More November Sunday Musings

This past week has been dominated by the weather. To be specific, rain. Relentless rain, day and night for days on end. I wrote about it on a blog post, and despite a dry day on Saturday, it started again overnight. As well as being unpleasant and affecting my mood, it has caused chaos further north, with flooding in Eastern Scotland causing the death of a woman who was swept into a river in Aberdeenshire. I really don’t want to hear one more person say, “It’s good for the garden”.


Otherwise, it has been an unremarkable week in Beetley. I have stuck to my routine, and so has Ollie.


There was a government ‘Financial Statement’ during the week that basically announced tax rises for everyone, and a windfall tax on some oil companies. We were told to expect austerity and slow growth, and some ‘difficult decisions’ to come until the next election. This from a Prime Minister with a personal fortune exceeding £30 million, five houses, a bilionare wife, and a salary of £162,000 that he should really give away to charity, as he doesn’t need it. And from his sidekick Chancellor, a man on a salary of £153,000, plus expenses up to £200,000 in addition to that. Austerity is not something those people will ever comprehend.


Julie has been baking, making Bread Pudding. It is delicious. Readers outside of the UK may never have heard of this cheap-to-make cake, so here is what it looks like, with a recipe.


Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope you have a very enjoyable Sunday.


Nature 1, Pete 0

After what seems like week after week of relentless rain here, I went to bed last night listening to yet more torrential downpours.

I had long-ago started to wonder if weather like this can seriously ruin your life, and I conclude that it can. It saps my enthusiasm for anything, and makes me want to shut myself away inside and do nothing. Knowing I have to take Ollie out in miserable wet and dull weather every day has made me dread the time when I have to get ready, and see him excited to go out.

Constant cleaning of muddy wet paw-prints on the kitchen floor, doormats so wet they never dry, and a damp dog all evening, despite my best efforts to dry him off. Nothing to see out of the windows except more rain running down them, and having to have all kinds of different pairs of shoes at strategic places to avoid walking-in the wet leaves that I have to trudge through.

I went out to the shed this morning to get something, and walked into a two-inch deep puddle where it had flooded inside overnight, due to the overloaded water table in the ground. The concrete floor has soaked up as much moisture as it can, and is now leaking it like a wet sponge.

As it is still pouring down outside, I have no inclination to even begin to try to sort it out today. So I just closed the door and came back inside, totally and utterly fed up with it all.

It is literally too much for me to cope with mentally. Too much water, too much constant rain. It seems we no longer have seasons. Just rain, summer and winter.

I’m just sick to death of it, and I really am at the end of my tether.

So much for ‘Merry Christmas’.

Getting serious…

After yesterday’s lighthearted piece about mud, the torrential rain arrived late last night, as forecast. It has now been raining solidly for more than twelve hours here, and the whole place feels awash. The house has the impression of being surrounded by a moat, (not really) as water flows into the side entrance, and runs off the garden onto the patio. The gutters just cannot cope, so they overflow, adding to the deluge.

But there’s worse to come. Opening the large shed, we discovered it was flooded, up to a depth of almost two inches. Regular readers will remember that this has happened before, and it is always a real trial. This is a brick-based substantial building, added as an extension to the garage, by the previous owner. It is invaluable for storage, and we also have two freezers and a tumble-dryer installed out there. When the water seeps up through the ground onto the concrete floor, we face the possibility that the electrics will blow, and we will lose all the food, and the capacity to dry washing. Not to mention the cost of replacing three items of expensive electrical white goods.

The shed was built with a large concrete lip at the bottom of the door, to stop water getting in. This unfortunately works in the opposite direction too, meaning that all the excess water cannot be swept out. This leaves one weapon in my limited arsenal of water removal. Brushing the water into a dustpan, and flinging it out of the door. Each scoop is less than a cupful, so you can imagine how long it takes. Before attempting this, everything stored on the floor of the shed has to be moved outside. As it is still pouring with rain, this could not be done, so it all had to be dragged into the adjacent garage instead. This car-free zone, already full of the goods from two previous lives, is now at maximum capacity.

Once the deeper water is removed, I get to start on the worst part. This means getting onto the floor, with a selection of old towels, dustsheets, and anything else absorbent, and physically mopping the residue using the cloths. This is cold and wet of course, and hard on the knees. The sodden sheets and towels then have to be put straight into the washing machine, and spares placed around the base of the freezers and tumble-dryer. This is in the somewhat forlorn hope of stopping water getting underneath, if it floods for the second time later today.

The rest of this afternoon will be spent nervously inspecting the shed floor, and washing out all the soaked towels ready for the next time. Then later tonight, I will have trouble sleeping, anticipating the whole thing happening again tomorrow.

Country living. Ain’t life grand?

Back to normal

The good weather didn’t last after all. Much of the country has been hit by snowstorms. Airports are closed, trains are not running because of overdue engineering works, and we in Beetley were hit by a night of torrential rain, followed by hailstones at lunchtime. With one and a half days of the festive season still to run, life is pretty much back to normal.

