After a truly mammoth effort by all concerned, the testing has come to an end - in school anyway. Year 9 came and went on Friday morning, and by the end of the day the chairs and tables had gone, the boxes of Covid-related materials had been re-stored and the tarpaulins lifted from the floor. From the beginning of this week the boys and girls will re-occupy the Sports Hall for...sport!. It will be marvellous to see the restoration of the early morning cricket nets, the full court basketball and the massed yoga take over once a week. Incrementally and steadily we are starting to re-experience what life in school should be like, and each new facet is a revelation. Classes are all running, practices are happening, music is being made; it really is like the awakening of a slumbering giant.
The latest manifestation of recovery took place on Sunday, as the DofE students came to school to do some initial sessions with James Oldham and the team from H5 Adventure. The numbers are impressive - over 30 sixth form boys and girls at Gold, over 20 Silver award candidates from Year 10 and north of 100 Bronze award trainees. This morning, in rather milky spring sunshine they were having a go at route planning, tent erection and also camp cookery no doubt. Soon they'll be out in the Wiltshire and Hampshire countryside on practice walks and navigation training and, with a following wind and a pandemic under control then qualifying expeditions etc should follow.
Another sign that we are re-surfacing from the present trauma, and I am so glad that our youngsters should be able to resume doing such things - building friendships, learning skills, learning to lead and finding out what to do when things go wrong. All this is absolutely essential to the learning experience that we try to provide in school, and so much of it has had to be put on hold.
Of course fieldwork has largely gone the same way and, as I cast envious eyes towards Iceland I cannot wait for that aspect of Geology to return too. On the Reykjanes Peninsula, to the SW of Reykyavik a 500m long fissure has opened and basaltic lava is fountaining out day and night.
The eruption, at Fagradalsfjalli, is only 5km up the road from the fishing village of Grindavik where we habitually have a fish and chip supper when in country. Apparently the local residents are 'walking around like zombies' because their sleep has been interrupted; there have been 40,000 earth tremors in the last couple of months as a magma chamber over 1km deep shifts uneasily beneath their feet. in typically stoic fashion the Icelanders have set up a webcam with HD film - you can access the real time footage via the @BWSGeology twitter feed. Have a look - it's a stunning sight. Maybe - just maybe - we'll be able to get there post-Covid to see a real eruption in progress...