21.7.07

Build me an ark!

Build me an ark! For the rivers have burst their banks, and we have no eggs. This is serious. Although maybe not as serious as my friend finding half the Evenlode river come to stay at her house (uninvited), and flood water in her kitchen cupboards. She has lived here all her life and cannot remember weather like it. It's as if Old Father Thames and his children have thrown a party which got slightly out of control. Nearby Brize Norton had the most amount of rainfall in recorded history; 4.6 inches. Yesterday it rained and rained and rained some more. It was so bad that the cats called a truce and in a moment of solidarity decided to share the sofa...


It was so bad that today Andy decided to dig up the remainder of his precious potato crops.


which one of these is not a potato, can you guess?

But, as I said, we did need eggs. And the egg place is a few miles away in another village. So this morning, Hercules and I ventured forth on a mission. Our normal route -


- was somewhat flooded. This is the Evenlode getting a bit leery after tanking it up all night. The same river which runs near my friends' house and popped in to say hello, without knocking at the door.

(click on picture for full technicolour panoramic experience)

It became apparent that the county's drivers were experiencing a rare experience - not being able to go where they wanted precisely when they wanted. I have this all the time, being a non-driver, and one likes it or, as my old dad used to say, one lumps it. An irate lady in an SUV asked me if I thought it was safe to cross (what do you think lady, the river is pounding over the road, the currents look treacherous, there's already a car stranded in the ditch - hmm...tough call). I replied that no, I didn't think so, not even (I had to add, inwardly grinning) in 'one of those', nodding at her silver tank.

In fact, as I returned up the hill and took an alternate route, the roads were full of righteously fuming people raging at the weather gods, clamping their foot on the accelerator to make up for lost time and whizzing past me at more mph than they strictly should have been. I took the path running past the woods, able to nip through minor floods where vehicles were struggling. The ducks at the deserted farm were rejoicing -


- and when we got to our destination...




...the village flock had enrolled in military service and were on parade. Left, right, left right, at the double!





I squelched onwards,past kids in wellies wading gleefully through pools of water, past the postman doing sterling service and passing on news door to door of the local floods - even in the age of the internet, this kind of first hand reporting is vital in our rural area. And so on to the egg place, not as picturesque as the rural idylls I see in certain lifestyle magazines, and all the better for it. It has geraniums, and clematis, a sleepy black labrador and a weather vane. So who cares about the plastic sacks and the baler twine?



It is self service. As long as you have gone through the initiation and people know who you are, you simply stroll across the yard, past the kennel...



...past the friendly doorstop...




...pop in to the outer hall, pick your eggs, and leave your money. A rather old fashioned, quaint form of shopping which relies entirely on honesty and trust. I always go for the ones with muck on, as they've been collected that very morning.






And so we returned through the swampy mire which is Oxfordshire at the moment, with our precious cargo of fresh eggs. Hercules has had to carry many things in his job as my personal chauffeur, and he prefers eggs to dead snakes. Tonight Andy and I will feast on potatos and eggs, and feel thankful that we have been spared the ravages of this bizarre monsoon season.




If this saga has not been enough, there are more flood pictures here and an extended account of the great egg chase.



Well, Well, Well, Who's that callin'?
Well, Well, Well, Hold my hand.
Well, Well, Well, Night is a-fallin',
Spirit is a-movin' all over this land.

Lord told Noah, Build him an ark,
Build it out of hickory bark.
Old ark a-movin', and the water start to climb,
God send a fire, not a flood next time.

(Peter, Paul and Mary, 'Well, Well, Well' which has to be one of my many favourite songs of all time)

37 comments:

julie said...

The river looks most menacing, it certainly seems to be reminding us how small and insignificant we humans are when stacked up against nature! Glad you found another route to get your eggs - I bet they taste good! No sign of the rain stopping anytime soon, I'm feeling glad that we live on a hill but my brother in law in Oxfordshire has not been so lucky - he's had a foot of water throughout his house and it looks like it's still rising! Good old British summertime!!

Cathy said...

I'm glad you're OK Gretel - long may it stay that way! I've been quite alarmed by some of the pics I've seen, so it's good yer out of harm's way.

Viggy la Q said...

I'm so relieved that you've been spared too much water. Fear not: tatties & gegs can sustain a lass and her chap in a yummy togetherness.

:)

Joy said...

I was wondering how you were getting on down there in the cotswolds, glad you are not too damp. Wish I could get my eggs like that instead of the local supermarket.

Steph said...

Oh mi gosh! and DANG! You have a deluge on your hands. Still...looks cozy at your place and the country side look completely charming despite the floods...now, that one panoramic photo was a little more on the "holy shit" side of things. I hope the skies dry up soon and the sun comes out. All of that rain should make the hills a delicious green....here they are brown and dusty....sigh.

tlawwife said...

