It is, I think, one of the unacknowledged small pleasures of rural life: going down to the river to see where the water level is at the ford (see also: checking out the height of the waves crashing over the sea wall). If you don’t have a ford, any river level will do, particularly if it’s prone to flooding rich people’s houses,* but fords are best.
There’s a touch of the Charlie Browns about it, but the fact is, there’s not much other consolation to having day after day of rain than the prospect of a little light flooding as long as that flooding is happening somewhere else. And when the rain stops – or even if it hasn’t – you can walk down and go and see what the score is. We’ve even had a little sweepstake going – guessing what the level will be as we round the final corner, with the winner being the closest. So far we’ve not done much better than just under a foot, but it is high summer – not so long ago this spot was as dry as a bone.
I thought, to be honest, that this was just us but I bumped into a local guy out on my walk today and we got to talking about the ford, its highs (two feet, and still drivable, since you ask) and its lows. ‘It’s a funny thing,’ he said, completely unprompted, ‘but when it’s tipping down for day after day, you at least get this thought at the back of your mind: I wonder what the level of the ford is. And then when it stops, you can go down and see.’
*when we lived in Maidenhead this was in fact the primary winter entertainment. We had to make our own fun in those days.**