Thursday, July 17 2014

Good Morning from Weardale.

Back from our sojourn to Poland, and the weather here in Weardale seems much the same as when we left – cool with alternating outbreaks of rain and sunshine. While we had a bit or rain yesterday at the mine, the ponds in the quarry are now almost completely dry, so obviously, we had little of it while Ian and I were away.

The Lwowek Slaski Crystal Days was a fun experience – while having a mineral theme, it was essentially a large town fair with some mineral displays attached. The Spirifer Geological Society is a group of mineral collectors (largely from Warsaw, I think) who take over the town hall each year and put on a very nice display of Polish minerals. The rest of the fair consists of numerous stands about the center of town selling rocks, agates, jewelry, assorted trinkets and house wares, and lots of beer and pork products. There was a large stage that featured local rock bands each evening, and an amazingly good laser light show at the close of the fair.

Tom and Asia’s wedding was a fun event, and hardly what one would consider a “traditional” Polish wedding. The ceremony was held in the town hall (a lovely old medieval stone building) and presided over by the town’s mayor. This was followed by a number of receptions and parties, the last of which was held in a wooded glen outside the town with eating, drinking and dancing into the early hours of the morning. Similar events were staged every evening there-after, and I’m not sure how many more I would have been good for! After the closing laser show, Tom and Asia hosted one final party for their mineral friends in the town hall, which featured an incredible performance by Tom’s brother in law, a classical violinist, and his sister in law, a wonderful singer, which is the feature of today’s photo. All-in-all, a fun time with friends from many countries attending. The local brewery puts out a very good product as well.

We all returned to London on Monday, and the next day Joan headed back to San Francisco, Ian’s wife Di back to Cardiff, and the two of us back to Weardale. While we were away the driving of tunnel continued, and the main face was now about 3 meters bast where we left it. Unfortunately, it appears that the pocket we worked last summer has died out on us, and little more has been collected from it. Yesterday I spent a good bit of time, with the assistance of our local friend Helen digging out the connection between the current drift and last summer’s hand-dug cavity. By mid-afternoon one could squirm up the crawlspace and examine the back of the pocket, and after having a good look, it was obvious that the cavity was pinching out. There’s a bit of material left on the walls and floor of the pocket, which we hope to collect, but otherwise, time to move on.

Hopeful signs exist on the opposite (north) side of the current face, where a large patch of galena, massive fluorite and copious amounts of ironstone are now exposed. Ian spent a good bit of the day digging there and managed to turn up a number of green fluorite specimens of the sort we normally get from the flats. This is a good sign and hopefully we are at the edge of another pocket zone. We’ll likely need to more some rock to get better access, and unfortunately, Dave is now away to Belgium for his bike race for a week.

Scott Werschky, a friend from Reno, who was in Poland for the festivities is making a Weardale stop-over on his way back home, and was with us at the mine yesterday. Scott picked a spot to dig a bit back from the face and soon uncovered another of our purple vein pockets. Fortunately, this one was broken up a bit and over the course of the day he was able to collect a fair number of clusters and single crystals. The contents of these vein pockets can usually be described as “aesthetically challenged” but I think a few of the bits may make decent mineral specimens. We’ll know more today when we can examine them in a dry state.

Today we will be back at the face and see if we can move some rock and find out more about what is showing on the north side of the face. The cottage here is currently a bit of a sick ward – Kerith picked up a bit of food poisoning over the weekend, Cal left the mine early yesterday with a headache and chills, and Ian has a bit of a cold and sore throat. I seem to be the only one without a disease at the moment, and hope it stays that way!

Stay tuned for more.

Cheers, Jesse, Ian, Cal & Kerith

Wonderful midnight concert in Lwowek Slaski, Poland.

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