Sunday, 29 April 2012

Watery reflections

I make no secret of it. My wife is amazing. Not only is she lovely, but she also makes things beautiful around me. I myself am pretty much of a lost cause. At the moment she is in the middle of redecorating our downstairs toilet, which I managed to spoil with blu-tac not long after moving here. It's already looking brighter. Meanwhile seedlings are popping up in the conservatory, ready to be planted out when the warm weather comes to stay.

The garden is experiencing its remarkable miracle of returning to life, with young shoots, and lime green leaves, and blossom. This year, despite being in a designated drought area (!), the bog garden is doing particularly well. The kingcup, or marsh marigold as Gardeners' World chose to call it, is in its element. It's never flowered so abundantly or been so luxuriant - hardly surprising since the bog water is overflowing onto the lawn!

I appreciate the reason that the authorities are so scared of ending the declaration of drought, but it must make us Brits look fairly ridiculous as traffic around here gets stranded in flood-water and the spring grass is as lush as ever - the expression "plashy meadows" springs to mind! This afternoon we were making for the admirable Horse and Jockey in Stanford, which is deservedly included in this year's 2012 Good Pub Guide. On the way we went through various section of running and standing water to and beyond Denchworth. Before long of course the floods will drain away, seeping down to replenish the depleted water-table. I reflected, as Jane navigated through the pools and streams, on the plans to build nearly 6,000 new houses around Grove. I'm in favour of providing people with homes, but to be frank I don't believe the council's and developers' undertakings about drainage. I don't doubt that they'll drain surface water effectively into gullies and culverts, from where it will rapidly flow into the brook, thence to the Thames - and out to sea. That leaves suppliers of the aquifers, such as the flood plain through which we drove and on which they plan to build more the majority of the housing, denuded of their modus operandi. I really don't believe this guff about porous tarmac and paving-stones.
Stanford Church: NOT railings outside the vicarage!

It was nice to be back in Stanford. Jane read to me yesterday a news item about Jeremy Clarkson losing a court case to close the coastal footpath going past his Isle of Man home (which happens to be a lighthouse). I mention it because millions of people of course have footpaths going close to their windows. Beyond the vicarage wall in Stanford there was the main spinal path from the houses in the north to the shops and school in the south. It gave a lovely view into our dining room, where we ate all our meals, twenty yards away - not that people bothered much. Many many homes, of course, face directly on to the street, so that the curious could press their noses against the windows. The absurdity of the Clarksons' attempted closing of a legal footpath is that it has now put the lighthouse into the news headlines and onto the tourist map. Maybe they'll have to resort to their Oxfordshire retreat for the privacy they crave. And anyway, have they never heard of net curtains?

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