Saturday, August 29, 2009

All the fun of the fair

August Bank Holiday is upon us. Soon the schools will go back, the leaves begin to brown, the winds sharpen and the swallows depart.

I too am off on a brief holiday abroad. More when I return.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Off the rails

"Urban archaeologists and naturalists then climbed the three-story-high viaduct and discovered a wondrous new prairie in the sky, a wild green river that flowed through concrete canyons and disappeared into the distance."

from 'Up in the Park' by Martin Filler
New York Review of Books (online edition)
Vol. 56, No 13 13.08.09

A nice article on the uses and significance of green space in cities, somewhat adjacent to what I have been on about on this blog for some while.

Over at Walking off the Big Apple, Teri Tynes stole a march on the NYRB with her account and photographic essay.

In light of this article and more importantly what it has to say about urban greening, it may be worth pointing out that there is a plan in progress to apply for Lottery Money for a scheme entitled 'Ouseburn Parks Project'. The 'Project' aims to stitch together existing public parks through or alongside which the Ouseburn winds towards its juncture with the River Tyne. Strangely, one might think, the plan as submitted fails to mention the City Stadium (a.k.a. 'Battlefield') green space which lies over and above the river. Or may be it's not strange at all, given long term plans to turn this open space into (at various times) car parking for offices, or a sports and leisure adjunct to a commercially driven housing project. But then, nothing Newcastle City Council puts its underhand to ever surprises me.

What do they plan for Battlefield? All my attempts to reach the Council's 'Ouseburn Project' website failed this afternoon. You try! Link

Update 28.08.09: Link to is now working. However , I could not locate anything about the Ouseburn Parks Project on the web site. If and when I succeed I will post the appropriate link.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Burrowing under

Alarm bells rang as I was whisked past Battlefield last weekend when I spied a huge digger right in a grove of trees and surrounded by security fencing. Has 'it' begun? Had there been a swoop on sleeping Battlefield and the first moves of some great building programme now under way?

I hurried along this morning carrying my camera and tripod.

A few photographs of the 'crime scene' and a glimpse into the large deep hole which has been dug inside the shade of the trees. Then a few raucous shouts. Far from fleeing I sauntered over to the gang of men who had gathered around. Was I a spy? ('On what?' I thought but did not say.) Keep smiling. Yes, and could I get a few mug shots? (In fact I never would take photographs of individuals and figures in my photographic studies are routinely 'smudged' or made less identifiable for reasons I hope are obvious to you.) We had a laugh and I found the men most approachable. They were working on the water and sewage system. One helpfully showed me a map.

Beneath our feet lie nineteenth century sewage pipes and tunnels. Here a problem had been building up with the flow of foul water and the idea is to insert an inspection manhole to gain access to a sharp turn in the travel of the pipe at this point. Of concern to my informants were a number of rats running about. I saw none.

Students, chiefly from overseas I imagine, were walking back and forth. The sun shone and I strolled on with my camera. On a path next to the East Coast Mainline as it leaps out on a fine bridge over the Ouseburn Valley I came across more 'engineering', here relaying a stretch of the path's surface.

Battlefield looked a fine, calm and peaceful place despite these operations. As I turned for home I saw the light angled through trees and thought once again how hard it is to recall one is in a city.