November 19, 2012
Another month, another rain warning, and with heavy rain overnight continuing into the morning our main concern wasn’t so much the level of the ford as the level in the yard, but fortunately serious flooding was averted before we had to move the bikes to higher ground
Bigtown may not have been so lucky, if the SEPA alerts were anything to go by. There was some excitement on Twitter when someone found the Bigtown webcam showing major flooding along the river until someone pointed out that the Bigtown webcam had been showing major flooding along the river since 2009, when the major flooding reached the webcam and broke it. This tells you pretty much everything you want to know about how connected we are up here.
But that’s not what you want to know, you want to know what the level is on the ford. And of course I slogged down there as soon as the rain had stopped to check for you. Not soon enough to catch the water at its height, if the high water mark on the road is anything to go by. And of course they haven’t fixed the depth gauge yet so the answer is I don’t know. (Apologies for the quality of the pics: cameraphones and dull November afternoons don’t really mix)
I wonder if it would be an unwarranted abuse of my position on the community council to press for the ford depth gauge to get replaced as a matter of urgency? All in the interests of road safety, naturally…
for anyone feeling that the ford update service is lacking in these parts I’m grateful to @Cha0tic on twitter for this link
October 18, 2012
I feel somehow that four years’ obsession with the level of the ford was vindicated this morning when a driver pulled up to ask us if we knew how high it was (he being on the side of the river where the sign was broken) before he risked crossing.* If all else fails, a useful career as human depth gauge beckons – or perhaps FordCam is after all an idea whose time has come.
Meanwhile this tweet proved premature yesterday:
We had my aunt and uncle staying last night and by the time they had had arrived, had a reviving cup of tea and a bun and settled in, the road was fully flooded again. By this point it didn’t matter what the drains were doing: the water was so high it was draining off the road through the gaps between the stones in the dykes. Our guests having somehow neglected to bring waders (despite reading the blog), we decided against checking the level of the ford and retreated to spend the evening by the woodburning stove.
Today, after creating an extremely satisfying bath-emptying type whirlpool with my trusty stick, I attempted to clear the drains out properly, much to the amusement of the passing postman. As he pointed out there’s not much you can do when there’s basically a burn emptying itself onto the road faster than any culvert can clear it. That said, he’s not averse to doing the council roads department’s jobs for them either: it turns out that it was he who cracked and removed the ‘ford closed’ sign after 7 months and returned it to the depot (I did think at the time it was a bit quick), while it was a local farmer and his tractor that removed the latest tree. Perhaps we could get together with some paint and a ruler and sort out another depth gauge …
He then handed me our letters and the neighbour’s and asked me if I’d mind delivering them for him to save him going up the drive. Which I did. Other people’s jobs are always so much more entertaining than your own.
So if anyone would like to finish rewriting my book for me while I go out and clear some culverts, please get in touch. I’ll be the one up to my welly tops in water, poking things with a stick.
*Nine inches; he made it across with no problems
July 7, 2012
I’ve been watching the weather fairly anxiously recently because the local cycle campaign have long been planning a series of family-friendly easy summer rides, starting today. This was beginning to look spectacularly ill-timed, given that we are apparently having the wettest spring and summer in the history of ever, with the Met Office issuing weather warnings on a daily basis and the radio awash with tales of streets awash and apocalyptic pronouncements of doom and gloom arriving with every weather bulletin.
And yet … and yet … yes, we’ve had a fair bit of rain recently, I’ll grant you that. And yes, I’ve even taken to heading out on the bike on drizzly days because although I have long been a fair weather cyclist, the only thing worse than riding your bike in the rain is not riding your bike at all, and that was beginning to look like the alternative. But then again, it’s not (whisper it) been raining all that hard around here, compared to some places. And in fact (whisper it again), yellow warning or no yellow warning, it didn’t really rain at all yesterday. In fact, so far, the weather was worse last year and we haven’t had to sit indoors watching the rain trickle down the windows while hearing all about the terrible heat wave they were having down south. Could it be (whisper it once more) that it’s only a dreadful apocaplytic flood-ridden summer when it affects London in some way?
This morning I woke in the early hours to thunderous rain. The Met Office was excelling itself with amber warnings covering most of Scotland. It was a louring dark gloomy grey drizzly morning. My twitter feed was filling up with tales of floods and downpours and cancelled events. It was not boding well. But the drizzle stopped and the dark grey became slightly less dark and finally quite bright grey which in a moment of optimism I rebranded as actual sunlight. By the time I was ready to pedal into Bigtown there was enough blue in the sky, as they say, to make a sailor a pair of trousers. And by the time I arrived, we could have outfitted the entire fleet.
It was, in fact, glorious
We even managed to have our post-ride cafe stop outside
I’m not 100% sure how we managed that, but we did. Now we just have to repeat the trick every Saturday afternoon until the end of August. That might take a lot of sacrificial goats, especially now I’ve posted this…
July 2, 2012
As someone pointed out, somewhere, possibly twitter, maybe even in an actual conversation, the great benefit to having ordered celeriac seeds is that they like wet summers, thereby guaranteeing EITHER an unusually dry summer OR, at least, lots of celeriac.
Unfortunately what they failed to anticipate was the third alternative which was that the celeriac would all get munched by the slugs – the last one gave up the ghost yesterday – during the course of the wettest summer since the history of time, or last year, depending on your perspective. This was partly my fault because I didn’t plant them out before we had our one week of hot dry weather and we went away for the weekend so they weren’t looking too clever when I did get them out in the beds and then they all succumbed one by one to either damping off or being chomped. Either way, it means I have a whole bed left empty and it’s a bit late to start sowing most things now. Any suggestions for late starting crops that like a soggy climate? Watercress? Rice? Water Hyacinth?
