Coming as something of a blessed relief, the sun finally made an appearance on the last Saturday in August, as the Friends, volunteers and a select band of visitors foregathered at Hemingfield Colliery.
In the near distance the sounds of late harvesting echoed across the valley: the constant hum of a combine reaping, threshing, and winnowing the golden fields. A propitious start to the day.
Staying on the front foot after weeks of catch-up activities, the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery arrived earlier than usual at the pit. Early, if not bright, but in good spirits!
Opening up for a brisk day of tidying, ticking off a series of smaller, but useful, odd jobs; the bits and bobs (or random tasks, depending on your point of view) which really need doing, but aren’t always the first priorities. Variety being the spice of life, it was a fun day and great to see volunteer efforts have real impact during the day itself.
Another week of non-abominable weather gave the Friends and volunteers a further chance to push on with site recording and restoration. In a week when the UK Government’s national restrictions were lifted in England, the cloud of a growing third wave of infections hung over the country. Vaccination levels were reassuring and continued to save lives, but the with Delta variant much more transmissable, and disease spreading, things remained a little hazy All change? We travelled in hope.
If you had told us Hemingfield had somehow been transported to the Caribbean this weekend, no-one would have questioned it. The sandy beaches might have been in short supply, but there was certainly plenty of sun, and even some tourists!
Saturday 10th July 2021 was almost a dot day. Not because of the mounting excitement ahead of the Euro 2020 final and the hopes (ultimately dashed) for England men’s football team, but rather because the weather forecast looked wet and miserable. Nevertheless the Friends and regular volunteers braved the elements.
In the event, ‘Plan B’ of indoor building recording work, followed by a swift exit proved unnecessary, and it was a very active and incredibly hot-and-humid day to be working outdoors, mostly bringing the growth of green stuff back into order.
After a short hiatus, the Friends and volunteers gathered for another socially-distanced outdoor working session on site.
Although decisions around lifting national lockdown restrictions in England were held back for four weeks until 19th July 2021, and there were worrying signs of Covid-19 infections rising with the new ‘Delta variant’, still the protection of an effective vaccination programme and gave the crew confidence in working outdoors, in a small group, albeit behind closed gates for a further push on restoration activities.
Keeping up the pace the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery and regular volunteers returned on Saturday 12th June. Just a week since the last session. Clearly they had the bit between their teeth; the wall-pointing bug was evident: a crazed addiction if ever there was one.
This week was crowned by gravity-defying high scaffold work, and equally heightened temperatures. Hemingfield may not have enjoyed the global media attention of the G7 summit happening in Corbis Bay, Cornwall, but lacked none of the fabulous weather. Who needs the pabulum and bluster of world leaders when you have the wit and wisdom determined volunteers? Such geopolitical debates aside, what *is* the right way of spreading cream and jam on a scone?
Bank Holiday weather is usually euphemistic cover for a downpour, rather than the hoped-for rays of sunshine on a public holiday, but Spring Bank Holiday 2021 was a nice surprise: a long, bright, dry and hot weekend for a change. A holiday at home. Almost. Certainly a fabulous day to be outdoors.
Continuing the effort to return to normal, or as near to normal as anyone can get during a global pandemic, the Friends and regular volunteers foregathered once again on Saturday 22nd May and – ever the optimists – endeavoured to do a little more maintenance on the site at Hemingfield after a thoroughly mixed week of rain and everything except regular sunshine.