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Some times one wonders why a series of events happen. Taking my radio to this small park proved to be one of those situations where negative things add up and on reflection one wonders just why so many happen together. This mal-adventure began with me reviewing the available parks on the Parks-on-the-air website and discovering that this small park was never activated. Those around it had all been done but not this little one. I assumed it just slipped between the cracks but I now think it had been skipped on purpose! Not knowing the area or history I decided to visit the park. On the map and Street View I saw that there was a nice grassy area that looked ideal for the antenna and operating site. So, I set out after lunch.
Making my way there went well and soon I arrived at the cul de Sac on which the park had a small opening. I parked and scouted the area. I now realized I had forgotten my camera but I did have my iPhone. The grassy section at the top section of the park was sloped but seemed quite workable so I returned to the car and loaded my gear into the cart. I then set up my table and mast tripod. Next came the antenna and I stretched it out but the mast over-balanced and fell over hitting a tree this caused the top segment of the fibreglass to break in a couple of places. It was still holding together but the core was broken. I lifted the mast back up and it tried falling a few more times but eventually was stable.
Once the antenna was ready, I hooked up the radio and dialed in 15m. The noise floor was S8+ I could barely hear stations in the background. I placed a few calls and spotted myself on the list and I think a few stations were trying me but I could hear none. I dropped to 20m but it was the same. This location was between several houses and they were likely causing the noise. So, I decided to move to the north end of the park, down the slope and across a road. This area is a brambly section across a small gully with a trail along the western edge. The trail also ran along side a home but here there was only the one house. I packed up my equipment and antenna and made for the trail.
Upon arrival I went in just enough to allow the antenna to stretch out. There I set up the mast and began stretch the wire elements but the mast collapsed fully into the pipe I use with the tripod. The pipe swallowed the fibreglass mast fully! I flipped it over and pulled out the mast to see that now the top sections were missing altogether! I extended the remaining portions and started to work the wires again only to find them tangled up in the brambles. Now I was getting a bit annoyed but continued and eventually had the antenna in the air and ready.
I set up the radio again and decided to stay at 20m, here the background noise was down a bit S7! I thought this may be enough and so I found a frequency and re-spotted myself. I soon heard a station in California. He was strong but barely readable due to the noise. He upped his power and I was able to get him logged. I told him about the noise floor and he wished me luck, fortunately a couple other stations also heard my plight and stuck around to get themselves logged. It took considerable effort to get each station in the log but before long I had the needed 10, there were a few stations waiting who had tried me so I worked a few more extras but stopped at 14 as it was no longer enjoyable. The strongest station was a chap just up the hill from me, he was in Guildford area only a couple kilometers away! All the station’s I worked had strong signal reports to overcome the noise, but even so the noise made them difficult to work.
Well, I was done with calling so I started to pack up. The wires again got tangled in the brambles and some tree branches. The cart was on an angle and didn’t want to stay put for loading nor did the items being placed in it. I eventually got things stowed and I crossed back over the road to the main grassy part of the park and continued on to the car. The park however was not done with me yet, it wanted a good final send-off to ensure I thought twice about coming back. As I was loading the tripod and pipe section into the car it slipped and cracked my rear tail-light. So Now I need to repair the car.
I left the place and don’t plan to return any time soon, there are more friendly parks out there. Some of those I will return to I hope many times. At least this one is now activated and no longer a gap on the map. There are a few more un-activated parks and now I am wondering why. Despite the challenges it was still good to be out and to see a new part of Surrey.