After all the rain and grey, grey days, the newly arrived cold spell came as a relief. True, we had had a flurry or two of snow a couple of days back, and the roads were icy, but the cold clear air was enticing. The small amount of snow had frozen hard on the common, particularly the boardwalk.
Early arrivals for the working party felt the cold; all they needed was for the physical stuff to get under way, but until then, it was a trifle parky!
We had a good turnout; 14 volunteers, including three youngsters. As usual, the banter was great, and the cold was soon forgotten.
Margaret managed to keep her feet, despite the need to cross a ditch; perhaps because she had a pitchfork to keep her upright while she dragged a sheet.
This time we had all four of the new drag sheets in action throughout the session. Most working parties include some new refinement in our system, and this time saw the debut of the new ground anchor. This is used to secure a turning block, allowing us to winch sheets at an angle to their eventual destination. There was a suggestion that we should one day a year revert to the Old Ways, when we dragged everything ourselves, but I don't think it will get much support!
An earlier refinement was the use of whistles to signal between the winch team and the people guiding a dragged sheet. This has become a speciality of your correspondent (a.k.a. blogger). This is in sharp contrast to the more recent refinement of the inter-changeable towing bars on the drag sheets; the number of times I have un-hooked the wrong bits has now become the stuff of legend. Happily, I have worked out which end of a whistle to blow in... Note also the snazzy trousers.
Half-way through we had the obligatory tea break - thank goodness it's no longer just cold juice! Somehow, on a bright sunny morning, we managed to convene in the shade; perhaps that was to encourage us back to work.
As has been usual with the use of the winch and the new sheets, our dumping heaps have become taller than in past years. Here is this week's one, in the process of growing.
Tall heaps like this are naturally great fun for young people to climb. It's almost four years since these two were photographed doing this, but they were happy to reprise it for the record.
The morning was a great success. Here is Chairman John's message of thanks:
A very big thank you is due to all who helped this morning and I sincerely hope you feel as satisfied as me with today's job well done. The part we are on now only comes round once in four years so it is especially rewarding and memorable to see it on such a glorious day; just as well that Duncan took lots of pictures. I was pleased with the new land anchor and relieved that we managed in such soft ground, further demonstrating our ability to tackle anything. The next session, on 31st January, will carry on where we left off today and hopefully finish the whole area.
Thanks again and best wishes from John
17th January 2016"
And here is the view across the site, after all that hard work.