Sunday, 4 April 2010

Now I can tell you the whole story - Part II


Photo: View over Vindolanda from Barcombe Hill. You can see the new pathway...looks like a "Y" stretching up from the Chineley Burn towards the replicas of the Wall and to the fort. (Photo taken very recently by fellow volunteer:L.B.)

I told you last year about how I got onto the Hadrian's Wall Heritage Ltd. Volunteer Guiding Course. (Read about it again here.) Just to give you a quick recap: I applied for the course...failed to get on it. Tagged along anyway and then got on it. Yeah! It involved a lot of lectures, site visits, reading, studying, biting of finger nails to the quik, projects, presentations, "reccie"ing of sites (reconnaisance visits), two exams - one theory and one practical. The theory one was a bit of a doddle in the end. The practical one was the clincher. We, all twenty of us (approx), were studying to become Yellow Badge Guides - Affiliate Level - in The Institute of Tourist Guiding. I haven't told you, as yet, about the practical exam. But now I will...

One batch of us were doing the Eastern sites on Hadrian's Wall - Wallsend Fort, Segedunum and South Shields Fort, Arbeia. Another batch of us (me included) were studying Vindolanda Fort and The Roman Army Musuem, the site of Carvoran Fort, in the Central section of Hadrian's Wall. The final bunch were covering the Western side - Senhouse Museum and Fort at Maryport and Hard Knott Fort in the Lake District. We only discovered late on in the course that we would only be examined at one of our two sites for the practical exam. On our cluster we would be examined on how good we were as guides at Vindolanda. (The Eastern Cluster would be at Segedunum whilst the Western Cluster would be at Senhouse Museum.) Overall we had to achieve a 60% pass rate.

Tom Keating and Jan Williams, both Blue Badge Tourist Guides, arranged (along with HWH Ltd.)for our course of study to take place after long consultation with The Institute of Tourist Guiding and administered it in a firm but fair way. This level two exam normally ends up with a certificate being issued but we were the first ones to get a proper yellow badge (if we passed the course). Again as negotiated by Tom and Jan. Good on them!

We started in April and finished at the beginning of July. Our practical exam at Vindolanda took place on a scorcher of a day - July 2nd. Our examiner was another Blue Badge Guide whom we'd not met before.

We all dressed smartly and sensibly as instructed. We couldn't wear hats (despite the sweltering sun) as the examiner would not be able to see our full faces. We all wore our Vindolanda Trust name badges. We (hopefully) had all the knowledge at our fingertips and bottles of water at the ready in our knapsacks in case we keeled over through dehydration. We were primed to be informative, humourous, concise and caring! ("Look out for those lumps and bumps!"...)

There we were all assembled in the atrium of the new visitor centre with the fountain tinkling merrily in the background whilst we tried not to listen to the pleasant ding-a-ling of the wind chimes and concentrate on what we had to do for the next two hours. We started bang on 10.30 am. The examiner (accompanied by a senior member of staff at Vindolanda) picked one of us out at random to start off and so away we went. It was amazing how much came out of our mouths/memories under ideal climactic conditions...

We tackled the introduction, then the Romano-Celtic temple, the water wells, the bath house, the C.O.'s house in the vicus/village (there's a story behind this), the butcher shop, the tree outside the fort (near the "pub"), the HQ or Principia (my turn!), the C.O.'s house in the main fort with the tale of the lost dog, the Northern Gate and latrine and roundhouses, then around to the S.W. area of the fort where the Vindolanda tablets were found. Up we went to the replicas of Hadrian's Wall, the interval turret and timber milecastle gateway, back down to the earlier bigger bath house (my turn again!), down the hill to the reconstructions of the Roman temple, shop, house and milestone. We [the temperature was now approaching Mediterranean levels] explained about the nearby replica lapidarium (altars and tombstone) across the Chineley Burn and the history of the museum. We then went inside the museum and pointed out the many delights of the smaller finds contained in various cases. How welcome was the shade and cooler air! Before we realised it our torture was nearly over. The tortuous tour was at an end.

The Blue Badge Guide and Senior Vindolanda Staffer went away to confer and compare notes. Ten minutes of suspense were terminated by wide smiles saying that the exam was finished and, most importantly, no-one had been asked to repeat any section. (We'd earlier been told that that was a good sign.) It began to sink in that nobody had failed... Thus, in time-honoured fashion, we went off to celebrate...waving at the newly unearthed altar dedicated to Jupiter Dolichenus along the way......

