The early May Bank holiday was the hottest since records began, which is the polar opposite of the month before when Easter weekend was a complete washout! Of course the sunshine has drawn people to the river, whether it be boating, cycling or just walking, which is fantastic as it makes all the hard work my volunteers and I do seem worthwhile. For instance the build up to a busy bank holiday means mowing locksides, strimming visitor moorings and finishing off the last of the lock painting to make sure the river looks its best. Alas the finishing of the lock painting wasn’t to be this year, as one hour before we finished painting Bowers Lock the heavens opened without warning delivering ten minutes of torrential rain before the sunshine returned. This meant that the white lines around the locks had run down the chamber walls, the gloss had rain drop craters all over and I actually mopped a layer of water and the white undercoat off the balance beams with a cloth! It just goes to show that no matter how well organised I am, working outdoors we have to work with the weather and the seasons, not against them.
It’s not just been me and my weekly volunteers who have been painting this month but also volunteers from Surrey Care Trust who base themselves on their work boat “Swingbridge2” and go up and down the navigation carrying out work for us and Guildford Borough Council. For most of May they have been moored up at Stoke Lock, from there they motored down to Bowers Lock each day and kindly painted the two bridges at the lock. They also did a fantastic job of filling in a very large area of erosion on the towpath just downstream of Stoke Lock. This was accomplished by sustainably harvesting coppice material locally and then creating a series of steps to restore the banks original profile.
Other jobs this month have included filling in pot holes in the track at Stoke Lock and fitting new rubber matting in my work boat. Of course not everything I do is physical; the other side of my role is to try and meet with you the public, in a bid to engage and enthuse about the work we do. On the late May Bank holiday the other Lengthsmen and I spent the day at Thames Lock chatting with the public. The gorgeous sunshine meant that everyone was in a good mood and were more than willing to stop and hear about what it takes to run and maintain a unique National Trust property like this. We also had our own lock model there which meant that passing children could learn how a lock works. Watch out for our other pop up events along the navigations this summer, where we will have themed stalls setup at different places.
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