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.

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