Well folks, no site visit last week on Wednesday or Saturday due to lockdown. I'm not even sure if Inert are continuing with restoration. Doesn't make sense to. Partly due to it being non-essential work and partly due work being halted due to the imminent breeding season.
As part of my exercise routine, I am permitted to walk along the Blackwater, seeing as the area is local to me. I may pay a visit on Wednesday as I need the exercise and well being of nature.
However I may, seeing as I signed up to be both a Community response and NHS transport volunteer, and may go on duty. As it is we are buying food for an 82 year old neighbour who has had heart surgery recently and must self isolate. Therefore she and the community take priority.
See you on the other side, people.
Before we kick off this week's somewhat tedious report, a bit of good news and bad news on my attempts at art.
Good new: Aquadango has been short listed for the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year exhibition. My painting, along with roughly 100 other art works, was selected from over 1,200 entries. Category winners will be chosen from the short listed pieces, and all can exhibit at the Mall galleries, London.
Bad news: Exhibition dates run from 27th to 31st May, 2020. Oops. Unlikely due to a naughty little virus.
Back to the blog. Inert still have a single track road, which requires lorries to reverse some 100m to drop their loads. Only six lorries queuing up to cross the bailey bridge on Wednesday.
I suppose I should have paid a site visit on Saturday to see where all the soil is being pushed. Our bulldozer driver is making a mighty pile of soil, but I never see him push the stuff very far north i.e. towards Cormorant lake (south). It must be going somewhere. I might visit next weekend.
The single track road is pretty lethal. I would have thought the ground would have dried out by now. It is very slippery, with some enormous potholes. Lorries have to drive very slowly and carefully along the track - increasing the time for queuing lorries and the time it is taking to complete restoration.
I have a photo of a lorry negotiating a pothole. I have no idea why it isn't filled in with a large lump of concrete or lots of 100mm ballast. There is enough of it lying around. It would make the lorry drivers' lives easier.
Oh, a couple or three weeks ago, I posted photographs of the east most gate across the footpath by the bailey bridge. It showed the gate somewhat dented after being hit by a lorry. Due in main to walkers unable to close the gates properly. It isn't difficult, but you would be amazed at the number of times I've found the gates either left open or not closed properly.
Last week the west gate across the footpath had taken a severe knock from a lorry, and the gate post (a fairly major block of wood) had been broken, though not so much that the gate couldn't function as a gate. This week, my Wednesday stomp revealed the gate on its side, with the post completely sheared off.
It was inevitable, but simply down to stupid walkers unable to grasp the mechanics of closing a gate.
There was a digger working on the south vehicle track, next to where the bulldozer was operating. No idea what it was doing, except one of the random pieces of work Inert get up to; which do not seem to serve any real purpose except waste time.
Oh, the pump still isn't running but water levels are low in the lakes. I need to pop over to find out why. I do not think Cormorant lake (south) has been joined with Manor lake, with water somehow flowing out of the latter into the Blackwater. Simply due to Manor lake being higher than Cormorant lake.
This could well be my mantra for the coming weeks or months; given that Inert/Cemex do not cry off for the breeding season.
My Wednesday visit revealed only four lorries sat in a traffic jam, as they waited patiently to cross the bailey bridge. At least the process is costing Cemex less, as they don't shell out for lorries drivers to sit idle for up to 50 minutes at a time, waiting for one lorry to reverse 100m down a single track road to drop its cargo.
As a result of this silliness and lack of project management, restoration progress is glacial and costing Cemex an unnecessary fortune. I wish I had that amount of money to fritter away. In my experience, this is how management works - they don't, except when it comes to pay and bonus time, when suddenly they make themselves out to be heroes, bringing in projects on time and to budget.
I didn't pay a visit on Saturday: no point as so little had been accomplished, plus it was raining yet again. Sheesh, I think it has rain every day since last October.
The pump wasn't working, which is quite surprising. Water levels in Cormorant lake (south), from what I could see, were very low. Quite perplexing, given the amount of rain we continue to have.
