I noticed another solar farm project being installed only a few miles away, that makes one completed and two currently under construction. Me and Cosmo went to check it out. I thought the first hurdle would be navigating the stile at the public footpath sign where the walk began. No the stile has gone and a gate with a latch in its place. I have on several occasions had to lift Cosmo over stiles as he can’t get through. So we stride out along the public footpath to see what is the extent of the solar site. The footpath takes us to the edge of the works and the frames are in, but no panels attached yet. The perimeter fence is not as robust as the other two sites, but it did have a double row of very small sapling trees only two foot high inside black protective sleeves, so at first sight it looked like a row of black sticks that had been poked into the ground? They were planted very close together so when fully grown you would be unable to pass through this hedge.
My mind has drifted away I am aware of several scare-crows blowing in the wind, they are actually just sheets on poles flapping about, but my thoughts dwell on ‘applications’…. and how I might approach the project… can I explain why I think I could fulfil the commission….. Can I describe how I would engage the public in this commission, you know the questions, and you have answered them countless times before but they are still hard. Why is that? I am aware out of the corner of my eye Cosmo is charging across the middle of a field at full tilt. I am slightly surprised until I see the rabbit he’s chasing. Good luck with that fella, I say to myself and Cosmo slows down as he sees the rabbit pull away from him. It was a huge field and I wondered if the rabbit would be able to keep that up all the way to the shelter at the edge. It didn’t need to, Cosmo gave it his best shot which was doomed to fail. I know how he felt as the mind remembers what the body used to be able to do, not what it can do. Something that takes a little getting used to.
I see another stile and the initial assessment is I’ll have to lift Cosmo over it. But no he’s managed to find away under it. I am quite relieved as it was high and barbed wire to be avoided as well. He doesn’t like being picked up, he always tries to hamper my efforts and wriggles and squirms about making it difficult to clear anything approaching chest height. We walk along the path to another stile that would require a lifting manoeuvre but instead I decide to walk along the edge of a few fields and get a good look at the construction of these solar panels. The extent of these panels is that the entire span of my vision which is probably a little less than 180 degrees has a silver photo voltaic band along the horizon. It is very narrow band and blends in with the sky sometimes. Strange to think that it is such a huge thing, probably miles long but I can hardly see it and I’m only a hundred yards away from it. The opposite from the iconic look of wind farms standing in massive curtain.
We get up close and it reminds me of a prisoner of war camp, with high wire fences and with these sapling trees it creates a threshold at shin height which you can’t step over or you will be shot at, and I’m unsure for a moment if am I looking in or looking out…..defiantly out looking in. The pallets that the panels are delivered on are much larger than a regular pallets, and the huge scale of the whole thing is becoming apparent to me. Very large areas of land are covered with these panels.
The Nazca Lines in southern Peru kept entering my mind huge figures layed out over the ground, a hummingbird – a condor – a snake – I think there is a monkey and there is defiantly a dog. One explanation for these lines was that they were connected with water in some way? A precious commodity in the desert for the Naska people. Gods would look down and provide rain – I guess these solar farms are all about the sun god looking down and providing energy, only the imagery is rather geometric!
I decide to head back with a more direct route ‘as the crow flies’ rather than go around the perimeter of each field. Quicker but unpredictable and we find that we have to negotiate a 6 foot deep dyke with water at the bottom and filled with bushes and a thicket of brambles. I locate a relative gap in this thicket and am just about to step down into the dyke,
there is a massive BOOM….
We’re under fire, I am at the bottom of the dyke and I’ve not been hit. Cosmo, (he’s not good on firework night) is bolt upright motionless!…. No, he’s fine he’s down the bank.. across and up….. and out to the other side.
Heavy field artillery, where am I… Ypres? I’m climbing out of the dyke using rabbit holes as foot and hand holds, up and ‘over the top’.
I see a blue explosion from the barrel in the enemy gun emplacement. I have only two or three rounds left, a couple of grenades and a smoke canister. But we do have the element of surprise. Grenades in first…. waiting……..think I won coconuts with both of those and the gas canister goes in next………..Cosmo’s got his man down and we’re all over them… bayonets the lot.
The reality is that this turns out to be a bird scarer going off literally a few yards from us on the other side of the dyke behind the thicket. We managed to get back to HQ with no more action.