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Across the pond

Illustration R.Vrielink: Aerial view of the bridge.

Of course, Bill and I were not surprised when we were asked to build a bridge to the former “studio island” on the other side of the pond. By this point it was common for us to be plucked away from our regular task of protecting the orchard from eroding shores, aggressive rats, exotic lobsters, and nibbling sheep. Once the task was put before us, our park group coordinator handed over a supply list and a requested completion date of 1st April (oh the optimism!)... Turns out ordering and assembling a kit isn’t as easy as one might think!

Photo R. Vrielink: A well-deserved rest on the “Bill-side” of the bridge.

We got the ball rolling late last year, by reinforcing the lock’s washed-out shores and dismantling the old bridge (and also our backs). Fortunately, COVID came to our rescue and kept prying eyes and unsolicited advisors away from our work site. After some adjustments of size/location and a little winter monsoon, we were able to get to work on the foundation holes. These were, for a lack of a better word, a sort of shallow human-sized hole, filled with original 1970s ‘Mien Ruys grindtegels’, held together with cement.

 

The bridge sections (made from a hardwood called Azobe, measuring in at 200cmx20cmx4cm, and weighing a spine-shortening amount) needed a sturdy anti-slip layer of volcanic grit. We must admit, this portion of the bridge strained our relationship several times. But after Ruud took an unexpected dip between the water lilies and the crayfish - his footwork is no longer the same as it was in the 60s - and dealt with a calf spasm that lasted several weeks, all was forgotten with the bridging of the ‘Ruud-side’ and the ‘Bill-side’.

Illustration R.Vrielink: Side view of the bridge.

Fast forward to the present day and the ‘Mien Ruys’ gravel tiles have been used to form the foundation, a 'time capsule' with secret contents has been buried in a secret location, and three durable beams (carefully chosen to hold the weight of one car filled with volunteers) have been placed over the water by seven men and one commandeering woman.

 

Finally, we are ready for the fun part: screwing together the sophisticated construction kit. Or in other words: assembling the planks. Once it’s all done, there will once again be a continuous path along the north-eastern corner of the park and we’ll be able to access our “secret” garden filled with lilies of the valley. Rest assured, this will be completed by April 1st.

Photo B.Admiraal: Observations and musings of a bridge builder
Photo R.Vrielink: A jar of volcanic mix
Photo R.Vrielink: The final resting place of old gravel tiles
Photo R.Vrielink: Commandos marching over ditches
Photo R.Vrielink: With ancient Egyptian precision
Photo B.Admiraal: And now onto the planks...

By: Ruud Vrielink & Bill Admiraal