The results of our hard won endeavours are shown here in the following photos. (See if you can spot me!) Our yellow badges were formally presented to us last Wednesday night at Tullie House by Linda Tuttiett, Chief Executive, Hadrian's Wall Heritage Ltd. and Jan Williams, Blue Badge Guide. Our volunteer co-ordinator, Kerry Shaw, kicked off the proceedings with a slide show of photos taken of us over the course of the course (sotospeak) and handed over to Linda and Jan for their mini speeches. All in all it was a fab evening and such a joy to finally receive our badges at long last. We can now wear them with pride on our tours to be! If you are anywhere near Hadrian's Wall this Easter or Summer...come, see and hear us............! (Venite! Videte! Audite!)



18 comments:

A Woman Of No Importance said...

A veritable achievement = congrats HT, and so well done! Hope you love it! x

Clippy Mat said...

Congratulations! Macte virtute! that is an amazing amount of knowledge and you will be an amazing guide.
:-)

Dumdad said...

Hearty congrats! You worked hard for that badge and deserve to wear it with pride. I'll ask for you personally as a guide next time I'm at the Wall....

lakeviewer said...

Wow! What a grueling process for all of you. Glad you did, and lucky are the people who'll be participating and learning so much from these guides. How much latin did the other guides know?

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Thank you, AWONI! :)

CM..love the Latin. :)

DD: Thank you very muchly! Much appreciated. :)

Lakeviewer: I think I am the only one boring the pants off everyone with my Latin. I can't resist it. If anything it all means much more too me and makes more sense than when I did it at A-Level! :)

P.S.: It does help with inscriptions and it is enjoyable to try and unravel them...

Lots of smiles. You can see I am just chuffed to bits!

Hadriana's Treasures said...

"to me" (See above.)

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Absolutely incredible and thoroughly deserved. And that first photograph of the view is beautiful.

CJ xx

Mark said...

I was child in Newcastle when they started to excavate Vindolanda; your post brings back memories of school trips and days out with our neighbour who used to take us there in her Morris Minor Traveller.

French Fancy said...

Oh I am so proud of you. Any sort of test is nerve wracking and to have to do it outside on a boiling hot day - in front of other people (that would get me very nervous) - are extra pressures that are not really fair. But you did it and you got the badge to prove it.

Are you the guide in the brown trousers that is kneeling in the second group pic?

French Fancy said...

Cancel that - that must be you in the stripey jumper - I based it on hair colour really both times

Sandi McBride said...

Congrats my friend! I am so proud of you but not surprised by you...your intelligence shines thru with every word...hugs
Sandi

Hadriana's Treasures said...

CJ...That view is fantastic. Many thanks to my friend, Lynn, for providing that. I still would like to climb Barcombe Hill to see the Iron Age settlement, Roman signal tower, long stone and Roman quarries. Must get up there some time soon! Thank you for your super comments.

Mark: Your memories sound very beguiling...maybe you could write them up some time? I'd love to hear more...

FF: It was pretty nerve wracking (hot weather or no hot weather!). The lady in the pink top is one of my bosses, Kerry Shaw, Volunteer Co-ordinator at Hadrian's Wall Heritage Ltd. She does all the organisation behind the scenes for us volunteers...both the guides and the rangers on the National Trail (Hadrian's).

Thank you, Sandi! You are a star yourself!

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Congratulations Hadriana - all your hard work paid off. Enjoy the tours. A x

the fly in the web said...

Oh, well done!
Do you think it is more agonising when it is an exam in something about which you are passionate? It's not just about passing, it's about validating your passion, too.

A good guide is worth his or her weight in gold.

We went to a minor Mayan site in Honduras and I was lucky enough to have the curator take me round the museum...he really loved his site and its' history and we spent a fascinating two hours there.
I wish I had had him beside me at the better known site - Copan - which left me cold.
It didn't hurt that he was drop dead gorgeous and unaffectedly charming, mark you!

Lakeland Jo said...

Many congratulations X

Mickle in NZ said...

Super Well Done! Your hard work, determined study and absolute passion paid off. I hope you have a ball this coming Summer as you guide people around.

Sending admiration and huggles, Michelle xxx

(Zebbycat sends happy purrs from under his blanket)

Nota Bene said...

And when do you get a blue plaque?

Well done...

Hadriana's Treasures said...

SJA - Thank you SO much! I did enjoy the tours. Sorry..I know I have been neglecting the blog a bit as I'm trying to get loads of stuff done at the moment. I do enjoy blogging a lot but I know it can lead me astray!!!

Fly - I'm really glad you had a marvellous Mayan time. I'm jealous. Sounds absolutely fab (including your good guide/curator)!

Lakeland Jo - Lovely to hear from you. I was wondering where you have been? Glad you've dropped by to say hello and many thanks for the congrats.

Mickle and Zebbycats: I was "purrfect" guiding people around!

NB: Funny you should mention that as I put my application in yesterday to become a blue badge guide. Let's see whether I get called for interview...watch this space!