Starting at silly o’clock 

When you do a physical job and the forecast is for very warm weather, it makes sense to get ahead of the day. I planned ahead and got organised last night which meant I could be on site from 06.30 to mow and strim the lock side at Newark. That way I could get the heaviest jobs of the day out of the way while it was in the low 20s not the low 30s. The added bonus is you get some spectacular views, and some friends to talk to.

Sun rays through the trees at Newark Lock

Spider’s eye view of Newark Priory

The cow’s and I have an understanding. When I cut foliage that I know they are going to like, I leave it somewhere they can find it and they don’t look at me like I’m a total fruitcake (all the time) and they forgive me for mowing and making a noise first thing in the morning.


Bobbing for bicycles

on a Friday afternoon, the way you do. Well, you do if you’re a Lengthsman. It’s a bit of a change of pace from smiling at butterflies and not what I’d planned for the afternoon, but that’s part of the fun. I always make a plan and a ‘To Do’ list but things very rarely go to plan, you’ve got to be able to roll with the metaphorical punches.

I got a call to say there was a bike under a bridge, clearly abandoned and dropped over the railings by its rider but probably not owner. It was reported to be in the perfect place and depth to snag an unsuspecting boat’s prop so it clearly couldn’t wait. As it was not on my length a boat rescue for the offending bike was impractical. It would take me well over an hour to get there so it was a case of loading up the van with the grappling hook and extendable boat hook and hoping my aim wouldn’t fail me. Plan B would have been waiting for Thames Lock to close and commendeering a punt and a Dave from there but thankfully it didn’t come to that. 

Bike wrangling kit

Somehow I managed to catch hold of the frame with only my second swing of the grappling hook. I would like to claim it was pure skill, and I have had a fair bit of practice over the years, but I’m afraid blind luck was probably the main reason. That and the lack of an audience. It always goes much better without an audience, otherwise I’d probably still be there now.


Second time lucky (yes I know my work boots are overdue a clean)

Regardless of the reason the rope gods were clearly smiling on me and all it took was a little brute force to get it back on terra ferma. Now all that remains is to find out if it’s been reported stolen so I  can reunite what’s left of it with its owner and if that draws a blank donate it to our local bike recycling scheme so it can have a new life somewhere else. Either way boats may safely pass without peril, which is a good couple of hours work.

The final pull to freedom

Waking up to wildlife

Always the best way to start the day. This red admiral butterfly was enjoying the sunshine this morning when I opened the curtains.  As they are cold-blooded they need the warmth of the sun to warm the muscles they need for flight. That’s why you don’t see many flying on the cooler days, they are saving their energy under a leaf somewhere.


That’s why I built them a butterfly beach. A little somewhere to warm their wings in the morning.