15 Feb 20 – Extra Help?

My first thought this morning was that it wasn’t worth it – going to the Station that is. However, I persisted and we did manage a decent burst of activity in adverse conditions.

Dave G and Dave T largely stayed in the staff room and ticket office, wisely confining themselves to indoor stuff.  Outside we were game for a bit more ‘of the physical’ so Steve, Andy M and I filled in a few areas of our pathwork. We removed the ‘sentry hut’ – which was now a bit low – and re-gravelled beneath. By this time the wind was gusting very strongly so we decided discretion was the best option and left it lying down for the moment.  Here’s a damp Steve at work:

20200215_1133585093453575631238773.jpg20200215_1133533938508444718396007.jpgOn the other side of the ramp we scraped out the old mud, weeds and self-sown plants so that we can replace with clean matching gravel in due course.20200215_1134056833686372510883168.jpg

And here’s our leader getting stuck in to the cobwebs!

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So where was the extra help? Self, Dave T, Dave G, Andy M, Steve and a new volunteer Dennis.  He came from the west apparently and hasn’t done much useful work – in fact he seemed to make matters worse as far as I could see.  Still, perhaps not as bad as his sister Ciara!  We shall see what Monday brings.

Regards,

Tim

12 Feb 20 – On Defence!

Just when I thought it was getting easier near the end of this job, the fence rather fell apart!  The last stretch has been rather uneven and seems to drop below the normal ground level.  Hence the palings have been sitting in the soil/gravel and rotted away at the very bottom. I was forced to take the fence apart and may eventually need to trim the rotten 4 inches off (which could look a bit odd!) or get someone to make some new palings.  We would need to find some old pallet wood if we are to reproduce them historically accurately of course!

                                        Close up it looks a bit tatty doesn’t it?

Or I could pretend I haven’t noticed, put on a quick coat of the black stuff and screw them back on again! Of course, one isn’t generally allowed to have sharp-pointed tops to one’s fence these days……….

Work in progress as they say.

Pip, pip

Tim

10 Feb 20 – Rained Off/Blown Off!

There may or may not have been a Monday gang today – I didn’t stay long enough to find out!  Looking at the forecast I went in early and managed to work from 0930-1200, before being rained and blown off the ramp.  Surprisingly, apart from a few broken branches there was remarkably little serious debris.  So the only picture I managed was…………a selfie!20200210_1212556341650723638398307.jpg

Sorry, best I could do.  I had hoped that being partly coated in crecote would makes my overall waterproof – sadly not!  More later in the week, hopefully.

Tim

8 Feb 20 – Don’t Panic!

The return of our leaders from their various excursions is, of course, very welcome – not only because they are extra pairs hands, but also because being a mature, experienced volunteer workforce doesn’t mean that we don’t need some management direction. Of course we reserve the right to ignore this direction if we wish but, on the whole, it’s a pretty harmonious set up!

Readers might well have observed the fact they we seem to have done little but painting and fence work plus a little gardening.  Being well aware that Sat 7 Mar is an operating day that means 29 Feb will be the day to put out the benches etc, so that leaves only Saturdays 15 and 22 Feb (plus some Mondays).  Don’t panic!

Which leads us nicely into today’s efforts where a stalwart crowd included Dave G, Steve, Bob & Ros, Maurice, Andy M, John L, Mike and a flying visit from Mick. DAve T (& Mary) have returned from their hols but are taking a few days to reacclimatise!

Here’s a selection of the activities this morning:

Note the ‘salt spreader’on the right, further insurance against a severe winter!
                                         Some serious discussions going on!

Just joking! Main effort was on the fence line where another 18m of board was installed, 20m+ of gravel laid and 25m of fence painted. All of which means that we are only about 20m from completion. Fingers crossed by all those who are tired of reading about it and tired of doing it!

Furthermore, I should note that Dave G’s refurbishment of the benches is very much more than a lick of paint. Although we don’t do every bench every year, the process involves at least an extensive rub down, filling any holes, repriming and repainting.

                                       And no half measures or short cuts!

There’s no doubt that there is a sense of anticipation as ‘train time’ approaches – it’s a sort of a ‘can’t live with ’em but can’t live without ’em’ situation. Reflective of life in general I suppose!

Regards,

Tim

5 Feb 20 – Brexit Bonus?

Since 31 Jan 2020 I notice that there has been a considerable improvement in the weather: sunnier, warmer and much less rain. I wonder if Spring is on it’s way or whether there is another beast lurking in the European east? Can’t be due to Brexit surely? Either way I have no doubt that the weather is much appreciated by all who spend time working outside – including me! That said it has, for the first time been fit enough to work in my own garden – doubling the demands on working hours and competing with railway ‘obligations’. Leading to the frequent comment of the retired: “How was it that I managed to fit in a full-time job?”

So, onwards with the task in hand plus a few reflections on the authenticity or otherwise of restored railways!