Still, looking on the bright side, she says determinedly, at least it turns out that buzzards don’t like to fly in the rain. Cyclists don’t particularly like to cycle in the rain either, but it’s – just – preferable to being swooped upon by an enraged bird and I made it to the papershop and back today soggy but unscathed. I have to take my win-wins where I can find them, these days…
June 18, 2012
It’s been a hell of a week, what with one thing and another, the sort of week that I felt it was only fitting when the weather Gods decided to top it off with two solid days of heavy rain.
So far so routine – so routine indeed, I didn’t bother to take my camera when we went down yesterday to see how far the waters had receded, hence the camera phone pictures. But more fool me, for that’s when we saw that not only had the footbridge been repaired at last:*
But the depth gauge had been bent into uselessness. Its rivets had popped, and it had just been swept aside by the force of the water, helpless to do anything about it.
I think I know just how it feels.
*the ‘ford closed to pedestrians‘ sign, I need hardly tell you, is still in place albeit getting a little overgrown these days
June 15, 2012
… before congratulating yourself on having staked your broad beans before the worst of the weather, remember that broad beans can fall over in *any* direction, not just in their rows.
Still, on the positive side, the depradations of the slugs earlier means that I have miraculously ended up with exactly the right number of cut-and-come again lettuces of different varieties to supply us with a steady harvest of salad leaves at about the rate we want to eat them. That won’t happen
*I was going to call this blog post ‘flaming June’ only to find that I’ve used the title before. Twice. Miserable weather in June is in fact normal. It’s just that we always remember June as being endlessly sunny and warm…
April 16, 2012
Cycling down for the paper this morning on a day the Met office had cheerfully described as offering the ‘best weather for the week’, so only hailing a little bit, I couldn’t help but notice some of the lambs in one field were wearing what I can only describe as a tiny see-through lamb pac-a-mac.
I am certain that those of you out there who know about such things will be quick to tell me that it’s no such thing and that there are sound animal husbandry reasons why a lamb would have a clear plastic raincover on, but until that time I shall rejoice in the fact that there’s a farmer out there who’s even more soft hearted than I am.
Although, frankly, if it’s going to keep hailing, they’ll need something a little more robust. Maybe a fleece?
February 22, 2012
There are some mornings when you wonder whether it was entirely worth getting up. Not only was the weather hideous – undoing all of the last couple of weeks’ worth of reasonably dryish weather in one night – but when I did get up, bleary-eyed, to make coffee I saw the butter dish sitting out on the table. Thinking I’d be helpful, I moved it up to its normal spot on the shelf above the Rayburn – it’s the only way it remains spreadable rather than chiselable. As I put it up I dislodged a picture that was propped up on the shelf, saved the picture but failed to save the butter dish, which shattered into approximately a million pieces. Not only that, but I’d also managed to turn off the oil flow to the Rayburn, something we didn’t notice until it was too late, the burner was out and the temperature was dropping to the floor…
Fortunately, after an anxious wait for it to cool down enough so that we could relight it and a scrabble through the instructions, the other half managed to get it going and it seems to have forgiven us, for now at least and I have managed to go the rest of the day without breaking anything, which I’m counting as a win given the way it started. And I’ve reminded myself that the only thing I’m qualified to do before I’ve had coffee of a morning is make coffee and not attempt anything more complicated than that in future. The weather hasn’t exactly improved, but then there was a guy on the radio banging on about drought and how it needed to drizzle solidly for 6 weeks in order for water shortages to be avoided, but that was never going to happen. That’s just the sort of challenge the weather gods are hardly going to take lying down, is it? I just wish they’d improve their aim.
Still, weather or no weather – and it’s definitely not no weather out there at the moment – were I in London right now I’d be on this.
Best of luck guys
December 8, 2011
Because we are
I was supposed to be in Bigtown for a cycling meeting this evening (well, I say meeting, it’s in the pub) but by 4pm I’d had a bit of a failure of nerve. Although twitter was full of excitement about the weather further north, we weren’t quite having the sort of wind that rips wind turbines apart, takes out power lines and blows roofs off, but we have reached the point of sogginess where basically any amout of rain results in flooding pretty much everywhere. And I knew that between me and Bigtown there were at least two stretches of flooded road, one of which was outside our house, that I didn’t fancy navigating in the dark either on a bike or, frankly, in our car. But it didn’t seem exactly the Dunkirk spirit to cancel the meeting just because I was a bit of a wuss. In the end I took shelter behind the official police advice not to drive anywhere, possibly ever, just to be on the safe side, and called it off, feeling like I had wimped out, but relieved all the same. I’m going to have to get myself back on the bike (or remind myself how to drive) pretty soon, or I’ll be in hibernation until at least Februrary.
Still, it’s something to know that the storm I wimped out of riding through had got itself in short order its own hashtag, twitter feed, wikipedia page and exclusive line of merchandise. Something tells me the Scots aren’t quite taking this one with the seriousness it deserves.
Oh and the ford?
(You didn’t think I’d forgotten, did you?)
November 12, 2011
…But I would have thought that basic gutter installation might just possibly involve any newly installed gutters gently sloping downwards towards the drainpipe so that all the rain drains smoothly away as opposed to the gutters being bowed and sagging so that the rain gathers in the middle of the gutter, well away from any pesky drainpipes that might otherwie empty it, and instead pours over the top of the gutter and onto our bathroom windowsill making even a fairly non apocalyptic heavy shower sound like the precursor to the end of the world. But then, we do live in a part of the world where rain is pretty rare and so I suppose it’s understandable that gutter and drainpipe installation isn’t quite down to the fine art it might be in other parts of the country like, say South West Scot…
… oh no, hang on, wait…