“We only went out for exercise, shopping and essential work. ‘You’re on mute’ became an everyday refrain.”

James Thorne reflects on 2020

At the beginning of the year the focus was on Brexit. Little did we know that soon Brexit would be all but forgotten with the arrival of a new virus, SARS-CoV-2 (AKA “Coronavirus”), and its associated disease, COVID-19.

At the 2020 Croydon CC AGM, “coronavirus” was just starting to become part of our vocabulary. The UK and Italy had both confirmed their first cases on January 31st and Italy’s case numbers were beginning to sky-rocket. We did not know at the time that it was the last time members of the club would be gathering together in such a way. On 23rd March, the government announced “lockdown”: another word entered our everyday language.

At the drop of a hat everything stopped. We were confined to our homes, workplaces were closed, millions of workers were put on furlough. We only went out for exercise, shopping and essential work. “You’re on mute” became an everyday refrain.

Humans have been such a successful species, depending on your definition of successful, because we can adapt quickly. Humans have adapted to the restrictions imposed on us. Our lives moved almost entirely online overnight: work, social, everything. Croydon Caving Club was no different. To stay in touch, the club held 14 Zoom quizzes throughout 2020. Members took turns to host the quizzes. At Halloween and Christmas, members put in extra effort by getting into the spirit of the occasion. Thank you to everyone who made the quizzes possible and congratulations to the winners!

Sadly, we lost a former member and treasurer, Richard Vidler, in July. Richard died suddenly while he was on a family day out. Our thoughts are with Richard and his family.

So, despite a mostly online 2020, I am pleased to welcome you to a Pelobates Covid Special that still manages to have a distinct underground flavour, featuring Ogof Cull, North Wales slate mines and Forest of Dean railway tunnels. You can also look forward to a new design of shower, the cottage report and a stream of consciousness from our illustrious chairman.

My thanks go to all those who have contributed to this edition. I hope you enjoy the magazine as much as I have enjoyed putting it together.

Members enjoyed online quizzes throughout 2020, including fancy dress at Halloween and Christmas


In early October, just before North Wales locked down, a small group of CCC members stayed in North Wales for a week. We visited a number of cool mines such as Cwmorthin, Maenofferen and Llanberis slate quarry. There was Neil, Pete, Siriol, Chris, Eddie Webb and myself in the group. As Eddie lives near Llanberis slate quarry he knows it really well and gave us a guided tour (photos: Annette Price)

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James Thorne