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.

Another.. BOOM………

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.

1 Comment

I want to carry on with the residential estates theme so our walk with Cosmo today is what we call the normal walk, but I will walk a little further along the sea front to Sea View Holiday Park. This is mobile homes, hundreds of them what is described on the map as caravan and chalet park.

We have quite a way to get there and my mind goes to those places I don’t know where…off ..to the wind farm…which I can’t see as there is a strange atmospheric veil over the sea. I can see fine on the across the land there is no mist, but out to sea the horizon has gone and there are no clues where sky meets the sea, just a vertical veil…an unusual feeling about, as it’s not often the sea is as calm as this. The waves must be only 2 inches high, in some places they don’t even break, just sort of pulse up the beach without rolling over. It is very still, very quiet and I can make out hundreds and hundreds of sea gulls just floating on the flat pond like sea.

I see a homemade sign advertising bird seed for 1 pound forty a kilo and a front grille for a VW with lamps for 75 pounds, these are attached to a gate leading onto another housing  estate. That will be another dog walk on a different day, it’s an eclectic mix of properties and well worth a look around. I get to the coast guard’s cottages and then just a little further on we enter the holiday park.

Rows and rows and rows of magnolia coloured mobile homes, Willerby – Ashcroft – Aspen- St.David – The Rembrandt – Ocean View Manor – Highlander – Granada – Derwent – Roxbury – ABI. I am confused as some of the homes have a house name. Then there is the name of the style of the home and then there is the name of the manufacturer as well. The result one home can have three names on! Sunningdale ABI – Grosvenor – Highlander. Highlander it seems is a manufacturer of homes and calls them Desire or whatever model it is – Almondside – Malvern. There are so many names, the grandest model I saw was called Vogue and I keep seeing signs saying, keep dogs on the lead and don’t let your dogs run into owners gardens.

Now the gardens are the amazing thing about these homes and Cosmo is really enjoying them and he’s not on his lead either. The place is deserted, I have seen only one light on so far, so I’m going to let Cosmo run all over peoples gardens in between the reconstituted stone wells – concrete birds – wire birds – the arrangements of rocks – hanging baskets – topiary bushes – hose pipes – up lighters – corn dollies – pigs in concrete cars – vases – pots – Buda – giant mushrooms – wind chimes – a stone bust – BBQ’S – metal owls – gnomes – bird tables – plastic chickens – hollowed out logs with plants in – calor gas bottles -dream catchers – seats made of drift wood and a bike with handle bars the same colour as those DYNO-ROD vans used to be and Como did not knock any of these over.

Sign says I can trade in my tourer for a luxury holiday home. MINIMUM trade in 2000 pounds. As we walk around to the show room forecourt where second hand ones are for sale I see a totally random interpretation panel showing me what a chaffinch looks like.  So for 58,995 with a deposit of 3900 and monthly payments of 897 I can buy a swanky 2 bedroom one. At the other end of the scale I could also get a two bed for 21,995 with a deposit of 2,200 and monthly payments of 334.

All the names on this side of the park are N. America states and I’m bored with names now.  The trees here not exactly pollarded and their not copiced either, trunks cut at about 6 foot high with shoots bursting from the top of the trunk none of these trees have any limbs? I saw no one and only one single car drove past me the entire time I was there. Now it is time to return home the laundry’s closed and so is the bar, I can see plywood sheets over the pool tables with waste bins and boxes on top and chairs are stacked on the table tops and will be for a month or two yet.


So as a contrast to the Rabbit Shaw walk in the last post I decided to walk around behind a less salubrious estate, the phrase ‘council estate’ gives a mental picture of what might be ahead. As we walk through the estate to reach the fields behind I am only aware of bricks. That is really the only architectural detail I can describe, everything  is brick. Cosmo is not interested in architecture and trots quickly out to the fields behind and I follow him through….. litter….junk I don’t have time to look at what kind of junk as I am in a hurry to keep up with Cosmo, he is keen to move on and we pass out through a missing fence panel . The fields behind have a large fenced off  central enclosure with a few mobile homes in there and one or two cars, but how they got in there is a mystery as we find no access routes.

We walk around the perimeter of a couple of fields and past a burned out, rusty charred carcass of a moped, then onto a footpath which runs very close alongside a busy dual carriageway for may be longer than half a mile.

The traffic smashes past us and it is very loud with the roar of motorway traffic.  We are separated from this traffic by only a few feet and a hedgerow. There is a wire fence often broken down and wooden fence panels at some points with several missing panels. At these points the car wheels are at eye level passing us at 70mph as the path seems below the road level…a  strange sensation…further along the path our feet are level with the car windows, and then we are above the traffic looking down on it. The left hand side has a very good fence of barbed wire stopping us getting into the enclosure with the mobile home in, but the right hand fence, the motorway side is often in tatters. There was never any point anywhere in my vision that was clear of litter. The hedgerow peppered with it.

Then the path opens out, I see a broken fire place laying on the ground opposite two large locked galvanised gates with a sign saying Abbotswood Private. So this is where the cars entered the central bit. There is a padlock on the gates, it has an unusual piece of metal welded on the side of it for the chain to pass through.