Could you send a little of that our way?

One of the things I love most about when we visit England is that our friend gets up early and goes to a neighboring farm to get bacon and eggs to cook for our breakfast. Thanks for sharing the picture of where your farm eggs come from. I love the honesty system of buying eggs.

paula said...

oh my good god. Is that the road from Bruen abbey?
Certainly is a year for freak weather, what with all the snow drifts too, back in when ever it was. Hope every one is ok!

oh, and I LOVE the military ducks!

Sue said...

Blimey, glad you're alright, Gretel. Brother-in-law and his family were coming home from Cornwall and caught up in the 'avoiding-the-M5-by-going -the-back-routes-but-finding-that-everyone-else-had-the-same-idea' fiasco. Goodness knows what time they got home to Lincs. We venture down Cornwall this weekend in the trusty camper; hope things dry out a bit for the journey.
We had a similar trust system at a little house in Woodhall Spa, down the road. Worked brilliantly for years then the people decided to stop selling eggs and that was that. :-( Now we get freerange local eggies from the village shop.

Ash said...

Yee haaa! Wellies to the fore! It's less dramatic here. Front of the house is dry - back of the house is a quagmire and sadly our tatties have been submerged for too long and will not be edible. But we have eggs! (Wet and muddy hens, admittedly, but they are still laying, bless 'em!)
With good wishes for a drier time soon - and who knows, maybe the cats will have formed a bond...

the flour loft said...

Hi Gretel,
glad you've saved your tatties..and have enjoed reading about your egg collecting trip.
We were flooded last August and are only just getting straight again. We built a large tall veg bed earlier this year to protect the produce from being flooded and thankfully its worked so far.I am amazed by the extent of the floods this year and the many areas that have been affected. My heart goes out to all.
Oh to be a duck!
Love your blog and will be back for a good read.
ginny

~~ Melissa said...

I was just watching a Canadian tv news report about the rain there and then read your entry. Yours wins hands down!

Chris.P said...

Brilliant account of another day in the life of Gretel Parker.

I'm glad your house has avoided the deluge. And feel sorry for those who weren't so lucky.

Blossomcottage said...

My poor horse was up to her fetlocks in water yesterday morning, we had to remove the bedding from 8 stables, horrid mess, 30 mins after the rain stopped the water had all disappeared thankfully not like the poor folk in your area.
Blossom

natural attrill said...

I like the top photo of your cats avoiding each other.
We used to have 6 cats, and often they would all lounge together, it was difficult to tell where one started and another ended.
It certainly looks very wet where you are, not so bad here at the moment. Toby has gone camping in the Lake District, bet he's wet!
Penny.

lettuce said...

i'm so glad you are keeping dry, at least on the inside....

that pic. of the line of ducks is great!

carolyn said...

Pleased to see that you are still safe and sound and more importantly dry.

Francie of The Scented Cottage said...

Glad that Andy saved the 'taters.
Thanks for taking us on the adventure with you...such beautiful photos but I surely hope it doesn't get worse.
(( ))

tash said...

You know, the same problem you have in finding locally cheap and available produce, that I have with being able to use a bike - the roads we have around here are manned by boy-racers and are completely devoid of cycle-paths, as much as I'd love to cycle everywhere (I want to be environmentally friendly, not squashed!)!

Re your comment: As one way of sourcing local produce - do you have a veg-box scheme? I know they are changeable from place to place, my mother has an award-winning one, cheap and amazing quality, but Rowan posted on my blog that her local box-scheme was poor quality so she stopped it. Just a thought - and at £10 a week it's often reasonable to do that. Is there anywhere that does farmgate sales of veg? We have a place near us that does that too. Just some ideas :)

You potatoes look fantastic - good luck drying out a bit!

John said...

I've not been able to up with the UK news these past couple of weeks, so had no idea how bad things are with floods in your neck of the woods until now.

I'm glad you're holding on, I just read that power cuts are widespread and supplies of fresh water are scarce...(ironic considering all the rain!)

Hold on in there.

I know this is no consolation but here in Japan we're suffering one of the longest and wettest rainy seasons for years.

John

Cotswoldgent said...

How do you do it? You turn what looks to be a flood disaster in to a wonderful descriptive story about collecting eggs. I'm green with envy, your writing abilities are brilliant, pictures too! However, I think even you'd have a problem collecting eggs down our way at the moment.

tlc illustration said...

Hope the rain is easing up! We're seeing our first sunny afternoon in days (which is very unusual for the PNW this time of year. My remaining raspberries aren't too happy). 'Still so cool out that I may have to put a sweater on. Weird. Two weeks ago we were so hot that we had to practically spend the afternoons lying on the floor trying not to move.

I loved your first picture with all your cats. Your room there looks like many of mine -with books tucked into every possible corner. :-)

Soozcat said...

