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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Welcome to Kate Cole, Bess and Daisy

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A warm hello to Kate Cole (now Dumycz) who sends this picture of herself on the Hill.  "The dogs were my mother's - muts called Bess and Daisy."  She also writes: 

"I lived in Stroud - Richard [Savage] had put up posters for the dig in my local library where I saw one.  My first stint at Crickley was my school's work experience (and what an experience - don't think it'd be allowed these 'elf-and-safety conscious days!).  

If this was in 1980 (rather then the 1979 you have), then I rather fear that the 17 year old was me. I do recall Richard being there to greet myself and my parents and I was deposited in the very far end female dorm. [Dorm 4. Ed.] I was actually only 16 and very scared and nervous about what I'd let myself in for!  The next day the very first person I met was JP... I'm pretty sure that I must have been the person that Richard hid you all from.  I do remember shortly after being left in the dorm by my parents that Ros [Cleal] turned up and was in a very giggly mood and was looking at me in a strange way.  Now, 28 years later, I know why!!!  [So that I don't hear from Dr Cleal's solicitors, I'd like to make clear that she was not part of the collection of wet diggers in the back of the Land Rover. I expect she gave me a strange look too, doubtless well-merited! Ed.]

The regulars seemed to be so sophisticated to my 16 year old mind!  They all seemed to know what they were doing and were smooth operators with it!  I was terrified of some of the more seasoned regulars and the caustic remarks and nicknames!  I remember Training and I also remember the lad nicknamed Leatherhead (because that's where he came from).  But I loved it enough to do 3 seasons - the 1980 season I was only supposed to do one week but came back for the final two weeks.  I did the entire 1981 season and 2 weeks in 1982.  

I remember you dashing around on the dumper trucks. And weren't you the Elsan king too? [Yes, indeed - I held that honourable office, Kate: someone had to do it &  my mother was an operating theatre nurse during the war, so she brought me up to have a strong stomach! Ed.]  The Elsans were still there and in use in 1980 (and possibly 1981?).  I was working on the section that was the furthest away from anything. I recall that there was a choice of a 10-15 min there-and-back walk to the toilet block or a quick couple of minutes dash to the Elsans. I remember the supervisor's glares as I choose the former option... The smell of that wretched chemical - I can still recall it nearly 30 years later!  

On the poster you have of the sponsors is the name Major Birchall.  That must be the same major who (rather foolishly I always thought) invited the diggers to a summer party at his pad, which was an amazing Cotswold (manor?) house with extensive gardens.  He let us roam freely throughout his house and grounds - I can't remember if the food was up to much but the setting was amazing.  I remember trying to desperately scrub up and get myself clean and reasonably presentable for his party - not easy with those terrible showers! 

Amazing memories - some of the happiest times of my life." 

Welcome to the blog, Kate.

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