For a moment think about what your favourite bridge and most functional fence would be?
In all our relationships and life situations it is important to build bridges and fences that enable us to travel over certain terrain and maintain boundaries around our homes. In this blog I want us to consider what bridges and fences we are constructing and holding on to. Then to consider where it might be prudent to update and review their effectiveness so as to ensure a healthy life, work and home balance.
The purpose of a bridge is to cross over a particular area of space. In design there are masonry and trussed arch bridges that include two piers which hold a deck to carry a road, canal (viaduct) or railway. A cantilever bridge is suspended and includes a counterbrace, portal frame and vertical member. In construction: a bridge may be supported by many arches and made of various materials such as stone, brick, concrete, iron, steel and wood.
My favourite bridge is the Tower Bridge in London which I have ran over three times whilst taking part in the London marathon. It is a suspension bridge built from 1886-1894 and constructed from stone and steel over the river Thames which is close to the Tower of London. The two towers house the basale pivots and its machinery, which open as a drawbridge to allow sailing ships to pass underneath.
Photo by John Smith Pexels.Com
My second bridge is the Menai suspension bridge that crosses the straits from Bangor to the Isle of Anglesey and was built by Thomas Telford in 1826. It was a great highlight for me to ride over it in 2012 having completed the journey from Manchester, in two days, with my good friend Trevor.
The Tyne Bridge would be my third choice. I have travelled over it a few times during the Great North run that included a visit from the Red Arrows. The arch bridge crosses the River Tyne and links Newcastle upon Tyne to Gateshead. It is a similar design to the Forth Bridge in Scotland and was opened by King George V in 1928 and acts as a symbol of Tyneside.
Photo by Anthony Holmes Pexels.Com
There are many other spectacular bridges in the UK and throughout the world in design, purpose and composition but the bridge I most frequently use is a local steel bridge that crosses the river Mersey in Greater Manchester.
As you approach the bridge on your left, the flow of the river is fast yet mainly smooth on the surface. Just under the bridge is a weir that controls the flow of the water. At that point the river becomes turbulent and continues its journey beyond the bridge where the flow of water settles down to its former state.
Crossing that bridge reminds me that we are constantly negotiating smooth, fast, and disturbed waters and then want them to become calm and peaceful. It is important to value those bridges that take us safely over troubled waters and not to ‘burn them’ too quickly which might leave us stranded at a later date with nowhere to go.
A fence acts as a border line separating one area from another. It is said that boundaries are some of the most disputed areas that people argue over. Many homes do not have fences but their walls represent a perimeter with doors acting as an access to and from them.
There are different types of fences that include upright poles with reeds, sticks and wattle or ones with barbed wire or sharpened upright pales. The fence may be temporary around a construction site or act as a picket fence or hoarding. They can be used as wooden stakes around a fortification, palisade, and stockade. A row of trees can help to restrict and act as a wind break and border line. A fenced area or enclosure is used for animals and known as a corral or paddock.
A few years ago I was renewing our house fence with the agreement of our neighbour and the help of my brother in law George. We dug the footings for two posts and set them in concrete. We placed two concrete slabs to act as a solid base and then inserted a waney lap fence, (1828mm x 15200mm) with a balustrade to complete the job. Subsequent maintenance work will be required alongside the replacing of an occasional fence.
At this time of year, in the Christian calendar, we engage in Shrove Tuesday and begin our spiritual reflection during Lent from Ash Wednesday, which prepares us for our Easter celebration. In the book of Exodus (chapters 12-14) we read about the Passover and the journey of the Israelites fleeing the ‘fence’ of slavery and a miraculous crossing over the parted Red Sea into the land of Canaan with new boundaries to establish.
In all our activities and reflections it is vital to build ‘relational bridges’ that enable us to cross over from one place to another. However, there will be times when it is necessary to close or draw up the bridge to preserve what we have.
Equally it is important to build and maintain fences that define our living and working boundaries. It is a fine balance, in the use of fences, to include where required or exclude for various personal, social and political reasons as exampled in China, Mexico and Berlin. (Check out my blog) Watch your Boundaries
So think about the bridges you have built? How are you using them when opened and closed and what, if any, changes and improvements you are bringing to them?
Similarly, think about the fences you have around you? In their inclusion and exclusion are they serving you well in maintaining appropriate boundaries where required, in all your human interactions?
For further reading hit the links below for the second edition of my book Blog 51 (October 2020) in black and white or colour