Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Greetings from Weardale.

Summer has been a fleeting thing here so far this year. We seem to be getting it one day at a time – or less! Yesterday was a good example. The day started off fairly clear, but breezy and cool. I think the temperature was around 15C when we arrived at the mine. By mid-afternoon heavy clouds had moved in, and from the mine landing I could see that it was raining up the dale. Somehow, it never got around to more than a sprinkle at the mine, and with the wind up, everything dries out fairly quickly. It remained cool and drippy through the evening, and the often-present cloud bank to the west deprived us of any sort of sunset colors, once again. This morning all is overcast and still. With no wind, it could be a good day for the midges, so let’s hope that our ever-changeable weather will change once again.

Back at the mine on Saturday, much of the time was spent hosting visitors, including a group of folks from the Russell Society and the Southampton mineral club, who had made the trip north for a weekend of mine visits, and an old friend from Derbyshire who had never actually seen what we’ve been up to here for all these years. After showing friends around and satisfying their curiosity about just what brings us all the way here each summer, the three of us were able to spend a bit of time at the face. Sadly, we quickly found that, although fluorite is showing in several seams across the face, everything was coming out in crumbles and bits, and only a couple mediocre specimens were actually recovered. Ian quickly noticed that another large roof rock on the right side of the face was showing signs of coming loose on us. Rather than try to deal with it late in the day, we decided to close up and leave it to see if it was going to come down on it’s own.

Sunday was the traditional day off. Cal and Kerith drove over to Kendal for a visit with Lindsay and Patricia Greenbank, while I paid bills, boxed some fluorite to be shipped home for posting on the internet, and had another coffee. By early afternoon Ian, his wife Di who is visiting for a few days, and I managed to get up the motivation to venture out and made the trip to Hexham to pick up some tuna steaks for supper.

Yesterday, after a visit to the local branch of Barclay’s bank to try and sort out a replacement for our soon to expire debit card, Cal and I arrived at the mine to find local friend Helen Wilkinson waiting at the gate, along with a couple friends from the Allendale Smelt Mill reconstruction project that she is involved with. Up at the face we found that the large, threatening rock had not come down on its own volition, so out came the long bars and down it came with our assistance. With it out of the way, we spent a few hours digging and washing the face, but to no more luck than we had on Saturday. With little entertainment to be had at the face, Helen gave her friends a tour around the mine, and them went out to have a ratch around the tip. Evidently, even that was not very productive, and upon coming out for our lunch break, I found her with a shovel and barrow, shifting rock to fill in some of the potholes in our quarry road. I really wish we had more friends like this! Today’s photo is of Helen at work.

The debit card issue with our bank account isn’t yet settled, so this morning I will be making a trip to our branch office in Bishop Auckland, which is about a 45-minute drive. Hopefully this will not take too long, and I will join Cal at the mine to ponder our next steps. I suspect that we will need to blast the face again, which mean that nothing will really happen until Dave is back from his bike meet in Belgium. Hopefully, this will be tomorrow.

Stay tuned for more.


Jesse, Ian, Cal & Kerith

Helen demonstrating her skills at road repair.

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