In recent weeks I have noticed sandbags against all the garden gates, walls, and fences in Kigsbury’s Lane. This morning I saw why. The lane was full of water and impassable, either for cars or pedestrians. To compound the problem, one of the gardens contained a burst water main. As an alternative route through to the river, I tried King’s Arms Lane and was able to arrive at the other end of Kingsbury’s. Here I met a woman called Barbara, who had grown up in the corner house I had just photographed. She told me that her family’s particular corner had always been subject to flooding but the whole street had never suffered so. The saturated green opposite, called The Bickerley, is a fairground venue. When Barbara was small she had watched the fairs from her window, wishing she had the money to attend them. I accompanied her along the Bickerley finding the least muddy and waterlogged terrain together. She asked about conditions at Minstead because her daughter was driving down from Scotland to visit her father-in-law who lives there. I was able to reassure her.
Had the Trailway not been raised significantly from the normal river level, I doubt that I would have been able to walk along it. The Avon and the millstream were pouring into the lakes that had been the neighbouring fields, which were now totally submerged. Water fowl were in complete possession of the field from which I had recently seen horses being rescued. Twitchers with binoculars were gazing at the birds in their unaccustomed habitat. Photographers were out in earnest. One young woman carrying a tripod, trailing behind a man with an immensely long lens, was amused when I quipped: ‘so you get to carry the tripod’. ‘Yes. That’s my job for the day’, she replied. Had I been ultra sensitive I might have felt the little appendage hanging around my neck to be rather inadequate.
Quite a cluster of cameras were gathered at the point where the Trailway bridges the river Avon. Here there was a group of waterbound ponies struggling to find fodder. They were feeding as well as they could on a few clumps arising from the bank of the Avon. Their feet were in comparatively shallow water; just beyond their noses the river rushed past. With other watchers I speculated about whether they could swim across the river where there was some still dryish land. One looked as if he were contemplating it but thought better of it. A group of young people sporting RSPCA insignia hurried to the scene and continued on past. They said the horses were the reason for their attendance. I wasn’t sure where they sped off to.
This evening Becky, Flo and Ian arrived to stay for Christmas. It is actually Flo’s birthday, which she shares with Oliver. The opening of our present to Flo caused a certain amount of amusement. We gave her a Pleo, which is a robotic dinosaur. The first reaction came from her brother Scooby. Scooby is a Jack Russel terrier who has undergone a head transplant. For the uninitiated this is my way of indicating that his head seems to be too big for his body. Showing a certain amount of jealous insecurity, Scooby approached first me. then Ian, the two least doggie people in the room, for succour. When Flo discovered that the instruction leaflet was in various European languages other than English, Ian suggested that his failed German O level might be of some use. Becky and Flo found this amusing.
Later we dined on Jackie’s beef stew followed by bread and butter pudding and Florence’s birthday cake. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, Ian Peroni, Becky fizzy water; and my choice was Dino sangiovese 2011.