28 Mo-Vember 2009 (Saturday) - Mending Gate Posts

A few weeks ago there was an accident on a certain farm involving a tractor and a fence post. Today I offered to help to repair the damage. Well, not so much repair as rebuild from scratch.

Up with the lark, and off to the farm with Batty at 8am. We exchanged insults with the turkeys and the geese, then fed the ducks. And then we adjourned to get some brekky from the local roadside cafĂ©. You can’t beat a steak baguette first thing in the morning. And then, suitably fed, we got on with the job in hand. The gate post had been snapped off at ground level, so the job was straight-forward. Get the stump out of the ground, replace it with a new pole. Remove the metal fencing and barbed wire from the old broken post and attach it to the new one. How hard could it be?

The first task was to remove the old stump that was left in the ground from when the post broke. We had this idea to drill into the stump, screw in a fairly substantial spike, then hoik the thing out of the ground. Easier said than done, as the top part of the spike was rotten, and was falling apart. So we decided to dig the post stump out. Two feet down we reached the water table, and from that point onwards we were mucking about under water. We then had an plan to clove-hitch a rope around the thing and pull it out. It wouldn’t budge. We went and got a tractor to do the pulling. The rope kept slipping off the stump. Eventually we had the idea to replace the rope with a metal hawser. That worked – how we cheered when it came out of the hole.

Having been heaving on the thing for over an hour, there was a sense of “job done” at this point. Oh, silly us…. We then put the replacement gate post in place. Oh, how I laughed. For the thing to do its job, we needed about five feet of post above ground level. We had eighteen inches. The old post was somewhat longer than we’d thought. So we adjourned to rummage around the barns to see if we couldn’t find a longer bit of wood somewhere that we might bodge into fencepost shape.

We then had a spell of some twenty minutes when everything went alarmingly to plan. Not good, so in order to return us to a sense of normality I managed to seriously lacerate my finger with a pair of mole grips and cover absolutely everything with a generous coating of blood.

The job eventually took us three hours. I’m rather amazed with the finished product. I like helping on the farm – I wonder what needs doing next.

Having done such sterling work we thought we deserved a treat, so we set off to Staplehurst for an impromptu pub crawl. We started off in the Bell hotel. Two ales on – Westerham’s “Finchcock” (rather obscure), and “Falcon” (very obscure). We were offered tasters of each, which is something you don’t often get, and then we were taken to our table where the waitress took our orders, and then dropped the beer all over the floor. Two pints went everywhere. She was mortified; I thought it was hysterical. The food arrived, taking a little longer than I would have liked, but it was worth the wait. How would I rate the pub? I can’t help but feel that were we sitting in the cosy bar near the open fire I would have liked it better. But the restaurant bit was rather clinical, and very cold.

Rather than having a second pint, we walked over the road to the Kings Head and sat by their fire enjoying a pint of the “Late Red”. Whilst a Shepherd Neame pub, it was OK. There was a telly for those who feel the need to shout at sport whilst having a pint, and whilst the telly was tucked away round the corner, after a few minutes the noise of the three telly-watching thugs rather spoiled the ambience for the two dozen people who chose to be away from the telly.

We finished up in the Pride of Kent. Let’s just say that if Kent is proud of this grot-hole, I’d hate to see something of which Kent is ashamed. I then slept most of the way home…

And then some research. Some time ago I offered to give a talk to the astro club, and I started working on something about the planet Saturn. And then forgot every word about it. I’m down to be speaking in three months’ time. So I spent a while trying to find what I’d started, and then spent some time working on it. I’ve also said that I will try to scare up some display boards. eBay has failed me. If any of my loyal readers know of a supply of cheap display boards….

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