The day started with a familiar shaggy dog story, which as you now know ends in the 'multi story carp ark' .
While waiting for the tea to be poured in the background. Peter, Rick and Martin listen spellbound as John works his way towards the distant punch line.
Having been to a recent Rail Live event at Long Marston recently, Jonathan came back with a bag full of goodies. To be fair to us all, he decided to raffle them off to those attending this morning, so we all drew a number to see what we got.
Hence we loaded up the heavy generator on to the back of the Landie and headed half a mile north.
We waited for the first train of the day to pass, then cut off the nut, which had seized with the bolt loose. Another one, like last week. Strange.
At Gotherington Manor Lane we were all raring to go, but first to understand the hieroglyphics of the track walker's spreadsheet. Hmmmmm.
Here's a nice shot of Dinmore about to enter the curve leading to Gotherington loop. We learned that this loco was running this week as it had a better ash pan, thus limiting the risk of lineside fires.
The passing shot, as the loco runs over Manor Lane underbridge. No bridge strikes here!
Isn't that a beautiful hill in the background? One of the typical features of the Vale of Evesham, once the bed of the meandering river Severn over the centuries.
Earlier, on Monday:
After last week's fishplate greasing session with 4 gangers, we put out a desperate appeal for one more ganger, please, all you have to do is put your boot on the other end of the bolt the man on the machine is trying to do up.
We did get a result to this appeal, but not the one expected: one fewer !
We're now out of Chicken Curve (lovely, with its 120ft lengths) and well down the long Defford straight. Annoyingly, this was laid with short 45ft lengths, thereby multiplying the number of joints we had to handle. We set ourselves a lunch time target of reaching a tree with a nice shady place under which to have our lunch.
To our amazement we were suddenly the witnesses of nature's hunting party, to wit a little stoat after a large rabbit. The stoat followed the rabbit 5 yards behind along the other side of the track, the rabbit crossed over and ran back towards us. It vanished in the long grass; the stoat carried on running towards us when it suddenly realised we were there. It reared up, looked at us in astonishment, and it was gone. The rabbit escaped.
An internet search afterwards taught us that stoats do chase rabbits, and that the tactic is to tire them out, whereupon they jump on the back and bite it through the neck to kill it. The big lump - 4 times the size of the stoat, is then dragged back, bit by bit, to the stoat's nest. Check it out on YouTube, there are several examples of what we saw.
We had never witnessed the like of it before, until at Manor Lane 2 days later, we saw part of the chase again! It must then be quite a common occurrence. Not enough to influence the rabbit population hereabouts, there are millions of them.
While working along the track, we come across remnants of toilet paper 'flushed' down the carriage toilets.
We don't really have an issue with that. The remnants soon disappear, see bottom left of this photograph. The wet toilet paper hits the ballast at speed and pretty much disintegrates. Paper is also a natural product, so it soon bio-degrades.
So please don't flush wet wipes down the toilet, not at home (where they cause the fat balls that we have seen in the press) and not on our railway either. They are indestructible. Better use a paper Kleenex tissue, if you must. They are not good at all for the environment, they are a 'single use plastic' and we would rather not find them on our track.
Rant over, a quick snapshot at Broadway.
The good income generated by the opening of the Broadway extension is going to be spent, inter alia, on bridge protection beams here. We would rather spend this money on new loco messing facilities, or a carriage shed, or the completion of platform 2 at Broadway. But if someone gives our bridge a really hard whack, and they have done several times in the pass, we could end up with suspended services until the damage has been formally assessed. So bridge protection beams are an investment.
The good news is that the process for erecting the protective beams has started, and we see here a team surveying the area for that purpose. Meanwhile, another articulated lorry speeds on through.
We will resume progress on fishplate greasing next Monday, so do try to help. We are aiming for Toddington, and will get there, by hook or by crook.