April began in the same way that March ended - clearing up after Storm Katie, whose
appearance put a very wet and windy dampener on Easter Monday. As you can imagine
clearing trees from a river navigation is much trickier than at other National Trust properties,as I can’t just drive up to them and log them up. Firstly I have to wait for the flow rates to decrease enough so that I can safely use a boat, and then slowly cut the trees up into bite size pieces before using a hand winch to ease them out of the river inch by inch.
Fortunately for me I had some mechanical assistance in the form of the floating excavator,
or to be more accurate two floating excavators! This was because both the National Trust
and EA dredgers happened to be passing through my length on the way to other jobs. This
meant that a day with each machine and my length was clear of fallen trees, saving me a lot of time and energy so thank you to everyone who helped.
With the weather improving all the time I am now well in to my Spring/Summer work
programme, which seems to currently involve spending a lot of hours walking behind a
mower. However I can’t complain as I do get plenty of help from my volunteers, and the
positive comments I get from boaters and other river users makes it all worthwhile. We
even managed to get Stoke Lock painted in between the unseasonal snow showers!!!
Of course, as a Lengthsman, I have to keep my knowledge up to date and skills honed. So
this month I have been on the 3-yearly chainsaw operation refresher course with some of
my colleagues from the maintenance team. It was a very practical and informative course
which helps to pick us up on the bad habits that we may have developed. I have also been
on the first of a series of half day wildflower identification course with Surrey Wildlife Trust, again this helps to keep my plant skills up to date and valid.
April finished with the first of my events for this year, Spring Has Sprung. This was a spring
themed event at our visitor centre Dapdune Wharf, with seed planting, scarecrow making
and pond dipping. Unfortunately despite the name of the event the temperatures were
definitely more suited to winter than spring, so we didn’t have as many visitors as we would have liked. I’d still like to say thank you to all the staff and volunteers who put so much effort into this event and I know those visitors who did come along really enjoyed all the activities.
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