Mince pie diving in the time of Covid

Like most diving arrangements this year our Annual Mince Pie Dive Day on December 18th hung in the balance until the preceding few days. However the Covid regulations in force on the day worked in our favour. Stoney was in Tier 3, we were in Tier 3, and we didn’t even have to pass through any lower Tiers to get there; plus the “Rule of 6” did not apply to us as our event came under the banner of an Outdoor Sports Gathering. I realise all this Tier Talk will seem like Gobbledegook to anyone reading this in years to come. Reading this in years to come??? Who do I think I am? Rudyard Kipling? Ah yes, Kipling. Back to the Mince Pies…

Underwater Christmas treeWe were 10 divers this year which divided neatly into 5 buddy pairs: Sophie and Chris Hastie; Paul Nash and Simon Steed; Alastair Manning and Simon Gurney; Chris Bradbury and Chris Butterfield; Antonia and me (Sally). Between us we scatter bombed the quarry, taking in various exhibits. There was the customary submerged Christmas tree on the 6m shelf, complete with baubles and lights but no underwater music this year1. Presumably due to the ban on outdoor performances! Just kidding. The water temperature was 9°C and the visibility was variable but on the whole very good compared to earlier visits. I don’t think anyone saw any Pike or Carp2 but several shoals of tiny fish glinted eerily in the torchlight, so pike would be nearby. One unexpected issue was the very low water level, which made getting out of the water very difficult, especially for a weedy short arse like me. Had someone pulled the plug out? The reason for this was that they were pumping water out of the quarry in order to access and repair a retaining wall that was being pushed inwards by tree roots. Once the work has been done the quarry, being spring fed should presumably soon fill up.

After the first dive we set to work eating the festive fodder that we had brought. As well as the eponymous mince pies, other tasty Christmas comestibles, both savoury and sweet were shared and enjoyed, including Pigs in Blankets, shortbread, Simon G’s chocolate “salami” etc. Whilst Nemo’s itself was closed, hot drinks (and food) were available from the hatch. Naturally, we observed the guidance on social distancing, everyone being well used by now to guestimating the appropriate spacing. Luckily by dint of strategically placing camping chairs in car spaces as we arrived, we had managed to park in a line next to each other. This made it easier for us to keep our group together whilst maintaining the correct distance between us. There was nothing to be gained by splitting our cars up in the car park only to find that we would each have to socially distance from a complete stranger who happened to park next to us!

The diversChris Bradbury took the traditional Group Photo and using the miracles of photo manipulation managed to appear in it himself. Most of us went in for a second dive, after which we remained resolutely perky enough to enjoy more food, warm drinks and perhaps the odd nip of something uplifting in the car park before calling it a day, the warm fire of Nemo’s being but a distant memory. I realise that this is probably why we had no “supporters” this year. Usually a handful of members come along, not to dive, but just to share the ambience and cheer us on, or so I thought. I now see that the real reason they come is to spend a winter’s afternoon in the pub, or am I being cruel?

Happily the weather conditions were better than last year when we experienced rain of biblical proportions. This year it was just drizzly and overcast. However, I see a pattern forming. Last year floods, this year pestilence. Will it be fire or famine next year? Gawd ‘elp us! Anyway, my thanks to all who took part and made it an enjoyable day. In the absence of the pool and the Football Club it was great to see so many of you again and it rounded off the Club’s diving year very well.

  1. Oh yes there was, you should have read the instructions! Shine your torch up an old scaffolding tube to start it—Ed. []
  2. I did?—Ed. []

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