Thursday, 30 August 2012

A message from Jerry...

I'd just like to send a quick message of thanks to everyone who chipped in for my leaving present, it's a gesture that means a lot to me. The money will go toward a shiny new camera lens (I've been told it's worth getting the best one I can).

Living and working on Skokholm and Skomer has been a terrific experience and I was sad to leave when I departed for the final time last Sunday. It felt like the end of a great holiday – when you're resigned to going home but know you'll take lots of good memories with you. That is tinged with excitement about what the future holds and a bit of mild panic as I'm rushing to pack belongings and find somewhere to live in Cambridge.

Life on the islands would be very different if not for The Friends. For a start I probably wouldn't have had the same job on Skokholm I've had for the past two years as The Friends have been the driving force behind the restoration project. The planning, purchasing, delivering, recruiting and actual building is a huge achievement and I'm always amazed at what gets achieved by enthusiastic, often untrained, volunteers. But it's not just the restoration work; in day-to-day running of the island there are a number of members who are always willing to help from the mainland - sending stuff out, consulting on problems or coming across to help out. Knowing that there's such a dedicated group behind you makes wardening Skokholm a whole lot easier.

The Friends of Skokholm and Skomer is doing a terrific job, I just want to thank you all for being members and hope you get out to visit the islands more and more.

Jerry Gillham

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Full house on Skokholm Island

A full house on Skokholm for the first workparty
this last week 

This first autumn workparty week has been  busy and eventful. A team of six builders ( our usual crowd) and  seven volunteers met at Martins Haven on Saturday. Jerry, our warden  and Charlotte, his girlfriend joined us for a  last week on the Island for Jerry before departing for Bird Island.  Tim Healing was also of the party to make a start on his mouse research. 

A mountain  of equipment was loaded. Mixers, Jack hammers, tampers and electrician Henry's tools, food for  a team of 20 was all heaved on to the Princess. John Reynolds  calm and efficient as ever, skippered the boat and landed us all in an agitated and bouncing sea,

Long term volunteers Teresa and Leighton
hard at work  
The plan for the week was to start on the water system installation, repair the top of the jetty and re-roof the kitchen and warden's quarters. Several Tank bases needed to be built this involved a lot of digging up old pipes and laying tank 

Leighton and Renate 

Some of the  builders immediately set up the scaffolding, working with the volunteers to explore the top of the jetty. This work proved  more problematic than anticipated and the top of the jetty will need more work in the spring. This time around it was made safe and tied in to withstand another winter. 

 The others made a start on the roof of the warden quarters and the kitchen.
Warden quarters and kitchen roof is off

The water work involved the setting up of several tank bases which had to be absolutely level.
within a few millimeters. This proved quite a challenge to some of us. Several attempts and lots of advice did pay off and all 4 tank bases are now in place. 

The pipe work was equally confusing at times. Now the pipes lie on the surface of the Island

waiting to be dug under  the turf. All connections still to be sorted out.

Henry our very own electrician wired up the cottage and now all the rooms have light.
He also set up the solar panels to power the system and installed the hot water system in the wheelhouse. Henry worked in the Lighthouse as an apprentice at the age of 16 he has returned to Skokholm recently as a volunteer electrician. He is obviously happy in his work. 

On Tuesday a boat arrived with  Gordon the  film maker, who has been filming events on the Island for  over a  year. The series called 'Dream Island' will be shown on the Welsh Television in September  in six half hour series. This week two actors worked with Gordon to recreate some of the iconic scenes on Skokholm. Our volunteers  were pressed into acting roles of the man from the ministry and rabbit catcher, and keeper of the light. 
Jasper as the rabbit catcher 

Keith as the man from the ministry 

Keith and young Lockley 

Nick as the keeper of the light 

On wednesday we had a party to say our goodbye's to Jerry. He has been a great support and help to the Friends. He  has worked so very hard handling impossible deliveries and shifting  large amounts  of sand and cement. His heart and soul went into the restoration of the cottage. We sent him on his way and expect him to return to the Friends reunion a star presenter in 2014 on his return. A festive table and a fantastic meal was enjoyed by all. Our cook Anne cooked for Wales catering for 22 at one stage with a smile and good humour

Another fabulous week on Skokholm with a team of great and skilled volunteers who achieved more than would seem humanly possible. Lots of work and lots of fun. A lot of weather from brilliant sunshine to torrential rain and gales. 

A big thank you to all who came and helped and a special thank you to the three very special  long term volunteers: Will, Teresa and Leighton who have worked hard and given their all during their time on the Island. 

Thursday, 16 August 2012

TV Series and Island Bookings

Both Skomer and Skokholm will be on the TV soon:-

Skomer as part of the Springwatch Special on 23rd August at 9pm with some fledgling puffins and an update from Iolo Williams. 

Skokholm from 14th September - a series of six programmes on ITV Wales (sadly perhaps not on English TV) but also around the time of Coronation Street - so peak viewing time??  I gather the series will be called soemthing like "Dream Island" and will cover the work of the last few years with a background of Lockley's endevours - there have even been actors on the island doing Lockley impersinations!  watch this spcae for more information.

Island Bookings will be open soon too - Skokholm from 10th September for members and from 17th for everyone and Skomer from 1st October for members and 15th October for everyone.  Look at the Skomer blog for more information.

On Skokholm in 2013 there will be a new Warden and the lighthouse will be used by staff and researchers so there will be additional bed spaces at the Observatory buildings.