As you might be aware, Norfolk is the driest county in England. That’s official. So you won’t be surprised to learn that we had a very bad flood in our shed again last night, caused by groundwater with nowhere else to go during the downpours. Wandering in there to get something this morning, I was shocked to discover 2-3 inches of freezing cold water sitting peacefully on the stone floor. It had seeped under the small freezer, but luckily was not high enough to short out the motor. The tumble drier was also safe, but my mood plummeted, as I knew that I had a big job on.

As this has happened before, I had made some precautionary defences, consisting of bundled-up dust sheets. They had been overwhelmed, and were sodden. Everything stored at floor level had to come out. The water cannot be brushed out, as there is a lip at the bottom of the door, to stop water getting in from outside. This stops me being able to brush it out from within. There’s an irony there somewhere that I don’t want to think about too much. Once the many items were removed and stored somewhere dry, (it was still raining…) I set about bailing out what water I could, using a dustpan. When this had achieved all it was going to, I then set to with towels. I used the towels that we normally use to dry the dog, then his blanket from the back of the car. These were nowhere near enough, and we had to resort to using our ‘reserve’ towels, ones that might be good enough for general use normally. We soon had a pile of grubby towels, drenched with freezing cold water. Julie started the long process of washing and drying them all, getting the first load into the machine.

I finished the job with paper towels, on my hands and knees, finally drying off the items that had been removed, before putting them back into the now very clean shed. Not for the first time, I considered that it might be better to demolish this building, and replace it with a boat of some sort. Trouble is, we would have a job getting the electrical items inside. After almost two hours of crawling around, kneeling in freezing water, on cold concrete, it was time to have a bath, and take Ollie for his walk. The meadow was a sea of mud; the small river had burst its banks, and was flowing like an Amazon tributary. The rear path was under water, so we had to head over to Hoe Rough, to make a decent walk of it. We found company with Oban and his owner, but much of the north side of the rough was under water too, so even walking over there was limited to the main paths.

I got back, pretty fed up, cold and damp, and pleased to be in.
I just thank my lucky stars that I live in such a dry county. It must be awful to live somewhere wet.

A Windy Walk

Saturday didn’t start too well. On a routine trip to the shed, to get a fresh light bulb, I noticed that almost half of the floor was under water, once again. Presumably, the recent torrential rain has raised the level of the ground water, and it is finding its way inside, though it is impossible to work out how. This meant a complete evacuation of all the stuff stored out there, to gain access to the floor, so as to be able to ascertain the extent of the small flood. Sodden cardboard packaging had to be thrown out, and numerous things re-packaged, in plastic containers that will resist the worst of the water. Many items had to be found a place in the adjacent garage, which is now almost full, with only a narrow access passage left.

Once the space had been cleared, the mopping up process could begin, using any old towels, dust sheets, and paper. When the area was dry again, I resolved not to put anything back there that could be damaged, so a complete sort out was necessary. I know that this is insignificant, when compared to the devastation caused by severe floods in the South-West of the UK, but when it is in your shed, and causing a nuisance, it still seems like a big deal. After almost two hours of this chore, it was time to get ready to take Ollie out, for his later than usual walk. I decided to reward his patience, with a walk along the Wensum Way, to the back of the large pig farms, and around the plum orchards.

After ploughing through some muddy paths in Mill Lane, we emerged into the large area of open fields, home to a large plantation of recently pruned blackcurrant bushes. It was here that I discovered a new ‘enemy’ of the dog walker. Wind. Not a breeze, you understand, nor even something described as ‘blustery’, or ‘windy’. This was serious wind, a north-westerly coming at us like the back-draft of a jet engine. Flattening my long parka against my body, and whipping up stones and twigs, which clattered into and around me, as if hurled by some unseen poltergeist. Forward movement felt constrained, as if wading through deep water, and my eyes were soon streaming too. Turning my back for a brief respite, I felt that it would almost support my weight, if I leaned into it.

Ollie was oblivious, as he usually is. No extremes of weather ever seem to faze him, and his demeanour is the same, whether in torrential rain, or thick snow. If he noticed this wind, he certainly didn’t display any reaction to it, and carried on looking for rabbits, peeing up bushes, and trotting around, as if on a mission, only known to him. When he got thirsty, he took a drink from one of the pond-like puddles, and he ran on far ahead, sometimes looking back, to check that I was still there. When we reached the pigs, they sauntered over to the fence, no doubt hoping that I was a farm employee, bringing them more food. They all lined up to look directly at me, as their huge ears point forwards, and shade their peripheral vision, like blinkers on a horse.

When we finally arrived at Gingerbread Corner, I took the opportunity of a break. There is a large copse of tall trees, and they stop the wind from having the same effect that it enjoys across the open fields. Retracing the route towards home, I at least had the wind in my back, and this made walking much easier. I arrived home, pleased to be away from the constant buffeting. One hundred minutes seemed so much longer, when it was hard to hear yourself think, and each step felt like I was wearing diving boots. I am looking forward to a time of less extremes, ‘normal’ days, windy, or otherwise. The good walks will return, their time is just around the corner.