Slates and more rain from Work Party 3

The 23rd ended with the Work Party members helping Julie to celebrate her birthday, and yesterday began with the arrival of another cruise ship. The weather unfortunately has continued to be miserable, so the 60+ poor souls who ventured ashore were on the whole not very happy bunnies.  Common garb (bought on the cruise ship), appears to be clear polythene ponchos and trousers – very fetching. I asked one lady from Australia, what islands they had visited on the cruise. She was not sure. I then asked where they were sailing on to. She was not sure.

Yesterday was scheduled as another working day, but with the weather, some jobs could not be continued (painting gutters in the rain is not a constructive past-time). Instead, Kevin, the NTS archaeologist, suggested another quite important task that was not on our list but needed done.  Two boxes of slates had been delivered to the base, and needed to be put under shelter before winter – ideally in the old ammunition store just behind the gun. Someone (I suspect WP 2) had transported the contents of one box up already.

Sadly, the rest of the ammunition store is full of slumped piles of slates, and we had no space to put the contents of another box. After a group discussion and a quick call to the NTS Inverness office, we decided to remove the neatly piles slates (put there by WP2?) to give us working space.

As the ammunition store is flooding with water due to the ground behind now being quite high up the wall, all the slates at the bottom are resting in standing water. In the space where we cleared out the slates, we then put in wooden strips to raise the ground level.  By forming a chain, we passed the slates out and up to stack them on the roof of the store. By mid afternoon, we were all rather damp, and called it a day.

Today began with a guided tour of the village by Kevin. I had already done one where we talked about the people who lived in the houses and the more modern history of the village. Kevin talked about the archaeology. Then, with the weather not being good for walking (we had planned a walk to the cleit at the end of the world, but the mist was below the level of the Gap), we started work. The damp weather means that the village street is becoming quite muddy, but this will dry up very quickly if the weather improves…

Following discussion, it was decided that the gun could not be left in red all winter, so although not ideal, we should try to get a coat of bitumen on it. The intention is to clean it right back to metal next year and treat it in the same paint as the Forth Rail Bridge (though not of course in red!). Work on this progressed till the mist turned to rain, when it was abandoned for the day. 

Work on gutters and the church continued also till the rain came on, and, having built a platform for the slates in the ammunition store, we transferred the slates back in off the roof, and then transferred the contents of the box of slates on the base up as well. Clearing the rest of the slates and stacking them properly is a big job for a work party next year

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On the tour of the village, we looked at a stone with an incised cross built on to 1 house, and today on his tour Kevin showed the group another one on the ground at the gable wall of a house. There is a third one, still to be shown to the group, which is cut in to one of the slabs on the roof of Cleit 74.

We have 1 day of work left, so are looking at the tasks remaining and deciding how best to complete them. More follows.