13 – 15C (55 – 59F). Sunday afternoon, as I was making a Skype call home to Joan, the sky clouded over, and after some introductory thunder, it began to lash down rain. This was just about the time we usually head to the pub, so the Blue Bell became the obvious choice, being only a few steps away. The rain continued through yesterday, though thankfully in a somewhat diminished capacity. This morning begins cool and wet from overnight rains. The wind is up and ragged clouds are racing by, exposing only brief patches of blue sky. I suspect conditions today will be what are described as “unsettled” in local weather-speak.

Saturday at the mine Dave and Joe began cleaning up at the face after the last shot, while Cal and I weighed and numbered shipping bins to assemble our second pallet for shipment back to California. We assemble and store our pallets in the corner of a work shed at the timber yard here in the quarry, and on Saturdays they’re only open until noon, so the morning was a bit of a rush to get this done.

Back at the mine we found Dave and Joe beginning the muck and timber cycle, but this was going slowly due to a number of large, loose rocks at the face that Dave was having trouble bringing down with the long bar. Cal and I spent part of the afternoon cleaning and wrapping recently collected specimens, and now have a start on pallet number three. Ian took on the role of mucker’s assistant, helping Joe tip the tubs over the side as they emerged from the mine. Today’s photo is of Ian attempting to wash some of the adhering mud out of our tub between loads. By day’s end they has made a dent in the muck pile, but finishing the job spilled over into Monday.

Yesterday we managed to get much of the mucking done at the face, though it was further complicated by the need to re-do some of the previous set of timbering because of blast damage. By the time Dave and Joe were away at 1400 everything was clear enough for us to get back and resume collecting at the face, though in a somewhat restricted fashion as the latest set of timbers was not yet in. The shot had pulled almost exactly the amount of ground we wanted to move, bringing up within easy reach of the fluorite seams that were being so productive late last week. Believe me, it doesn’t always turn out this way!

By day’s end we had collected a couple tubs of new specimens, a few larger bits that will require the chain saw, and a couple more bags of single crystals and small bits. Everyone was also thoroughly wet and cold, especially Ian who had developed a leaky wellie somewhere along the way. Back up dale, a hot bath, and a pint of Bombardier at the Blue Bell, and he seemed much recovered from the experience. Unfortunately, he may be in for the same today unless we can find him a boot that doesn’t leak. Time to order some new ones.

Stay tuned for more.


Jesse, Ian, Cal & Kerith

Ian washing up the muck tub.

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