May 2003

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White Rose Group feat. Owen Powell and new boy Andy "Soft Southern Ponce" Elms, on his last full week of volunteering as a bachelor.

Bright and early at 6 a.m. from Minffordd: Owen and Slap in the train, the rest in cars or 4x4s. Why do the Japanese put the indicators on the wrong side? I don't want to wash the windscreen when I turn left.

The object of the weekend was baseplating Tafarntrip, removing the old screwed-down clips and adding new plates with Pandrol fixings. Up goes the train to unload everything, Bances, Stumechen, jacks, plates, screws, bolts and, at the last moment, a T-key as "insurance". With Alco out on a guest driver "play train" it was a case of getting as much done and making safe in a full section possession before we had to start lugging stop boards about between trains.

All too soon then, with the guest driver due, it was time to take the train down to TyB loop for teabreak, then hitch a lift in Number 12's brakevan back to site. The choice of Alco became obvious from the guest drivers' accents. Upon stopping, the door won't open. Carriage key anyone? As if by magic the GM appeared with the necessary.

The younger of the volunteers are becoming a useful resource. While one volunteer drilled, Jonny and Sam were busy clearing away the sawdust from the baseplates and greasing bolts, ready for them to be Stumec'd down.

Ah, the eponymous powered screwdrivers, and the WRG ability to break them. One died with a fuel problem, and no amount of Owen Powell's tinkering around the tank would make her go. So, continue with the Bance, until its chuck centrifugally bifurcated. Time to play our joker – a couple of blokes on the "insurance" T-key. Even then that was far from simple, as it is just the right height to do a nasty if it slips. SSP was speaking in a high pitched voice for the rest of the day, but the track was fastened down ready for trains to run. Plenty of time for a wander down to a position of safety at pre-1851 Garnedd Ledge to let the down and up pass, before taking over TyB for lunch and down tools at the 2 p.m. shift end. Time for hostel and a siesta.

Another bright and early start on Sunday, thankfully no play-trains to get in the way of work so no need to move the tool vans off site until 10:30. With Stumechan retired injured it was down to the Bance, which under the expert care of Slap had the job finished by lunch.

So, a decent team working like a well oiled machine – and the younger volunteers playing an important and useful role. More importantly, this self-styled "Soft Southern Ponce" (he'll regret saying that) makes a not-half-bad of tea. He'll be invited again.

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