Monday, 16 January 2017

Drizzle and slabs

The BBC forecast was in two minds for today:

a. All day rain (BBC's weather icons) or
b. Drizzle to start with, fading to the east (BBC's narrative)

We had 'a.'

It was so wet that the windscreen wipers in the car increased to maximum speed while driving down on the B4632. What a washout.

Unperturbed, 8 volunteers reported for duty and fun at Hayles. It would surely stop raining soon...
Because of the sodden ground, it was decided not to park on the adjacent bridleway any more, and Jim G asked our neighbours DLF Seeds Ltd whether we might use their overflow car park. This they let us do, but better still, they offered us a big bag of grass seed to sow on the newly landscaped cutting slope around the halt. Brilliant. Thank you, DLF Seeds!

After walking in the rain for 200yds from our alternative car park, it was very cheering to be offered, immediately on arrival, a hot mug of steaming tea by a hand reaching out from inside the container.

In the hope the rain might ease off, we stood inside for a while and shared more tea and doughnuts.

The sound of the kettle and the rustle of the doughnut bags being opened brought an immediate two visitors: Steve, on his way to Pry Lane to level the ballast tipped on the extension, and Lucky, the Dalmatian.

Lucky sumitted the container to an intensive survey by nose.

Eventually he located what he was looking for, and dived into the bin bag (with last week's rubbish, or possibly even older rubbish!).

He emerged after quite a period of rummaging, chewing something indescribable.

We preferred not to ask too many questions, and hope that he got home alright without being sick.

Outside, the horizon was scanned for the tiniest break in the cloud. There were none. An arpeggio on a mobile then announced a text message, which turned out to be from a worried spouse informing the volunteer recipient that he had left his gloves at home. This was very thoughtful, but he already knew that....

Tim came in his convertible MX5 - the hood was up, can you believe it - and tried to lay corbelling bricks, but it was just too wet to do this. After considering our options, we decided to lay slabs instead, which was still feasible.

Dave P was dispatched to Winchcombe to fetch the Telehandler. After half an hour's waiting he duly emerged from the gloom, bearing a load of 5 additional slabs from the pile behind the B&S compound there.

Due to the inclement weather, and having already excercised the options of tea and / or doughnuts in the container, a number of us decided to wait under the bridge in the dry. No point in getting wetter still while waiting for Dave.

Still in the rain, now reduced to a steady drizzle, we started laying slabs. This went quite well, and at the end of the day we had laid a further 7, making 17 laid so far.

Jim H was slinger for the day, and did a good job with Dave P in the Telehandler, given the confined approach to the platform (hampered by a row of ballast at the rear).

While we all got pretty wet out in the relentless drizzle, we had only very limited sympathy for Dave P, who, in his nice warm cab, heater and windscreen wiper on, complained that he got a wet knee from under the open window.

Yes, it's tough, being a Telehandler driver.

Once a slab was down, Paul came in to check it for height, alignment and level.

A steadily lengthening row of slabs can be seen in the background, as well as a row of ballast piles on the left, which was prepared last week out of the remains of the initial supply of infill.

This still needs scooping up by the Telehandler, on a day that it is equipped with its bucket.

We laid the 7 slabs before lunch. After lunch, it was decided not to continue laying, but to remove the 10 slabs laid on the platform infill, so that Steve can continue with his landscaping and push the excess into the rear of the platform. Although we wanted to use these 10 slabs for laying straight away, they were all out of square or damaged in some way, so that they all need their ends cutting off to make them useable. Due to the rain, our man with the disc cutter didn't come today, so that is a job for next time.

Here we see Dave P, Jim H and Julian slowly removing the slabs that need cutting to the other side of the trackbed. Just 5 more to go. On the right, the long pile of infill that got in the way, and which now needs scooping up.

At the end of the day, you can see the 17 slabs now laid in total, covering perhaps a third of the full platform length. The 10 slabs that need cutting have been removed, so that the area is now ready for Steve to continue reprofiling the sides, and more importantly, finish excavating the site for the concrete base for the corrugated iron shelter that is coming. The grass seed is, inter alia, for the area in the foreground, which is now covered in fresh earth.

There's still a bit more corbelling to do right at the back (the final row in the last section) and along the bit in the front, where the blues have been positioned.

From the soggy state of the path on the right, you can imagine what our boots looked like at the end of the day. Now to drive home, and hang eveything up in the garge to dry. Let's hope it's going to be ready for Wednesday!


  1. I thought there was a possibility of grass seed from your neighbour, something to cross of the list of "things to do".

  2. I don't envy any of you working in that sort of weather. Well done to those who turned up and did what you all did. Regards, Paul.

  3. Yes!.The weather,was pretty damp,and dreary,yesterday!.Good on you all!.I'm looking forward to taking some video shots,from the halt,when it's finished!.All the Best!. Anthony.

  4. How about mixing some wildflower seeds in with the grass while you're at it ?