I cross the busy road and, as he's just turned around, I put my hand on the shoulder of the foreman who's wearing ear protectors. He nearly jumps out of his skin.
'It's all right - I just didn't see you coming.'
'Why are they taking these down?'
'That tree was damaged and ready to fall onto the road, so it needs to come out.'
'Oh, right; so they're not building then,' I say, as a way of ending the conversation, and I apologise again.
I'm not happy with the explanation. One rogue tree doesn't necessitate cutting down half a dozen smaller trees that are nowhere near the road.
When I first moved down here there were tall willows by this bend of Smithy Brook next to the viaduct. A pocket nature park. I remember looking down and seeing a mallard sitting tight on her nest amongst the wild garlic.
Then they built a machine shop backing onto the stream. I didn't see the plans but I can almost imagine them with 'existing trees to be retained' written by the architect across this green corridor. Within a few months the trees at the back of the building had been felled.
Perhaps the stream will be culvetted, as it has already been just across the road.
As I mentioned the other day, a lumberjack once said to me 'trees and people don't mix'.
This place is breaking my heart.
'Good Afternoon; my name is Vaida, I am a student of art from Lithuania. I have been walking around this area today. I have some paintings and some cards that I have made.'
This is so confusing. I'm used to jack-the-lad types with clipboard's coming to sell me double-glazing and fascia boards but Vaida takes me by surprise. We've got a Russian friend so at first I wonder if this is someone she's sent around to meet us, then it crosses my mind it might be someone I've met on the internet (but I've never heard from anyone in Lithuania).
I look at the cards but they're impossibly pretty folk-inspired designs of perfect ponds, trees and old buildings (so just the sort of thing they're doing their dammedest to irradicate around here then).
'They are real flowers' she points out.
Richard Bell, email@example.com