|The River Brue on Saturday - obligatory Tor in background photo|
La Villa Ramblanista has been spared the worst of the inundations, though the stream that runs past our backyard burst its banks and flooded the public schoolboys’ playing fields causing the wannabe rugger-buggers to go without on Saturday. But neither María Inés de la Cruz nor I like to miss out on the next big thing so we decided to step out into the soggy Somerset landscape and see for ourselves what all the fuss was about.
|A bridge over relatively untroubled water|
We spent most of Saturday evening preparing ourselves for the encounter, aided by several large gin and tonics. María read from One Hundred Years of Solitude in her mellifluous Salvadorean tones; the chapter where it rains in Macondo for four years, eleven months and two days. I showed her an episode of The Young Ones – Flood: just about sums up the gaping difference in our respective cultural aspirations. I don’t think María really got to grips with The Young Ones but when I said I spent a couple of years living in the suburb of Bristol where it was filmed she bombarded me with personal questions. She has something of an obsession with my youth, keeps asking me whether I really had a picture of Jon Bon Jovi on my bedroom wall and wants a detailed description of the contents of my wardrobe. ‘You’ll just have to wait for the publication of Death by Eyeliner, my shocking autobiography’, I told her and she sulked for the remainder of the evening.
|Not for us it ain't! These three words don't feature in the Ramblanista vocabulary|
But I digress. By the time we’d got back from mass and argued about whether we’d go north, south, east or west – maps, of course, are for wimps – it had gone noon and the clouds were already rolling in; just as well we got a lift to North Wootton with the landlord and landlady of La Villa Ramblanista. At least we managed to agree on a strategy; it wasn’t a day to be squelching off across the waterlogged fields so we stuck to tracks and roads. Just as well, the rhynes were full and parts of the moor were under fifty centimetres of water.
|Geology porn: Yeovil Sands in holloway on Pennard Hill|
But the truth is that the reality didn’t really match up to the hype; they had it much worse around Taunton and Langport. Now don’t get me wrong, as an itinerant geography tutor I’m offering accused of getting off on other people’s misery, of having an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of tsunami death tolls but you know what they say about Japan being the best place to be when an earthquake strikes? Well you might say the same thing about the Levels and flooding. It’s almost as if some omnipotent deity created them for that purpose and that purpose alone; the moors lie only a metre or so above mean sea level and the structural geology tilts the strata in such a manner that only the construction of man-made drainage channels such as the Huntspill River and a network of pumping stations keeps the sea and the floodwaters in some form of abeyance. In any case, times change, even in the sexy but staid world of land management and wetlands, once the bane of the drainage engineer, are back in fashion.
|Random quaint Westcountry signpost porn|
A bit like the nineteen-eighties, I suppose. María listened patiently but her eyes only lit up when I started to talk about clyses. When she found out they had nothing to do with intimate sexual pleasure but were, in fact, sluice gates, we decided it was time to head back to the Cathedral City.
She led, I followed, isn’t it always thus?
|María thought this sign read 'Roads liable to grow breasts'. She spends far too much time in my company.|