James and Rig Astley – Together Forever

3rd August 2021

Geotechnical • News

The last time Ground & Water’s James Gould had to write a blog he was in a different role within the company. A technician at the time, it was a role he absolutely loved. Free to use his initiative, plan his days and take on an endless variety of daily challenges, James isn’t afraid to say “it was bliss”. But a new chapter in his career in the ground and contaminated land investigation industry has now begun. James takes up the story…

After a couple of years as a technician, as much as I loved the role, I’d reached a ceiling. The idea of becoming a driller was always a whisper in the distance, even from my first interview. As a technician, I worked on a daily basis with dynamic sampling and probing contractors and their drilling rigs. It wasn’t until we bought our very own Dando Terrier site investigation drilling rig (later dubbed Rig Astley, because he’ll never let you down) that I realised, becoming a driller was going to be my imminent reality!

I was over the moon when I found out that I would be shadowing the drilling wizard himself Mr. Tim Knight. A man of the earth, his thick hands and deep brow wrinkles are forged from decades upon decades of soil sampling. What a perfect person to learn from. I assumed this would be a piece of sandy gravelly cake, right? So when I asked Tim on our first day: “how long do you think it will take me to learn everything?” and his answer was: “I’m still learning”,  I realised immediately that I was going to have to use my brain every day in this role.

I had seen the rig in action many times and thought I knew the basics already. Boy was I wrong. I soon felt like a new born calf taking its first tentative steps. I felt like after a couple of years in the industry I was right back to my first day.

Like his namesake, Rig Astley is loud, so I soon became an expert in sign language. I had to wait for a point of a finger or reassuring nod before I commenced moving, unscrewing and lever pulling. I felt like my brain had refused and I wondered if it would ever make depth.

After a few weeks, things started to really come together and we became a well-oiled rig, moving like I was an extension of the machinery, flowing without the need to communicate. I could do this!

My first three-day weekend confirmed I had made a wise choice moving on from technician. Cramming in 40 hours over four days, was definitely something I had to get use to; but when you get a bank holiday weekend every week, you sure do feel recharged when you come back in on Monday.

Tim finally sailed off into the sunset and was replaced with the young whippersnapper Nathan, as my second man. After a couple of days on site he was up to my standard. A youthful mind is truly an amazing thing. I would like to thank Tim for his help, guidance and wisdom. It was an honour working with you, sir.

Now Ground & Water has in-house drilling, probing and dynamic sampling capability, it enables us to be far more reactive and flexible, in terms of when and where we can undertake site investigations. This means our clients can look forward to receiving the all-important site investigation report and conclusions much quicker than was previously the case. A vital step on the road to project approval and getting the clients out of the ground and building.

Latest Blogs

At Ground & Water we like the bigger picture. Our regularly updated blog highlights and discusses the industry’s challenges and issues. It provides you with insights into innovation, how we are constantly changing and adapting to provide you class leading, cost effective, services and how through investing in our team, we are delivering on our promises. And it’s a great read!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This