My word, that is a bit of rain. Any more and you're going to want one of those water tricycles to fetch your eggs. (Or at least the postman will want one.)

Hope all is well there.

Country House Antique Textiles said...

So glad you are ok Gretel although I hear today that Oxford is due for more flooding. Gorgeous pictures and your descriptions are delicious as usual :-)

LittleBrownDog said...

Wow, pg, is about all I can say! That water is pretty impressive.
Also, I'd like to add how much I admire you for not driving - it must be quite a challenge, sometimes, living in the country (although times like this must be a great leveller).
I'm glad to hear you're not suffering too much as a result of all the water. I hope your friend's house dries out before too long.

Chitweed said...

Wow. We've been hearing all about the the weather over your way on the news in the states. None of the pictures they've shown make the impact yours do.
Through it all, your Gretel-ness shines thru. Arks, eggs, Hercules, ducks, and wellies. You are such a wonderful writer.
I wish you a stretch of a dry weather.

Libbys Blog said...

I've popped over today and theres been even more rain, hope your ok!!??

weirdbunny said...

I've been watching the floods on the telly. There seems to be two camps in all of this the excited people in wellies and boats venturing the elements then, and the ones who are just too flooded to be having fun.

I'm gald your in the excited catergory and haven't got a flooded house, just roads.

You'll have too get yourself some chickens, I'm surprised a country girl like you hasn't got any. But then you wouldn't have need to go and get eggs from the farm, which looks like such a delightful adventure each day - love Julia x

Joanna said...

I do hope your staying nice and warm and dry.

Marianne said...

I hope things are drying out a bit over there now. I've been wondering how you and Andy have been getting on. And you've done a wonderful job of turning a mucky inconvenience into a great adventure. You should write more for kids. :-D

I'm glad you guys are okay, and cozy in your cottage.

Thanks, John. I'll be in Japan next month - hopefully it'll be a bit drier.

Now, I'm off back to editing my dino book.

Cheers, ducks
Marianne

Tea & Margaritas in My Garden said...

Glad you`re safe there. We`ve heard from relatives ablout all this as well as on the news. Here in Ontario Canada we`ve not had hardly any rain. When it does rain it only last for a few minutes. Very strange.
Love the cats on the couch. Books and cats. The perfect picture. Please show more of your home sometime. It looks so cozy! I loved looking at all your pictues, floods and all. The ducks are priceless LOL My Mum used to sell tomatoes at the end of our drive on your honour. And 9 out of 10 people were very honest she found with putting the money in the tin.

tea
xo

Barb said...

I can't begin to imagine what devastation would result from having flood waters rise up to your kitchen cupboards and I hope that for your friend's sake, it stops there. Your photos have given us all a real view of the flooded English countryside and I'm glad that the worst thing you've had to deal with is soggy potatoes.
I'm in the middle of reading Barbara Kingsolver's latest book ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE and I would love to be able to hop on my bike and collect eggs the way you do...that kind of lifestyle is exactly what she's describing.
I have my fingers crossed for sunshine on English soil.

John Nez said...

Looks like one heck of a flood...

Rain, rain go away... come again some other day!

Here in the northwest we get salmon swimming across the roads during the flooding.

Interesting to read that Japan is also having record rains... as are we here in the northwest.

Must be the global warming thing... though I don't think any scientist really is smart enough to fully understand the weather.

Nice looking eggs!

:0)

jn

Connie said...

You always make me feel like I am exactly there with you!! I almost felt tired.lol Such great photos.
Love the one with the marching ducks.

Stay safe and take care,
Hugs,
Connie

Merisi said...

I have heard and read about the terrible floods in GB while travelling and was worried about you. I am glad to find you dry, and now even supplied with fresh egg from that great supermarket at the hen house! :-)
I am sitting here in the early morning, window open even though it's only 20°C. Sheer habit, after what seems like months of temps in the thirties, Vienna was rejoicing in a night and a day of rain yesterday (well, writing "window open" made me realize it can actually stay closed, and close it I did *g*).
Big hug from Vienna,
wishing you lots of sunshine,
Merisi

OldBagNewTricks said...

Such treachery at hand to fetch eggs.... you and Hercules are very brave. You have taken some grand pictures to share with us -- I especially enjoy the marching ducks.

My comforts also to your friend with the visiting river.

Jenny

hopeforafrica said...

Hi PG,
happy that you are ok. This reminds of what we went through in Kenya sometime back.

Did you see the plant I put on the page today (dried) completely. Because I went on holiday and my landlady went on her business trip leaving everything to the sun.
Never mind, Im leaving Romania in about a week and will be in Italy 2 more weeks then off to Bangkok.

I hope the rains have calmed down somehow, I love the pictures.
Have a good day!!!!
Mary

hopeforafrica said...

Hi again,
thanks for the advice. I hope it works, will give it a try.
Hugs