Day 138: Hurrah! Time for our sand conversation!

It’s probably a good day for the sand to arrive and the floor screeded so it can set over the weekend. Reporter Katriona Ormiston from the Oxford Mail has turned up just in time to get a quick look inside the centre, but we were given two minutes only for a quick tour before the screeding machine started up, the sand, cement mixture and water fed in and mixed and the hosepipe carrying it down to the kitchen area started writhing about on the ground.  I’m actually quite glad Gordon insisted we were out before it started up, because I can see it would be a bit dangerous to get in its way.


Katriona had the chance to get an interview with Gordon outside, though.  You can read about it in the Mail next week.




Day 137: Still uncovering the past

Unfortunately, we still can’t have that cheery conversation about the sand, so meanwhile work goes on outside, where Graham has been uncovering more of Dean Court’s past:

Graham, Gordon

and Nick gets rid of the covering layers:


And this won’t give you much of an idea, but I hesitated to ask for a scrubbing brush to get a better view of what has been uncovered:


These are blue, grey and black vinyl or lino tiles that were part of a previous building.  For the past decades they have been covered with tarmac, and it would be good to have an idea of the building that was here.

If you know, or remember the previous structure, or have any old photographs we might copy and return to you  (I am presuming it was an earlier social club building) please get in touch.  It is, after all, part of all our history and we’d love to have a fuller picture of the old Dean Court.

Day 136: Something to talk about


This forlorn green tarpaulin is awaiting a new pile of sand, and I hope it arrives soon so that I will have a cheery remark with which to start my conversation of a morning.  Then Gordon will be able to respond with a cheery remark of his own and we’ll get a jolly conversation going.

But meanwhile, have a closer look at what’s happening outside the front of the building:


The moat is temporarily boarded over (that will flummox the marauders) and this will be the ramp up to the front door.  The door to the children’s room (further back) won’t need a long ramp as the ground is higher there.

Soon, we can be fine-tuning where to place our planters.  Then we can get Ian, Katie and Sam back to build some more . . .

Day 135: It’s hard keeping everyone happy!

Graham is a bit worried that I didn’t take enough pictures of the Cluttons’ team at work, so here are some more.  Those nicely beveled corners were done by me.  Ian is a bit more generous at letting me help out on site than Gordon is.



DSC00009 crop


Nick, though, is a bit worried that the G-Team isn’t fulfilling its social responsibilities, and suggests that they might spend a day down at Cluttons, helping out on their computers.  I think they’d be better employed helping out in my garden, but I don’t think either he or Graham were serious.

Anyway, they won’t have time.  At the moment the team are planning their Christmas calendar. and it’s going to take ages to round up a volunteer for each month and to find Graham a genuine ten-gallon hat.

Day 134: Cluttons’ Dean Court Day of Action

I love the idea of a CSR Day.  It stands for Corporate Social Responsibility, and it is on such days that employees of an up-market firm like Cluttons come down and get their hands dirty mucking in doing voluntary work on community projects like ours.

So while the G-Men are in the office sipping the Monday morning Pimms, Katie, Ian and Sam are outside constructing planters from roofing timbers saved from the old building:


Inside, the new unisex loos are getting their first coat of paint:


While Matt, James and Ed work on the new youth room in the west wing.


Paint, rollers and brushes have all been donated by Homebase, and we have to thank Gordon for saving the remaining roof timbers.   So in a way, it’s pretty much a day of high achievement and low spending all round.  My favourite sort of day, in fact.  I made up the bit about the Pimms, but you will know about my endless search for a good story by now . . .

Day 133: Things that go below the surface


The next time you see this pile of sand (except that you won’t really see it), It will be part of the screed that goes over the bituminous damp-proofing and levels the floor of the building.

And this is a piece of history making a fleeting appearance to remind us of the first residents of Dean Court:


I suspect these could be the footings of the very first Dean Court Social Club: a wooden building* constructed and run by those first residents in the 1950s.  It was a fantastic achievement and it must have been with very mixed feelings that they saw it demolished a decade or so later in favour of the new council-funded building.  Along with the old social club, perhaps something of the heart of that first can-do community died.

I hope those of them still here will embrace the new Community Centre and take it to their hearts.  Without wishing to sound either sentimental or philosophical, it seems that we are all just a tiny part of that great tapestry of human life that happened to land us here in Dean Court in this very moment.

If you remember the first social club, please get in touch and tell us about it. We are all part of the here and now and if we throw out all of our history we will all be very much the poorer.

*My neighbour Arthur tells me that the very first Social Club building was a Nissen hut.  If you want to know a bit about Nissen huts, there is an excellent brief history here:

Day 132: I think I’ll sit this one out . . .

DSC00002No dancing yet, I think.  But with a mind to frivolity, I should tell you that the barbecue was rather good.  Despite Adrian’s misgivings about the heat provided by the pallets, we got a great fire going and if anyone has any pictures to share (Anna?  Emma?) you may be able to see that I could have waited a bit longer before putting the first lot of sausages on.  But, never having been noted for patience, and worried that the heat wouldn’t last, I jumped the gun a bit and some got a little charred.  Daisy Dog was perfectly happy with them next day though.

If anyone would still like any pallets, get in touch.  We didn’t use them all and there are still a couple of good ones available.

Day 131: Shall we dance?


Well, not just yet, perhaps.  The floor will soon be completely covered in the black bituminous damp-proofing layer, then screeded with concrete.  Until the semi-sprung wooden floor goes down, I think I’d put the dance moves on hold.

Neither would a trip to the loo be that easy:

Corridor manhole

All in all, I think it might be better to wait for a bit longer before tripping the light fantastic.

But if you fancy booking the centre for a dance or exercise class – or anything else for which you might have plans – then get in touch soon!

Day 129: Call this a moat?

As moats go, it’s pretty inconsequential.  Personally, I think it was just a matter of Graham showing off his digging-in-a-straight-line skills.  But any marauder worthy of the name wouldn’t even need a horse to jump it.  I can do it myself and my marauding skills are rubbish.


And call this a drawbridge?  It doesn’t even lead to the front door:


At a rough guess, I’d say someone was having a laugh.