I’d say it’s that time of year again but as long as I’ve been in the club (5 and a half years – bloody hell!) I’ve never noticed a life members newsletter. I was even Chairman for a year and wrote one though alas it was never published (on the basis that it didn’t have anything about Morocco in it). It’s a little hard to write without a precedent and I’d like it if our legions of silent readers were a little less… silent? I’m conscious that my time left with the club will become much more limited from this summer onwards and I want to make it easier for whomever takes on the role next.

So what has been going on? Well to put it simply: Caving!

The first half of the year is always focused on one thing, freshers. As we have our next generation of leaders coming through, trips have been less frequent than in the past. That hasn’t stopped the flurry of trips to P8, the best bit about this is Tank Gravell – an aptly named fresher, being taken through the intestines (part of the cave I might add). I was disappointed not to find a trip report on the subject but he did make up for it with this little gem ( I won’t give anything away). All I can say is he is an entertaining man – he should definitely write more!

I should deprecate myself before spewing forth more slander. I forgot how inappropriate it is to effectively flash freshers. It was at our now annual TSG weekend in September where we take many freshers as we can handle on a nice round trip (Peak>Surprise View>Buxton Water>A couple of Sumps>Galaena Chamber>Surprise View>Peak). In my defence, it was changing post trip at the TSG, and the many years of the bitter Yorkshire/Derbyshire cold has instilled in me a certain urgency. My hands did cover the essentials (I am male, incidentally) although according to one fresher it was because I had little to hide – all I can say is big hands.

With that vulgarity out of the way I can go onto something much more impressive; Speleology! A certain Mr Will Whalley has been continuing his studies into Arachnospeleogy, with a published article on the distribution of Meta Menardi (and lack of other sp.) in Stoney Middleton in the British Arachnology Society Newsletter. There’s more spider stuff on the way too… He’s also digging in Stoney, in a ‘dig’ that has been in the club for a while – if two trips a year count! He’s not the only one interested in digging (and Arachnospeleogy) Jack Dewison has taken an unhealthy interest in P8 and may be moved to the shovel before long. Tommy Moore is digging with Will, and has also been indulging my flights of fancy with his ideas about the SUSS Speleodrone – or Pegasuss as it will be called.

That last point is something that has been an interesting thread of conversation in the pub, namely using infra red to determine thermal sinks from the air – bypassing the foliage. Other favoured topics in the pub have been Digging endoscopes, CRoW referendum and probably lamps – it’s a staple surely? A few years ago we had a lull in recruiting and retaining freshers, which has now passed through the club to create a dearth of leaders. I should point out that this was corrected by Sam Goodyear (though Dave Cattell and I like to claim credit too) and his impressive efforts a few years ago which has lead to our mass of trainees; Jethro, Rachael, Gamble, Mark, Helen etc. I’ve almost definitely left some people out there but what good’s a newsletter if it doesn’t cause a little bit of controversy.

We have a nice little tradition going whereby we invade what is commonly known as the SUSSplex (due its screens and comfortable seating) and we watch a film and have a curry on a Sunday – it’s certainly not aided my ‘who ate all the Bhaji’s’ issue. It is so named in part due to the contrast with the SUSS hut (not our beloved abandoned box up in Yorkshire (nor Derbyshire for that matter) which has inferior screenage and uncomfortable seating thanks to Jethro. It does serve as a good equipment store, and inappropriate returning of kit led to a humouress if vulgar set of GPGs being drawn up.

I could have given you a list of trips done (if we kept one…) or a list of weekends – Hidden Earth, Our training ‘week’, Fresher’s Fayre (turns out the BCA artificial cave does not entice people into caving…), Fresher’s Dales in Yorkshire which you can read about here or here, spoiling GUPA’s Halloween Weekend (an annual tradition now), CHECC in South Wales, and Yorkshire for Christmas – plus a few other weekends, notably the party with the Buttered Badgers that most of us failed to turn up to. So I hope you’ve enjoyed this newsletter, I hope my crimes against Grammar were not too heinous and let me know if the trying to make it about the lifestyle of student caving was irksome or not and thank you for reading.

Life members secretary,
Rostam Namaghi

PS As a desperate plea, we’d like to get everyone’s email addresses/preferred method of contact and there are many not on this list, could you tell people to get in touch via the secretary Tom Gamble. His (and my) contact details can be found here.