Friday, March 4, 2016

Building bridges with Lord Ludgershall and The Duchess of Cambridge

Here follows a photographic record of a bridge being built over the river Dever.

It's a new one for me, as I normally undertake such tasks alone in the utmost secrecy as I like to take my time, minimise mistakes and anyway it's quite a satisfying task to undertake and such things should be savoured

This time, Lord Ludgershall has dodged his duties in the other place and travelled from the family seat daily (a cost unclaimed on parliamentary expenses) to assist me in my task and record events with his box brownie

With Ludgershall facetiously whistling Colonel Bogey, I began the task without paper plans, and a slight fug as to how I had pictured the bridge when placing the order for the wood a month ago. Banging the first few posts in from the repositioned old bridge seemed a good place to start, taking my time to make sure each post was straight as I will have to look at this bridge every day that I am employed to walk these banks.

The river is about four feet deep at this point with a gravel bottom ,and with a requirement for a hand rail,

the posts on the upstream side were ten feet long and banged straight into the gravel and then left for twenty four hours for the gravel to grip them and provide a sturdier feel.

Runners and bearings the next day, another steady job with the emphasis on getting things level, as all else after this is dressing,
a point lost on Lord Ludgershall who played Statler and Waldorf from the bank to my Fozzie Bear with repeated cries of "get on with it"

Ludgershall, always keen to discuss the issues of the day, briefly turned his back on bridge building when the conversation turned to Europe, he is no bridge builder and muttered something about some form of control of passage on one end of the bridge at this point,

but when I jumped into the river to complete dangerous manoeuvres with a chainsaw (It is writ on the label of my hat purchased online that the skins of the aborted foetuses of karakul lambs used to construct my headgear in Tajikistan are woven with kevlar, and the accompanying glasses are constructed from the windscreen of a long defunct space shuttle, I am safe, and feel kinda healthy, but could someone invent some chainsaw trousers that will fit under neoprene waders)

His interest soon resumed to the task in hand.

Strings out for the deck, which can hide all manner of mistakes beneath,

In all weathers, but I will never complain about rain at this time of year.

and the slats are measured individually, cut and fixed.

The handrail is attached and sanded down and wire attached to the deck to provide traction for the most gripless of wellies.

The old bridge is hauled from its position,

and floated downstream to its temporary berth before the journey to its new home on the flight pond,

and then we were faced with the conundrum of who to open the bridge.

Norman Foster was busy, and Brunel was not answering his phone.

So Lord Ludgershall called in a few favours (and this is where an ermine coat pays) and within the hour the Duchess of Cambridge had abandoned her game of tennis and was preparing to cut the ribbon. She seemed to show great interest in the types of weed I pointed out to her and I like to think she understood the importance of ranunculus.

I must confess that I experienced a Will Carling, Princess Diana moment and was completely smitten (the lady who sleeps on my left will always have Tom Selleck and Peter Powell so I am exonerated)

At one point the Duchess got quite giggly and requested a ride on my tractor, at which point I thought - Hello,

but Lord Ludgershall's ribald tone turned her head and our moment was gone.

C'est la Vie (Robbie Nevil 1985)

but one of my better bridges,

thank you Lord for your assistance.


James Denison said...

Chris, that's a great job done and may I add, quite mad too! Although a very good taste in women :)

Josh gray said...

Nice to see the job finished Chris, hope all is well.