Sunshine on the signage! Plus the hi-tech, non-vintage technical additions.

And on the ramp:

We can just about see the end point and, double bonus, the path gets narrower further down.

Which shot, at first glance, looked pretty heritage authentic to me. However obviously not the plastic grit box or the bin liner but the rest….

Does it matter? Well I suppose that’s a question of taste, of regulation and of practicality. A good deal of the Racecourse Station isn’t genuine or authentic GWR and for most of our visitors I suspect it doesn’t matter a bit.  Some things simply wouldn’t be sensible – such as the 1904 sewage disposal or their electrical fittings.  In other areas perhaps it would have been desirable to have more genuine buildings but we are, as they say, where we are – and railway finances don’t always permit – at least not at this end of the railway!

And so that makes about 65 metres of our ramp path completed and 35 to go. Genuine, authentic: wooden fence, boards and gravel – all installed manually and painted by hand. (The only concession, on reflection, was that I did use the electric screwdriver!)

Let’s hope it stays sunny and spring-like, there’s always more to do..

Regards,

Tim

3 Feb – Slip Slidin’ Away….

Slip slidin’ away
Slip slidin’ away
You know the nearer your destination
The more you’re slip slidin’ away

Which lyrics might have been written for those working on the GWSR. Especially those trying to negotiate the slopes and embankments of the Cheltenham Racecourse Station! Still, we haven’t lost anybody yet – as far as I know – and the only real danger is not that the volunteers end up at the bottom of the cutting but that the whole station does! As I have noted before, nature does have a habit of reclaiming its own: whether that’s landslips on embankments elsewhere on the railway, or cuttings returning to their old shape.20200203_1334324747451498496898109.jpg

Good to see Bob and Ros heading down to Platform 2 gardens

However, perhaps one of the (few!) advantages of the ancient but hale workforce we attract is that there is a tendency to only look at the 10 year timescale, or the ‘that’ll see me out’ approach.  Which, to be honest, is about all that is realistic – I mean who could have predicted in 2000 that we would be a 120k passenger a year railway with a turnover to match – even in 2010 it might have been a bit of an optimistic view.

So, perhaps the fatalistic tendencies amongst my colleagues is the right one: que sera, sera! Our visible horizon does however extend a month or so, ie into the new running season and it is about now that worries begin to emerge as to whether are are on schedule.

Today the weather was, once again, kind enough to allow us a window for some fence and path work. So we continued the cycle of painting and fixing, barrowing and raking, garden maintenance and tea drinking.  Particiapting were: Dave G, Roger, Pete, Chris, Ian, Bob, Ros & Mike.

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Good H&SW practice there – or is it concern over the corona virus?

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Ian and Chris cheerfully hard at work barrowing gravel

We have been debating uses for the now empty pink dumpy bags (see above) and the best suggestion so far has been to make a parachute type air brake for GWSR engines. Deployed as trains entered the station it should save on brake wear and the guard could run back to pack it after each use. No? Not heritage enough really?  Ah well well just have to make use of them as garden rubbish bags – as usual.

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Plank drying station (painting by Mike).

Unpainted – the effect of 4 years ‘sun burn’ – and painted (1 coat Cheltenham Mix)

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This one’s for Mary!  Painted along the way down the ramp.

Regards,

Tim

 

1 Feb 20 – While the cats are away?

The most observant readers may have noticed that our leader (Dave T) is absent from duty – sunning himself in distant climes while his trusty team are coping with inclement conditions. As it happens Dave G was away this morning as well – at a slap up lunch for, I believe, Station Staff. So for a while it looked as if we were devoid of cat supervision, so what mice mayhem ensued?

The mice were in fact very industrious and the weather was kind.  With Ben, Steve, John O, Andy & Mike all engaged in pushing the fence/gravel project onwards and downwards.20200201_1044394325316791183026302.jpg

I guess we completed about 25m metres worth of work and we are now about half-way!20200201_10440242166403549220684.jpg

The sequence is: palings loosened, debris cleared, already painted gravel board is inserted and secured to the fence posts, fence is painted, fresh gravel spread and levelled up.  Job’s a good ‘un.

That is, of course, when all is running smoothly – which it rarely does for more than a few moments on this railway.  Today’s issue was a slightly collapsed/misaligned chamber, in which are various services such as power for the lighting, water supply to the platform etc.  The chamber need to be partially excavated, the concrete foundations ‘trimmed’ and then re-set.  And there was the outflow from a cross-drain to consider!

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At some point this ‘creature’ was located on the embankment:

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All suggestions as to what it might be are welcome!

Bob meanwhile sealed one of our leaking downpipes, polished off various other jobs while John L tended the garden/allotment.

A great morning’s work – for which my thanks to all concerned.  Only another 4 such mornings and we’ll be nearly finished.  Should make it by 7 Mar (opening Saturday of the season.)

Perhaps we can work without supervision after all!

Regards,

Tim