This must be costing Cemex a fortune: up to 10 lorry drivers, plus a digger operator, twiddling their thumbs doing nothing (except burning diesel) as the former wait in a traffic jam.
Inert have removed the two way vehicle track alongside the Blackwater footpath and the track alongside the lake. Instead they have replaced them with a single carriageway. Thus, only one lorry at time can use it.
Up to 10 lorries will queue on the south side of the bailey bridge, waiting for one lorry to reverse some 100 yards west to the bulldozer, drop its load, drive back and cross the bailey bridge. It's madness. Three lorries can achieve the same throughput at a fraction of the price.
Two years ago there was both a two way vehicle track running along side the Blackwater footpath, with the option of a circular route along the lake. I saw as many as 20 lorries in operation at once, and restoration progress was rapid.
Now, only one lorry at a time uses the track, with restoration rates plummeting to glacial pace, schedules pushed back and costs to Inert/Cemex rocketing.
I am further baffled by why Inert are piling up spoil along the vehicle track. I though the idea was to fill in Cormorant lake. The bulldozer diver also doubled up as a digger operator, but he was scraping soil back from the infill area and piling it up alongside the vehicle track?!?!?!?
My Wednesday stomp revealed a digger working on what was Finch pond. Again, I am taken with Inert flitting about the site, seemingly engaged on random tasks; this time building yet more piles of soil. It wasn't as if there was any landscaping going on i.e. the digger digging out the new, tiny Finch pond. Instead, our heavy earth mover was bringing in yet more stuff (not a lot, due to the traffic jam) for the digger to pile up.
Anyway, I did visit the site on Saturday, in light rain. This stuff is incessant. The amount of mud, again of quicksand consistency, is a sight to behold. I was unable to proceed along the vehicle track where the bulldozer was working this week. There was a sea of deep, thin porridge like mud that was inching its way up my wellies as I walked eastward - and that was before I reached the really churned up stuff where the bulldozer had been working.
I had to back track west, then gingerly clamber a low embankment to get to the south footpath, before proceeding east to the transformer, where upon I could get back onto the site. Though I stayed off the vehicle track, it was too muddy. I simply took a couple of photos, before getting back to the south footpath and heading back home.
Oh, the pump didn't appear to be on. Which is curious, as water levels were quite low in the lake. I need to work out why.
Inert have returned tentatively to Manor farm, after their short hiatus. I get the feeling that they have been middling around the site for a week or so. Lots of subtle signs.
Inert's return to Manor farm does not herald an associated amount of activity. My Wednesday stomp revealed roughly one or perhaps two tipper trucks, with the bulldozer driver having a leisurely time of it all.
Rather oddly, at one point I noticed the heavy earth mover trundle up to the bulldozer, and the drivers have a brief chat. Whereupon the heavy earth mover does a U turn and heads back to Chandlers farm.
One reason for the somewhat sedate pace is that the tipper trucks have to reverse some 100 or so metres from the Bailey bridge to the bulldozer, which was stationed near my mighty mound i.e. not too far from the copse. This means only one tipper truck can operate at a time. Very curious.
Previously, there was a vehicle track that ran along the old shore line of Cormorant lake. Lorries could trundle westward down this track. Drop their load without any reversing. The return leg would simply involve driving forward, turning south and describing wide semi circle to join up with the south vehicle track and trundle back to the bailey bridge.
Actually, it would be better if they went west along the south vehicle track. Turn right to join the vehicle track along Cormorant lake, head east a bit, drop their load and continue on to the pump. When they turn right at the pump, they would be facing the bailey bridge and could see if there were any lorries heading towards it from Chandlers farm.
May be I'm thinking too simplistically. Oh the pump did not appear to be working. Water levels were high, and I did not visit the site on Saturday partly as Inert didn't appear to be doing very much but mainly as it was bucketing down - no surprises there. I think it was Strom Jorge or perhaps a mini precursor.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.