Friday, 24 July 2009

Hard rain's gonna fall

Well it didn’t rain on St Swithun’s day, as it happened – which is just as well as Coffee Pots had scheduled their annual summer outing for that day. However it has rained at some point every day since, and the forecast is – let’s say – less than hopeful. There is, however, a silver lining to these dark grey and billowing storm clouds as far as I’m concerned; our friends the Joneses have decided not to camp at Womad this weekend, so that means we don’t have to. We can’t camp without the Joneses, because they have a portable stove and we don’t. They also remember to bring things like towels and coolboxes and torches and spare inflatable pillows, which we invariably forget.

I’ve been treated to mutinous faces at breakfast every day this week as it gradually got wetter and wetter, and I pointed out that I really didn’t think it was a good idea to pitch a tent five miles up the road if we really didn’t have to. Apart from anything, there’s the hygiene facilities to contend with. For some reason, the words ‘swine’ and ‘flu’ keep popping into my head every time I think of the combination of 20,000 people from all over the world and about 30 portaloos with no running water or proper handwashing facilities. I know it’s wrong of me and probably hugely politically incorrect, but I do. It's no joking matter, though - someone from one of the villages nearby died of Swine Flu last week.

It’s interesting, though, how localised the weather seems to be. The forecast for Friday was hard rain all day, yet when I looked out, the garden was dry and there was barely a cloud in the sky. By the time we got to Malmesbury, though, there was rain of biblical proportions gushing down onto the roads and welling up in the gutters. When I got back to Lea, about 20 minutes later, the roads were bone dry and there was no sign of anyone even with an umbrella. The rain did get here, eventually, though. I was cleaning the church with Anne later that morning, and the most humungous storm broke out, gushing through the roof at the font-end and cutting off the electricity for a few minutes. It was all very dramatic until Anne produced a plastic bucket from the cupboard behind the pulpit and the gushing dwindled to a sporadic clattering.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

St Swithun's Day

A removal van turned up this morning. I thought it must have got lost, at first, and taken a wrong turning down our lane, then I remembered our neighbours, Jane and Guy were leaving today. Guy has been the rector here for nearly 27 years. They’re not going very far – to Draycott Cerne, Kilvert country proper – but I’m sure it’ll be a wrench. It seems the Church has rules about clergy – once they’re retired, they have to move at least two miles from the benefice. It doesn’t seem to matter that the village isn’t getting another rector; at least not one who lives here – rules is rules. It’ll be odd not having them around. I know that life goes not backward, nor tarries with yesterday, but sometimes I wish it would tarry just a bit.

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The allotments are looking particularly lovely this year. More plots than ever are being cultivated, the clover’s up and everything is growing like crazy. I think the prize for the prettiest allotment at the moment goes to Sarah, in the corner, with her waving hedge of cornflowers and Californian poppies – clouds of cobalt, red and gold – and a tubby little wigwam of sweet peas. Clare’s at the top – at least I think it’s Clare’s – is lovely, too, with its gold nasturtiums and scrambling runner beans in scarlet flower. And I do like Janice’s bunting. Funny how it’s the girls I’ve picked out. Philip’s very good at dahlias, usually but I think the slugs got to them this year.

There’s been another attack of Asbo animals. Bernard had had a mole, which he’s been trying to divert towards Trevor’s plot with an ingenious plastic-bottle device, but the mole’s having none of it. Up he keeps popping between Bernard’s cabbages. Meanwhile, Dick came down to his plot one morning to find a grass snake wedged in one of his wire cloches. The snake seems to have spotted a toad among the lettuces, dived in through one of the holes in the chicken wire, guzzled the toad, only to find it was now trapped by dint of a large, toad-shaped bulge too large to slither back through the chicken wire. Dick somehow managed to squeeze the toad out of the snake’s mouth and freed the snake, who took one look at what was left of his breakfast before slithering off. I'm not at all sure I'd have fancied any breakfast after that, either.

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St Swithun was a champion of the poor and needy who lived in ninth-century Wessex.

I wonder whether it’s going to rain today?