A day in the life of an archives assistant

I got up at 7.30 and let my whippet out. I washed, and dressed in cord trousers, a long sleeved t-shirt and a silk shirt. I had muesli, yoghurt, orange juice and toast for my breakfast.

I set off for work at 8.30, and drove my Peugeot 106 car from Builth Wells to Llandrindod Wells, taking Linda, the whippet, with me. She stays in the car while I am at work, wrapped in a duvet, as she feels safer covered up! It was a cool, but fine morning. There was a thin sheet of ice on the windscreen, so there must have been a slight frost in the night. The sun was out, and it was a perfect autumn day - with a hint of coolness in the breeze.

Linda the whippet
The Gwalia
The Gwalia, Llandrindod Wells

I work for Powys County Council in the Modern Records section of Archives. We store the non-current records of the County Council, and we are based in the Gwalia in Ithon Road.

We have outstores in Southfields House and the old Direct Services Organisation yard; both of which are near County Hall in Llandrindod Wells. There are three of us working in Modern records, the Manager, Gwen and I (both Archive Assistants). The public does not have direct access to the records we store here, so we store and retrieve them only for fellow officers of the County Council.

The Archive section, where the older and more interesting documents are kept in air-conditioned strong rooms, is near County Hall. The public are allowed to go to the search room there and look at documents, and microfilm of parish records, etc. Most of these people are researching their family or house history. There is a Manager there, an Assistant Archivist, and the Archives Assistant in the search room. Once a week either Gwen or I go to spend a day in the Archive building, helping with enquiries, in the search room or cataloguing.

In the morning we carried out our routine tasks of typing in details of new consignments of files to the computer, searching the database for file requests and then getting the files from their respective locations and sending them via internal mail, or hand delivering them, to the people who asked for them. We had a cup of coffee at about 11.00 am.

At 12.30, I took Linda for a walk and then went to the Aspidistra Café to meet my friend Jenny for lunch. On the way I stopped at the health food shop to buy Rooibosch tea. This is organically grown, and has no caffeine in it. It is not very nice, but apparently has many health giving properties. I had a baked potato with tuna mayonnaise and a side salad, and Jenny had a tuna mayonnaise and salad sandwich, made with brown bread. We both drank tea. I had a larger lunch than usual, as I was going to a meeting in the evening, and would not have time to cook supper. On the way back, I called at Somerfield, a supermarket, to buy cream cheese and sour cream for a cheese cake which I am going to make.

Transfer boxes
Transfer boxes

In the afternoon, Gwen & I had to go to one of the outstores at County Hall, which is about ½ a mile away. We walked, as we both love walking. When we came back, we had a cup of tea and some fruit. We carried on working until just after 5.00 pm, when I drove home via Newbridge-on-Wye, to drop Gwen off. I parked on the Gro in Builth, and took Linda for a walk along the river bank, round the Bowling Club and back. I went home and fed Linda. At 7.00 pm, I left and walked to the Wyeside Arts Centre for a meeting of the Board. I met my sister, Charlotte, who was working as a Volunteer for the Cinema, tearing tickets and selling ice cream. She then watched the film, which was 'The Guru', which stars Jimmy Mistry, who is the son-in-law of Penny & Andrew Leonard, friends of Charlotte's, who live near Brecon. At the Board meeting, I was elected to the post of Vice Chair. After the meeting, I had a drink of red wine at the bar, and waited for Charlotte to come out of the film. We had a chat, and she gave me a lift home; she lives at Abersefin, Penpont, but comes to volunteer at Wyeside, because she - like me - loves the place. It consists of a cinema, bar & foyer, gallery and a theatre for live shows, which is in the old market hall. It is right beside the Wye, and sometimes the theatre floods, which adds a bit of excitement to live shows!

When I got home, I had another glass of wine and a cheese and salad sandwich. I also made a sandwich for my lunch tomorrow. Then I did some ironing and watched television. A friend 'phoned for a chat. After a cup of tea and some chocolate, I went to bed about 12.30 am. During the day and evening, I had smoked about 10 cigarettes, which I roll myself, using Old Holborn tobacco. This is not good for my health, but I seem unable to give up.