Saturday, 22 November 2008

Running Repairs

We connoisseurs of the delapidated and time-worn are pretty much on the winning side, when it comes to the long view, but we do suffer constant set-backs at the hands of the fixer-uppers, as illustrated by recent events in the botanical garden. Don't get me wrong: without the People With Plans and Power Tools we'd have nothing tumbledown to admire except the dripping wall of a cave, so we don't moan too much when a favourite site of neglect finally gets a lick of paint. As I say, time is on our side.

But it can seem that no sooner has a pane of glass, say, acquired a pleasing pattern of grime than someone comes along and washes it off. It can be very frustrating, and you have to learn to act quickly and accept your losses. It's guerilla warfare.

Sometimes, of course, stuff just needs fixing. The sequence I call Water Gauge illustrates the point. I've been visiting the grounds of Mottisfont Abbey (a National Trust property near Romsey, Hampshire) for a very long time, but a few years ago the natural chalk spring caught my eye, and I spent a year photographing it more or less weekly.

18th March 2006

1st April 2006

6th May 2006

As it happened, I had managed to pick the first year in human memory that this "perpetual spring" actually ran dry, which lent some additional interest to the sequence, and gave me the handy metaphor that became the sequence's title. But clearly something had to be done about checking the plumbing.

31st September 2006

During the closed season the Trust got on the case, and presumably cleared a blockage, perhaps a little too enthusiastically:

March 2007

It does look like a military re-enactment society is doing The First Day on the Somme, doesn't it? But it's all fixed now, and back to its job of constantly and mysteriously extracting pure water out of the ground and pouring it into the River Test again. I recommend a visit if you're ever in the area.

N.B. if you'd like a copy of the Water Gauge book, you can get one at my Blurb shop, just click on the cover to go there:

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