Sunday, 19 December 2010

Christmas Letter 2010

Tom washed the kitchen floor yesterday and the colour of the water was similar to the colour of the water from the clearing up of the flood. It bought it home to me that how ever wonderful the clearing up process was, the evidence of its destruction is still on our streets; along with the sandbags and the bridge, we are still here.

I wrote the following at the time and then posted a less wordy account;-
Water, it is one of the greatest forces of nature; we all know this. One has seen the damage it can do on Wthe television, we know it in our heads. But when it rages out of control through the place were you live you know it in your heart.

Like Boscatstle our flood started on the higher ground surrounding our valley. They say between 2 and 3 inches fell in a short space of time and the trickle of water that bleeds out of the ground of the hill, and forms a pretty little stream that runs down beside Tanhouse Road, turned into a monster. A fearce and frightening monster that ripped boulders from the ground and cars from their parking place; that bursts through locked doors and leaved a calling card of thick sticky mud.

It was described to me as sounding like a volcano; it came in the dark of night turning a road into a torrent, rolling boulders and tossing them in the air as it tries to find its way to the river. Cars were carried away and discarded, as they piled up with scattered rocks, soil and tree branches to dam the way forward along the road; on it surges bursting through the front door of a house and out the back: there was no gate so the stones of the wall are exploded apart to be used as further ammunition by the water to smash and forces it way forward. It was as if it panicked when it reached the main road, another rush of water was coming from the stream that gives whispering Waters its name. It too has picked up souvenirs of it journey, pea shingle from the escape lane, which it carried all the way down to Quay Street. Being unsure of which way to go the water spreads out carrying its brown sludge through more locked doors spreading it murky waters into shops and houses. Finally it carried on down South Street continuing its destruction bursting open our back gates and depositing two inches of mud and flooding the little cottage next door. It pounded through the medieval arch with such force it hit the house opposite and rolled back on itself like a wave. More flooding occurred as the water spread out on the even ground along the river, up to waist deep at its worst. It was fast, furious and deadly.’house restoration,log burner

The advent windows progress day by day (I am number 13 this year) and the street Christmas trees are up and decorated with lights, I love that each shop (or in some cases private houses) are responsible for their own lights and therefore they are all different. It all underlines the fact the calendar is telling me, it’s that time of year again.

My Christmas letter has become an excuse for me to indulge myself the time to reflect on the year that has just passed and to record it as a kind of diary that I always enjoy reading at a later time. One of our great excitements is that after living in a house without an open fire for the first time in our lives, that has now been rectified and at last we have a log burner and warmth. As lovely as this is it is not our biggest or best excitement this year; that happened the day of our annual arts and crafts festival in May. As with other years I had offered my services and I was committed to seeing stallholders to their allotted spots down on the parade first thing in the morning. We were woken in the dark early hours by the telephone, I sat up instantly awake to hear the voice of my eldest son, Kate was in labour and I had promised I would have a case packed ready to leave when this call came. Never has a sense of duty and personal desire been so opposed. So I heard of Jacob Zachary Watts arrival into the world standing in a marquee in the early hours of the morning with a face wet with tears of love mingled with tears of frustration; as soon as someone else was there to take over my responsibilities I was on my way. I once read a quote by someone whose name I can no longer remember which was; ‘Grandchildren are your reward for not murdering your children.’ On a visit to see them recently I passed Jacobs slightly ajar bedroom door in the evening, and as I peeped around it I saw Kate sitting cross legged on the floor feeding him, and as she did so she was looking down at him as only a mother can looking at her child as she gently stroking his face. It was one of those moments where I felt so full of emotion I am surprised my body can contain it.

The restoration of the house is still on going, sometimes its two steps forward and one step back, for example the moving of some light fitting on the ground floor turned into major electrical work, resulting in floors of rooms we had finished being ripped up. However at last we have heat in the house, our lovely log burner, well one room really, but it does permeate the ceiling and take the chill out of the bathroom above. Hopefully the rest of the work in that room will be finished by Christmas as we will be 15 for dinner.

At the moment of writing 19 going on 20 year old Totty, our lovely old cat, is still with us but we are not expecting her to still be here Christmas, she will be sorely missed. will give you pictures of the advent windows and the flood.

Sitting here with town’s brass band playing in the street we really do believe it will be a Merry Christmas and a happy new year, and we wish one and all of you the same.

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