25 Aug – Dog Days of Summer?

I mused today on the origins of the Dog Days – only to conclude that this Saturday wasn’t one of them!  Or at least it didn’t fit the description of a hot lazy day in mid-summer.  In fact, first thing it was rather cool (9C by my car thermometer at 0745) and a quiet first half an hour allowed me to amble down to our Hunting Butts sidings/storage area.  Although it’s not exactly Barry Island there is something atmospheric about old rolling stock – a bit dog-eared and decaying ever so slowly but still majestic in scale. IMG_20180825_084908

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Anyway, more prosaically, the volunteers were out in force by 0900 and I observed Dave T and Mary, Dave G, Andy M, Terry, Mike, Maurice, Ben, Bob & Ros, Steve, John and Colin – pretty much a full pack!

Today was also a red letter day in that B&S (now called something else which I haven’t caught up with) arrived plus truck to take away some of our detritus: most notably the old fence posts for Platform 1 bank and the associated wire.

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Very well done gents – that’s tidied the dog’s breakfast up a bit.

They did also deliver a dozen Heras fence panels – for various purposes around the Station – so we were kept busy assisting and putting away (neatly).

Elsewhere, Mary, Colin and John gardened on P1 whilst Bob and Ros did similar on P2.  Steve and Bob were seen strimming, Dave G fettled the (new) gate to the car park, Dave T considered the design for a new canopy for the gents loo, Andy raked pine straw, Terry scraped paint off the hut, Ben moved stuff around as general dogsbody, Mike swept up and most importantly made the refreshments.   Dogged determination all round.

All was well at CRCS and from reading The Cornishman the railway as a whole continues to prosper.  I note from the latter publication that Broadway Station is to benefit from ‘footbridge steps and canopies’ so that the station will be ‘more aesthetically pleasing’.  Can’t be long before Cheltenham Racecourse Station gets the same treatment then – since, presumably, every dog has its day!?

Yours dog-tired and in the dog house,

Tim

18 Aug – Pine Nuts!

It is of course a feature of Cheltenham Racecourse Station that we have pine trees on the slopes of the cutting in which the track bed lies.  These are generally appreciated and (native species or not) lend a certain character to the place.   We would be sad to lose them and, as alluded to in previous blogs, the reduction in many overhanging branches and removal of some of the more vulnerable trees – for all our safeties –  will make a difference to the appearance of some parts of the Station.  However, I am assured that the process will be carefully managed.IMG_20180818_114214IMG_20180818_122816

Two views of the Evesham Road bridge as it is now and as it was when the Station was under construction:screen-shot-2016-10-17-at-14-55-51

The volunteers often joke that the pines are not universally popular for various reasons – but mainly because they distribute copies quantities of pine needles and pine cones across track, platforms and all the surrounding areas.  Normally, this is most noticeable in autumn and winter but this year we are being treated to an early deluge – probably due to the low rainfall levels. Here’s Andy in the middle of stint of raking and barrowing yet another load of pine presents off the track side and onto our bonfire site:IMG_20180818_114208

And here’s another hero of the hour:IMG_20180818_093337

I am not much of gadget man normally but Billy is invaluable and allows one man (me this morning) to sweep both platforms in roughly an hour – whereas it would probably take 6 volunteers the same length of time to do half as much – if you could find 6 willing to do so!  Thirsty work for man and machine!

Apart from making the place look untidy the pine debris is a fire hazard on the track running steam engines and, since the system by which rail and sleepers are connected contains a small plastic element, such conflagrations are not a good idea!  However, more promisingly the ban on bonfires has now been relaxed so that Bob and Ros could reduced our pile of debris to ashes earlier in the week:IMG_20180818_084227

Apparently the flames could be seen in Bishops’s Cleeve! (NB Gloucs Fire Service were informed and content).

Meanwhile, Steve, Colin, Andy, Bob, Terry, John, Ros, Mike and Dave G were busy about their tasks.  There was much strimming on the Platform 2 bank, some gardening on both sides plus other general maintenance tasks.  As per blogs passim it seems that this time of year we are keeping our estate in check and our (large numbers of !) passengers content – or I certainly hope so.

Regards,

Tim

11 Aug – Who stole the wheelbarrow?

There I was being helpful and responding to the email direction that someone needed to help Bob remove some fencing wire from the Platform 2 embankment.  So, diligently, I got a wheelbarrow plus some tools and beetled off with Bob to assist.  We spent and adventurous 20 minutes or so, scratched by brambles, torn by barbed wire and stung by wasps – but manfully transferred all the debris from bank to (unused) platform.  To save time and effort I thought I’d pop back and get my wheelbarrow to transport things back to bonfire and rubbish pile.  And there the wheelbarrow was, gone! Stolen by one of my co-workers and full of plant trimmings.

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The guilty party!  (Just joking Ros!)

Helpfully, she suggested I could take it away (temporarily, of course) and why didn’t I dispose of the trimmings on the bonfire as well! It just goes to show that you can’t leave anything lying around at Racecourse Station – otherwise somebody borrows it!

Meanwhile, a whole team of volunteers pitched up to assist this morning including: Dave G, Mike, Steve, Bob, Terry, Colin, Ros, Maurice and 2 x Andys, plus other from the railway generally (carrying out track maintenance).  I didn’t catalogue everyone’s activities but the platforms were swept, the gardens maintained on both platforms and various other minor tasks accomplished.

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All very necessary since we seem to be on almost maximum passenger loading with yet another special weekend (colloquially known as ‘rail and ale’ – see the sign on 2L05 above).  They were streaming in early (357 pax on yesterday’s first train out) and I don’t know what it’s like at the far end of the line but it is certainly busy this end.  We live in hope of the some of the revenue generated being spent on the Racecourse Station.

All of which means that most of our time is spent coping with the day-to-day and, in terms of progressing our projects, we are less active – things are beginning to wait for the ‘close season’.  However, our resident shed ‘ead, Bill has finished the door hanging and it now intent on fitting a mini-skirt (is the shed female – or perhaps it doesn’t matter these days?) of new corrugated sheet to back up the current, rather rusty, bottom 6″.

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In parallel there is the considerable task of removing all the existing layers of paint and starting again from scratch – see you sometime around Christmas!

Regards,

Tim

 

 

 

 

 

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Fettler

This was my first Monday visit to CR Station and there was a fair turnout of the Monday Gang, although many were well hidden, wisely seeking shade from the hot afternoon sun!

For my task, no shelter was available at the end of platform 2, where the line side hut is getting its finally adjustments to the basic structure, before painting can begin. I have to say after a couple of hours the  heat started to make me a bit gaga, as the selfie will confirm. Nevertheless its looking good now  and the cosmetic work can commence.