The Groundhog

It is Groundhog Day at Worms Head!

The Groundhog is our lookout for the next six weeks while work is carried out at Worms Head Base. As you can see it is of a subtle blue colour which blends nicely with the green of the grass and the yellow of the gorse, practically invisible!

It will be wonderful when the work is completed and we move back to Base, as it were. The chintz curtains and the Laura Ashley wallpaper should be most restful but the greatest luxury will be windows that open to let in cool, fresh air. In summer the place can become unbearably hot and watchkeepers have complained about losing weight. So much so that some seem to have disappeared completely – I wonder sometimes what has happened to Pat who, earlier in the year, was on the training course with me. How strange!

I am on watch with Maddy and we arrive at 13.45 to take over from the first watch, the causeway is open until 17.05 and there are many walkers to be seen on the Worm. With the naked eye I can see a large group sitting on the Outer Head, probably having a picnic – I do hope they don’t get drowsy. The working party are hanging about outside, their work of clearing out ‘Base’ now complete. I think they were waiting for a cup of tea. They left in the end, still thirsty – the kettle finally reached boiling point at 3 o’clock!

As in all things there are plusses and there are minuses. The new position is ideal, down to the left we can clearly see the causeway, previously we had to stand on the front rung of our high chairs to check the rate of flooding. (If any of you have just created an image of watchkeepers wearing pelican bibs, just be suitably ashamed of yourselves!) The biggest drawback is that we have no electric power – at Base we had our own wind and solar generation, now watchkeepers will have to remember to take everything that needs charging to Audrey’s recharging station at Middleton. Tours strictly by appointment!

The door took a bit of getting used to. This is heavy industrial quality but once I caught on to the ‘tug and slide’ method of opening and sussed how to release the top stay in order to close it then everything was fine. Maddy seemed to catch on to the method much sooner than I did. Heavy industrial doors need heavy means of fastening and the sound of the bolts locking into place brought back memories of Ronnie Barker and Porridge! Lock up time at Worm’s Head cells!

No incidents this time! Even the picnickers managed to make their way back in good time.

Finally it was time to close up and there we had a slight disaster. The windows had hinged covers and they had to be closed in a certain order. The odds were actually quite good because there were only two options but Murphy’s Law says that even when there is a 50/50 chance you’re going to get it wrong. Murphy’s Law is always right. As I was struggling with the bolts my foot slipped and knocked over the frame that holds the numbers to make up the causeway closing times. The retaining strip came off and it will now need repair.

Confession is very good for the soul so, there we are!

Bill, it was me! My apologies.

Photos by watchkeepers Rob Evans, Ron Tovey and Peter Townsend