Then Alan in the telehandler started on the long job of transporting the sleepers in batches of 4 or 8 (and annoyingly, sometimes in odd numbers, which throws out the placement jig we use - must try harder, Alan).
It required a lot of skill to remove the top layer, as visibility of what the forks are doing is pretty minimal on the highest layer. Alan did well however, and soon had us buzzing down at the working end.
It felt like quite a milepost to start on the curve, after the long Laverton straight. At the other end of the curve, behind the camera here, is Little Buckland bridge and the target of the first track relaying phase. Here, it is still out of sight to the team.
|Riders galloping across the fields in the distance|
After a pause, the hunt resumed. Two quad bikes raced along the hedge up to the railway embankment, and without slowing down turned sharp right along the railway, so much so, that one went along on two wheels. Our jaws slackened...
One quad bike then stopped to release a huge bird of prey. The wing span was as wide as its handler was tall, it seemed to us that this must be an eagle, as it was much bigger than a falcon.
The bird was released and flew off after the fox, which it duly found and despatched.
By this time all relaying work had ceased, as we watched the events unroll before us.
To your blogger, there was a certain sense of pride and history - this is the countryside, and these are our neighbours. It is a centuries old tradition, and we were somewhat priveleged to have a grandstand seat to watch it all.
We resumed our own activities, that of laying track, but it seemed rather more banal after such excitement.
There was some hilarity as Steve felt the need to air his stockinged foot outside the cab, with much coughing and holding of noses amongst the gang.
In fact poor Steve had sprained it a few days earlier, and we can be grateful that he came nonetheless to play this key role in the JCB during our sleeper laying day.
More hilarity ensued when Jim came up to 'give him a hand', which Steve turned down as he hadn't asked for a whole arm. (shades of Hancock's 'Blood Donor' here)
Finding no takers for his arm in the JCB, Jim stuck it on a pin to point us the way to Broadway.
Very useful, thank you Jim ! No 'arm in that, we suppose (and believe me, many more puns followed in that genre all afternoon)
In this picture, the last load is just arriving. The mid point of the excercise today was a little this side of the trackside tree on the right, in the background. How far away it now seems.
This was a most successful day, and we left for home with a great feeling of satisfaction and much achieved.