Saturday morning and it was a geoconservation morning at Rock Edge, Headington, Oxford. Rock Edge is a triple-SI (SSSI – Site of Special Scientific Interest) and I am a member of the Oxfordshire Geology Trust or OGT. Today we were working with another group – the Oxford Geology Group, or OGG. If you think that sounds like a Monty Python sketch from “Life of Brian” you might well be right! Anyway, part of the remit of both groups is to maintain the appearance, condition and accessibility of classic geological sites – such as this site. Rock Edge is a fossilised coral reef basically, mentioned many times in the geological literature. Physically it is an fairly extensive shallow quarry set in the middle of an otherwise residential area of Oxford. Local children probably think of it as somewhere to play on their mountain bikes.
My first task was to walk the short distance to Richard & Margaret’s house, to refill the hot water that Denise had brought along for tea & coffee but had managed to spill in her car. So for the second time in less than a week, I navigated the little cut-through that I previously hadn’t known about for almost 30 years.
After that I joined the others in hacking weeds, scrubbing the rock face, shovelling earth and, well, gardening, basically. I did observe that if anyone saw us, they would think we were all doing community work as a result of local sentencing. The photo shows the results of our labours (ie cleaned & newly-exposed rock face) in just one of about four areas we worked on.
The sound of an old British motorbike signified Paul R S’s arrival . Paul was en route to visiting another friend, and previous posts will reveal that we’ve had several discussions about the respective tragedies in our lives. Paul previously worked at IBM and we were engineers together about a hundred years ago in Croydon, then colleagues in a team centered around Brighton, then fellow long-distance walkers and ramblers on many occasions. Anyway we’ve got history.
PRS had arranged to drop by for a cuppa, so we had a chat. I showed him the site, total bemusement would probably sum up his reaction. He’d also bought me a present – you can see it propped up on his bike. It’s an old wooden signpost “Downs Link” indicating the South Downs Way, one of many routes we walked – when? I would guess in the late 1990’s, I can’t be bothered to look it up. I rescued the sign from a collapsed signpost and presented it to him, it apparently was on show in his garden and garage since then, and now he says it’s my turn to look after it. Nice! it’s now on show in my garage, picture sometime perhaps.
Discussed my latest issues with him and he curtly said “stop beating yourself up about it” which was encouraging. He didn’t stay long, but I missed the second session of clearance work, no problem, I just enjoy being with like-minded geologists and talking rocks every now and then. Unfortunately two people knew me well enough to ask how my wife was, but didn’t know me well enough for me to have informed them, if you follow me. So that was a bit of a downer.
One of our party found an almost brand-new mountain bike concealed in the undergrowth, obviously nicked and waiting to be retrieved at a safe time. The police were duly informed and they eventually turned up in a van to collect it. They claimed to know the owner, so that was a result.
A quick pub lunch at the White Horse in Headington after that, then home. I slept for an hour and a half or so, it’s all catching up with me. Still not sleeping very well. Mundane jobs in the rest of the afternoon – cleaning out the car, replacing a headlight bulb, cleaning out the GP’s cage. In the evening I switched on the ‘puter to upload photos and looked at an album of photos of J that I have on Facebook, to see if I could recognise where she was within Rock Edge. To my surprise, this was too much, and I started crying again, haven’t done that for almost a week now. I think it was how familiar her face was in the photos, and how I can’t believe she is no longer here. So here’s the photos that caused the problem. Circa 1983 I think, when she briefly experimented with blonde hair: