I did it! I got through the first day of the final season! Day 1 is always a huge challenge, and today was no exception. Last night 74 people arrived to camp on site…..fortunately the weather was perfect, no-one got lost, and everybody who should have been there was! It was immensely gratifying to watch the campsite fill up….like a smoothly oiled machine! I have to pay tribute to my self styled Hospitality Team, led with great panache by Gareth and Bradley. They fell just short of having a Hospitality T-shirt printed, but did sterling work at the campsite gate meeting and greeting newcomers, showing them to tent pitches – and helping out where needed. The greeting-meeting group at times boiled over with excitement – but it IS exciting! Arriving for a number of weeks in a field in the middle of Hampshire with nothing to do but dig and socialise! Well, no wonder the Hospitality team were fizzing!
A quick visit by Mike and I to the archaeology on site…..deciding strategy, planning on where to put the first trowel the next day…
At 6.45pm I greeted all new arrivals; ‘we are a very friendly project’, and everyone retired to the marquee for ‘Family Dinner’. On Sunday nights, everyone eats in their Supervisory Teams so that all newcomers have a chance to meet their co-workers, and hopefully no-one feels intimidated or left out. Reading University’s Central Catering trundled up at 7pm with sooper dooper new lightweight catering boxes…..gammon for dinner with stuffed peppers for vegetarians and vegans. A superb dinner service was given by my 2nd year Placements – ably headed up by Tony Mears, a past master in the catering tent.
And here they are!
I also promised you a picture of the full to bursting marquee, after the empty one I took on Friday. Spot the difference….
Jon and I watched the shadows creep across the site…a stunning end to a beautiful day. Who would want to be anywhere else?
Monday morning…..the day dawned bright and sunny. I had my breakfast and morning coffee with Jean in the cook’s hut ……and then chaos reigned! But – we managed it! I had a complicated timetable of talks for all newcomers…..dividing 130 people into:
a) those who had been before
b) those who had not been before – Reading students
c) those who had not been before – others.
As long as everyone fell into one of those categories, all would be fine. I gave 3 separate site tours, and one of those was the same people twice…..if that makes any sense at all! They all had talks from Elise, my Finds Manager, and Cindy, my Science Manager. we hired trowels, sorted out rotas, gave out Handbooks and Interim reports…and rushed from A to B and back again. I gave a Health and Safety briefing – and then personally gave out 4 plasters for cut fingers, bashed knuckles and flint scraped wrists. All in a day’s work for an archaeologist! I talked Assessment with my Reading 1st years, discussed the next day’s school visit with Zoe, my Visitor manager, and welcomed back many old friends to the site. Great to see my International Placements back again – a big Hello to Jesse, Caitlin, Stefani, Kevin, Owen and Jordyn! I struggled with the technology at lunchtime as I set up a PowerPoint presentation by Michael Fulford in St. Mary’s church – and missed my lunch. Jean the cook hunted me down and presented me with a plate of avocado and prawns…..nothing but the best here at Camp Silchester! Jen, my on-site Admin assistant, wore out the cogs of her printer, printing out lists and rotas…..
Oh, it was a busy busy day and my eyes are closing. BUT everything is set up, everyone is on site – and, as I write, the vast majority of my team are at the Calleva Arms dancing with the Kennet Morris Men. I will miss this next year.
And a peaceful picture of Sue’s Roman garden to end on…..