Whatever the weather...

Since I moved to Bibury, the weather has alternated between torrential rain, howling gales and fog, with the occasional glimpse of sunshine, usually in late afternoon when I am driving due west.
I enjoy weather. I love watching storms, I don't mind being out in the rain (as long as I'm not on my way to work, or some event at which I have to look smart), and the first snow of winter still seems as magical as it did when I was a child.
In the country, however, you are far more aware of the power of the weather and its ability to wreak havoc frighteningly quickly. Here's the entrance to Bibury Trout Farm, on the River Coln, which runs through the centre of the village. In summer, the "dimpling stream runs laughing by", as William Blake put it. Today, swollen by days of endless rain, it was a ferocious torrent, submerging the footbridge that leads to the shop where I buy my newspaper.

The other day I had to drive my daughter back to Bristol University, a fairly easy journey of about an hour and a half. Just as we were about to approach the motorway, a "Road Closed" sign brought our route to an abrupt end, sending us on an odyssey across the sodden countryside. Every half a mile seemed to bring yet another flood to ford, the water rippling around my axles.
I could tell my daughter was a bit apprehensive, so I had to pretend this was the sort of thing that happened every day. (As indeed it is, at the moment!) But at one point we both let out a yelp of fear as a motorist travelling in the opposite direction roared past us impatiently, sending up a wave of water that washed right over the roof of the car. Selfish scumbag. We got to Bristol safely, but my knees felt distinctly shaky by the time we arrived.
The following day, I went up to the Burford Garden Company (the poshest garden centre in Oxfordshire) to buy a log basket for my new wood-burning stove. They were having a Christmas shopping evening and the place was awash not with water, but with mulled wine, cider and various seasonal tipples. The rain had stopped, blown away by high winds, which whipped at my scarf and hood as I got out of the car.
Normally, I don't need any encouragement to spend hours browsing around a garden centre, even without mulled wine and samples of cheese, but the wind - and the thought of fallen trees - sent me scurrying home with my log basket and a car full of wood and kindling. At times like this, at home on Awkward Hill seems the best place to be.


  1. This is turning out to be quite the adventure, dear Victoria! The fireplace looks inviting and warm, and now that you have firewood, things should be nice and cozy. The best idea you ever had. Yes.

  2. and the bronze grates set in the floor?

  3. I'm ready to pull up a chair. It looks so inviting. I was thinking about you as I was reading the news about the terrible flooding in England. watch out for those fords. We have them in Texas and they can sweep you away.

  4. Frances: Thank you! I'm really looking forward to Christmas, I have to admit. I think it will be a great house in which to have family times.

    Diana: the grates are for ventilation - previously, there was an open fire in the grate, which was lovely, but loses more heat up the chimney than a woodburner. I can close them, so that I don't get a draught. You have to have a carbon monoxide monitor here in the UK if you have a woodburning stove, so it's just as well to have as much ventilation as possible.

    Jenny: These were really huge puddles, where there was a dip in the road. Several people have been killed during the UK floods trying to ford rivers. I think motorists tend to think about the depth of the water, and not about the force of the current. If I was faced with a flooded river crossing, I think I'd just turn back!

  5. People tend to think that since it takes (approximately) two feet of flowing water to lift & float a car/SUV away, that anything less is drivable. They forget that it may take as little as 6 inches/15 centimeters to cause stalling as water enters the exhaust or cause a car to loose control.


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