Happy New Year! I hope you all had a very enjoyable Christmas break. It was great to see so many people making the most of the dry weather between Christmas and New Year, taking the opportunity to burn off a few of those Mince Pies. I must say a big thank you to my Relief Weir keeper Nick Georges at this point for covering my water levels for much of the Christmas period. This meant that I got a chance to spend some quality time with my family, which isn’t always guaranteed as water levels seem to have no respect for the Christmas period. You may remember this being demonstrated by the major flooding event of Christmas 2013, but thankfully things were much quieter this year.
Looking back to December now seems like an age ago, but for me it was very much like November with the main focus being to continue cutting back low branches from the offside of the river with my volunteers and to spend the days by myself strimming back the dead vegetation on the towpath. The pattern of wet/dry/wet/dry weather kind of put paid to the strimming though as most of my days (and nights) were spent adjusting weirs. With the river rising and falling, and boat traffic being frequently suspended, I also thought the offside cutback would have to stop. However by some strange coincidence for each Tuesday when my volunteers were out helping the river was back to being calm and stable and we were able to continue working. This isn’t to say that it wasn’t raining on those days - it just hadn’t affected the river yet.
With weirs running it’s very difficult to get stuck in to any major projects so the rest of December was really made up of bits and pieces. Such as removing low branches on a tree over a telephone wire and tidying the workshop ready for machinery servicing in January. I’ve also had my annual performance review (I’m still here so it must have gone ok) and a very interesting meeting with John White who skippered the last ever commercial Wey Barge back in the 1960’s. This was in preparation for one of my 2019 guided walks and I must admit it was so easy to go off topic and just reminisce about what the Navigation must have been like back then, but also to realise how surprisingly little it’s changed in some ways. I suppose that what gives the Wey Navigation that real sense of character and makes it such a special place.
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