November saw work parties resume after the appointment of John Baker as a new rights of way assistant. For this task we went back to Goose Green to re-open a heavily overgrown footpath, erect some way marks and cut a new entry through a hedge.
Having proved that at least some muscles had not atrophied over the long break, we decided to take on a challenge for December. Well, that’s not strictly true, as it was me who decided we should tackle some challenging jobs and the others just walked into the trap. So the tasks went like this: Team 1, our gallant veg. cutters, were told there was some general clearance to do, and oh, by the way, there is a small tree across the path, we haven’t got any chain saws, but you should be able to cut it into small pieces using your bow saws. Well, I thought it would be quite a challenge, but was sure they could do it. However, it turned out it was an oak, only a small oak, but nevertheless a slightly-enhanced sawing challenge.
Team 2’s task was to replace a couple of sleepers on a sleeper bridge over a small stream. Fairly straightforward; well, it should have been, but it turned out that the sleeper bridge was, in fact, carefully supported/ balanced over a large concrete duct which the stream flowed through. So there was a lot more thought and work needed on how to pin the sleepers so they did not move.
Meanwhile Team 3’s job was to replace all the planking on top of the steel girders on a proper bridge over a stream. Of course, when we got down to it we also found that the bearer strips, which sit directly on top of the girders for the planks to screw onto, were also rotten and had to be replaced. However, as everyone knows, when facing a large difficult task motivation is the key, and in this case it was the fact that we had booked a table for our Christmas Lunch at the Crown in Chiddingfold. So, amazingly, we got all the work done and still managed to get to the Crown for a late lunch. Well done all.
Finally, in January a small team went to Elstead and erected the oak field gate that we bought as a memorial to Denis Holmes. The gate, or, more accurately, the supports, are truly monumental and should easily be there for the next 100 years, so a fitting memorial for one of our longest serving members.