In the campaign by the Keep Britain Tidy group they remind dog walkers that there is no such thing as the dog poo fairy. On this 2 and a half miles of river there is. Me. I don’t get to wear a pink tutu and wings (although I suppose I could if I wanted to but I think I’d feel a little silly) and it doesn’t disappear at the wave of a wand but I do do my best to keep everything clean and tidy for visitors.
My litter picking efforts routinely consist of collecting far more bags of dog mess than anything else and this morning was no exception. There were the usual decoratively placed at head height variety, the slung in the bushes to make it really awkward to collect variety and the common or garden just bag it and leave it where it fell variety.
In addition dog mess there were also the usual beer and pop bottles although I don’t know what sort of recreational walk requires a full sized bottle of port, that was a new one on me. There is always at least 1 cigarette lighter, although I particularly enjoyed the bold design choice of a carrot in a chef’s hat on today’s offering, and whoever designed those squidgy protein sports ration packs clearly had no idea how sticky and unpleasant they get when they’ve spent a little time in the undergrowth. In another first though today, I can’t remember ever collecting a cycle helmet before, but it made a nice makeshift carrying basket for the bottles that were too heavy for my bag. There was an added bonus that walking along with my collection I got an eerie impromptu beer bottle orchestra sonata from the wind to accompany my journey!
Happy New Year to everyone! It’s been a bit of a damp start but that seems to have been a bit of a pattern over the last few years. I was very glad of the rota falling kindly giving me New Year’s Eve off. I’m not sure if it is me getting older or the lack of sleep the weir-keeping has allowed me over the last little while, or both, but the chance of a night when I could actually sleep right through without having to set my alarm every hour or two was something I wasn’t going to waste enjoying myself. Bah Humbug. The ever increasing number of fireworks did mean that my slightly neurotic rescue dog made sure I didn’t miss all of it anyway. Bless her.
The period between Christmas and New Year was unusual in that I had a lifted lock gate to deal with, which is usually a summer problem. Someone had managed to wedge their boat under the gate when they were filling the lock and the raising boat took the gate with it. It’s the large-scale engineering equivalent of lifting it off its hinges, although they don’t have hinges, just a collar, hollow quoin and socket. Repairing it is a much lower-tech operation than you might imagine. It just takes some sash clamps, a bottle jack, some timber blocks and a little bit of know-how. In case for any reason you find yourself aboard a boat in about to do the same, please don’t panic. There’s no need. If you are aware of what is going on all you need to do is stop the water coming in by closing the upper paddles and let some water slowly out. There is no need you should ever get into that situation if you use the jolly yellow pins at the back of the lock chamber for your stern line. That’s why we paint them every year to remind you!
Lock gates are not supposed to look like this!