On a balmy day in this Indian Summer, volunteers met once again at the canoe store in Coed Gwilym Park. The severe rainstorms ten days ago had left the floor muddy, smelly and damp. So it was with much of the equipment, and we took this sunny opportunity to have a good clean up.

Everything in the store that wasn’t fixed down was moved outside so that the concrete floor could be thoroughly swept and cleaned. After removing leaves and debris, water was bucketed over the entire area and the remaining mud brushed outside to the newly-cleared drain, which had blocked so badly during the storms. After repeating this process several times the floor looked like its old self again! Other equipment, such as the hanging racks, were also given a good scrubbing and mouldy carpet padding on the canoe racks was removed and replaced.

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Tea break thankfully followed this arduous work and when we were fully fed and watered (mince pies and cakes courtesy of Jan Williams) we faced the conundrum of what comes out must go back in (or must it?).

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With no canoe activity planned until next Easter, John Grav took away the buoyancy aids to safe storage for the winter and John G moved life rings, canoe trolleys and other items to the site office for safe keeping. Alan T trailered other equipment to the buried lock site and rubbish and waste timber was consigned to the skip.

Canoes, kayaks, billboards, chairs and tables were manhandled back to their original positions and the store was ready for its winter hibernation. Phew!

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Outside of the store Alan W cleaned out all the bird boxes, Sharon B, Chris M and Annette H swept up bags of leaves and Whitethorns staff and clients helped our John A, Paul R and David G clear debris, litter and twigs from the towpath.

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So a full mornings’ work saw the store returned to a tidier, cleaner and sweeter condition. With Alan T and Steve H having completed the blue repaint on the previous Sunday, and the roof now replaced and watertight, the refurbishment is nearing completion. Further internal work is required before the new hire season commences, to clear floor space and improve storage provision, but we feel we are now on the home straight!

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