It was a wet old day to travel from Farnham to Portsmouth Harbour but it had to be done. While I went shopping first, I was soon taking a bus then a couple of trains. Not that it was all that smooth. Annoyingly, a train had broken down on the way to (or from) Guildford so I had to go to Portsmouth via Woking.
The reason I was heading south was because today was the day for the long anticipated tour of the new Dockyard Library.
We had been well prepared for the fact that it is still a building site. For this reason it was to be a hard hat tour. It was also a flouro vest tour which meant we all matched the builders somewhat.
And there were many builders. It was still a building site after all. I felt like I’d been transported back in time a few decades. The smells, the sights, the dust. I was having flashbacks to earlier times.
Before the tour, however, I had to find the Princess Royal Gallery. There is no signage and Heather’s email wasn’t that helpful. Still, I managed to drag myself in out of the rain and into the main museum and ask at the desk. A very helpful lady told me to head up the stairs and join the other willing volunteers already gathered.
There were about 15 of us. They were expecting 23 and given the weather, this wasn’t too bad. All 15 of us were quite damp.
We were then split into two groups. The first group set off for the building tour while the rest of us had a chat about the future direction of travel. And it seems the direction may be somewhat different to what it was. A lot of Projects rather than just working through stuff.
Actually, I don’t see how that’s much different to what I was doing before.
We were told the Project thing was in order to allow more volunteers to get involved.
Dates are still very much up in the air which was made instantly clear when we toured the building. It’s still, essentially, a shell. Upstairs, where the staff office and collection store will be, is being painted but there’s no racking or furniture of any kind installed yet.
Even so, you can see the potential and just how much better it’s going to be. Bright, airy, comfortable, everything you really want in a Library. And it will be open to the public. Eventually. Probably by the back end of summer.
As for the staff, the present thinking is that they can start making it habitable by the end of March. Volunteers may be asked to help from April. There were no promises. Obviously.
I was re-aquainted with a couple of chaps who remembered me and met an ex-navy fellow who had some interesting stories about Royal Marines. It seems, on the whole, that they don’t feel the cold. At all. Tougher than American marines, he told me.
Eventually it was over (it only took an hour) and I was back on a train heading for home. Though I did stop momentarily at my favourite boat.
And, in the interests of accurate reporting, the weather was awful and I managed to get quite wet. Mind you I wasn’t as wet as the father and son who caught the same train as me to Guildford. They were both completely drenched.