It was one of those typical, lowland Scottish summer days. Yesterday, I was stripped to the waist, ruddy as the tilled earth, basking in the physical labour, smell of fresh manure, and sweat-stuck with chaff from the harvest. Today, though, peering from the milking shed, just after dawn, listening to the Agincourt-like barrage constantly beating the corrugated roof, piercing the silence, churning those fields to slush, it was time to bring in the coos. My yellow, rubberized cagoule was as much use as muslin in that gale; my socks already sponging in my boots. And that’s when Robbie uttered those immortal words: “Och, av sinnit worrse!” So out we went. It was quite bracing, really. And I actually love the rain. (Or I did when I was young. Today my arthritic neck is not so fond – unless it is warm wetness.)
Although it was a beautiful day, to begin with, following the track of the Avon, yesterday, readily ushered forth Robbie’s exclamation, over and over again, in my head. Although the river had gently overflowed, it was nowhere near as bad as Autumn 2012 (when the Greenway appeared a little like Lyme Regis’ famous Cobb – twisted and isolated above the newly-formed lakes and tributaries); and those buffers – such as the Rec and the fields beyond Seven Meadows Road; as well as the scrub behind the Holiday Inn – although readily saturated, had done their job as flood plains, and helped protect the main town. (We are so fortunate that these areas have not been built on; and that Stratford’s ‘centre’ is all on one side, above the river.)
I had watched the gauge peak overnight; and thought I would explore – especially as I had a mild migraine that had not responded to bed nor med. I thought the chilly breeze might help. There is also a deep beauty to be found observing nature (although probably egged on by man’s atmospheric pollution) reclaiming the land; frolicking beyond its usual bounds – especially at the confluence with the troublemaking Stour. (Although I do feel sorry for the farmers’ flooded fields; and the owners of properties suffering yet again.)
However, a short walk – like the river itself – evolved into a longer meander: with none of my usual crossing places readily accessible. (I should have known better, and worn wellingtons – and not my wonted walking boots.) Even the footbridge beyond Holy Trinity was isolated: water flowing steadily past each end of its steps. Continuous lines of wrack showed that the water, thankfully, was already in retreat (and has further dropped a couple of feet in the last day).
It was good distraction, though – yet no cure – and, hopefully, the resulting tiredness will bring well-earned sleep. (It didn’t.)