Day 0!

Sunday 26th June 2011…it takes just under 5 hours for the campsite to take shape. Over 100 people arrived over the course of the afternoon…that is over 100 tents of all sizes and shapes! Most popular this year is the ‘tepee’ tent  and the old fashioned scouting tent…..the view from the air must be a riot of colours and shapes! Greeting all new arrivals at the gate were a group of 2nd and 3rd year Reading students – all ‘old hands’ now, and ready to guide newcomers to pitches, help with mallets, and chant the Health and Safety mantra of ‘all tents must be set over 3m apart!’ By the Cook’s hut, Rob and Matt set the barbeque up and roast sausages and burgers, chop coleslaw and fill bowl after bowl with couscous salad. Smoke and spices fill the air as the camp site gradually fills up and the air is thick with excited shouts as people find friends and bond over a crooked tent peg. By 7pm everyone is assembled, John Brown and the Saga Louts have cracked open their first bottle of wine of the evening and the newcomers await my Welcome talk in the Marquee. I gather them together and am struck – once again – of how nervous many of them seem, and how out of place they look with anxious faces and clean clothes, yet to show the wear and tear of an excavation. It is my job to reassure them, to try to put them at their ease and attempt to instil a sense of excitement about the discoveries to come. All newcomers are then invited to sit with their Supervisory ‘family’ in order to get to know some of the people they will be working with the next day; it is a  good ice breaker. The ice is further smashed as we pick lots to choose the order of teams queuing for food….Trapper’s team wins and everyone runs for the head of the queue. It’s a great way to meet people when trampling over them to get to the burgers first…After food and the logistics of washing up…..the entirety of the excavation……almost….heads down to the Calleva Arms for an introductory drink. We will be on site at 9am tomorrow…and for many this will be the start of an experience which will change their lives…..

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