The path is a road now and we walk around anther field and start heading back to the car.  We walk past the edge of another housing estate. This one is semi detatched houses with many having a glass conservatory added on the back, taking up about a quarter or a third of the back garden space.

Its nearly dark now and we walk through the muddiest section of footpath I have ever walked along…wanted to suck my wellies off…worse than anything I have encountered in the woods. I see another entrance to the central bit with the mobile home in and the same odd welded metal on the padlock, the gate is not wide enough to drive a car through.  I know I must be getting closer to my car as I can see rubbish glowing white in the dark at me. That’s a white front door with no windows laying on the ground, I think that’s a 1 ton bag of sand with unknown stuff in it. Sheets or blankets seem to have been thrown over the back fence into trees and bushes. I can see bottles and cans on the floor and I take a closer look, special brew, vodka, WKD and a can of iron brew. Mattresses, an mdf bedside cabinet, a wire thing that might have been inside a kitchen cupboard, sheets of torn hardboard, a baby’s car seat, broken fence panels, plastic garden chairs, broken paving slabs and more litter than I can shake a stick at. Back through the missing fence panel and into the roads and houses.

Everything is brick, even the communal spaces are brick. I have parked the car right next to a football and basket ball court. The road surface is not tarmac, but concrete slabs with a mastic/tarry joint between each section.  The basketball rings are supported on 4 inch box section steel supports, the fencing is not chain link it is a metal grid made of 2 inch squares from powder coated metal an inch thick. When you kick this fence it does not rattle and vibrate or give under pressure slightly. Nothing happens when you kick it.

I don’t know what Cosmo saw on this walk but he seemed happy and as interested as I was.

1 Comment

No….I’d got it all a bit wrong.

I wanted to take photos of Red House Farm and planned a walk with Cosmo to go past it, or around it and take a few photos. I had made a red pigment (which was quite exciting) and I wanted to do a red painting called ‘Red House farm’.

So we drove up looking for somewhere to park, but the sign said RED HOUSE FARM PRIVATE ROAD. We drove on looking for a parking place and stopped by a public footpath which went across a field, so with a little bit of a right turn across the back of a field, that should bring me to RED HOUSE FARM.

No….I’d got it all a bit wrong. We walked across the field and I could tell I was nowhere near Red House Farm. I didn’t bring a map and we just carried on and ended up in Chestfield.

This is a place of expensive residences. we walked past a fenced off area with a gate saying Mead Meadow, then another gate saying The Paddock, these two areas were looking like they were all part of the same property. So your own house and garden, a horse exercise area and then your own meadow before green fields and countryside. The architecture………… rather Mock Tudor.

Then I noticed thatched roofs and tiles mixed together on the same building…a sagging ridge line on the roof and the houses here were clearly hundreds of years old. I saw the road was called The Drove. We walked along here looking at the des res either side of the unmade road. I saw a planning notice stapled to a telegraph pole. Residents had only a few days left to raise issues and contact the councils planning department about what I thought was a small housing development proposal. No doubt it was not in character with the area, block light and cause parking mayhem.

I noticed a house called First Green which I thought a little unusual, 100 yards further along the track things opened out and we were beside a golf course, it made more sense now. One house had several yew hedges (almost a maze) in the front garden, another front garden I estimated it would be possible to get at least  a dozen cars on the drive.

I didn’t fancy a run in with golfers over Cosmo charging across putting greens, digging in bunkers and cocking his leg up the signs on the tee.  We found an alleyway and this marked the return of walk back to the car. We passed more modest houses with only room for 2-3 Range Rovers and a BMW mini on their drives. I found myself studying a landscaped communal strip of ground, a kind of long flower bed, where someone had not appointed a landscape contractor or a builder, and I cannot for a moment believe the property developer would have this on their master plan. It was what might be described as a rockery. It was possible to walk through it along paved paths with some ankle high planting. It was…er …..higgledy piggledy and not in keeping with the clean sharp new houses and shiny new cars. I looked at it for several minutes, looking at the standard of brick work, which was clearly not done by a bricklayer, in fact it was a mixture of bricks and paving blocks…..was it art? Definitely could not be described as landscaping in the context of the rest of this place. The most strange aspect to this construction was that it was in a communal area for all to see and walk amongst. Had it been in front of a house completely covered in sea shells or broken plates or something it would have been much more at home!

Cosmo keen to move on was already in a small woodland. I had to negotiate a wire fence brambles and a stream deeper than my wellies before I could catch him up. This long narrow strip of woodland is called Rabbit Shaw and is only about 50-60 yards wide. It has a stream running the length of it and it does not have a single pathway in it. The brambles and thickets impassable in some places. One of these impassable places had to be passed or it was a long walk back the way I had come. Cosmo’s not that keen on brambles either and he usually finds another way, but he had exhausted all the alternatives without finding a way through. So he just waits for me to sort it out.

The only way out is to walk backwards into the bramble thicket stamping down the brambles leaving a channel behind me which he can walk along. This method always works but minor scratches to hands, backs of the ears, neck are inevitable and it is a last resort. This Rabbit Shaw took a long time to get through using this method and my hat was pulled off by brambles several times. I pulled the spiky bramble twigs from Cosmos tail, ears and front leg. I was relatively unscathed and we walked back across the field to the car.