Friday, 7 December 2012

More sun and less rain, please.

Today for the first time the rising sun was too low to shine through the roof light into the kitchen (you will recall that we now live in an ‛upside-down’ house). Sun is so important to both of us and the other kitchen window faces north. Hmmm. Still, we must remember that it is but a fortnight to the shortest day and so we will be ‛without kitchen sun’ for about a month. When we moved here in the middle of the summer, we had a number of pointless discussions as to how long this period would be and it is actually far shorter than either of us expected.

We sometimes wonder how people living within the Arctic Circle manage without seeing the sun at all for days on end. There was a time when we considered moving to the far north of Scotland. It’s a long story with which I will not bore you but one of the reasons we decided against was the long winter evenings. As a friend of our living near Ullapool said, “When I was young we would all gather together in the evenings for a cĂ©ilidh but now everyone sits at home watching television and drinking far too much whisky.”
Actually, when we gave this project serious consideration we both realised that we would hate to leave this part of England.

In recent days our local evening news on the television has shown film of the Dorset coast (the Jurassic Coast as some call it) falling into the sea. It seems that the attack is coming from two directions: the sea (of course) and from the heavy rain saturating the fairly soft sandstone from which these cliffs are made. Some poor folk have been watching their gardens fall away and are obviously very worried since, sooner or later, their houses will also disappear. They are in a dreadful place for there is nothing they can do: nobody will be prepared to buy a property about to become a part of the sea bed.
Even quite small streams are carrying huge quantities of silt.
Even the far tougher rocks on the coasts of the western part of Devon and Cornwall are not immune from erosion. Hallsands, a village on the eastern flank of Start Point, was engulfed by the waves on 26 January 1917. Why did that happen? Well, the probable answer is that the removal of many tons of sand and gravel from the sea bed in order to provide material for the breakwater at Plymouth caused the beach which had protected the village to subside. There was the usual public inquiry before this work started and the inspector determined that the dredging would not cause any problems. However, further investigations at the turn of the century queried this and the licence to dredge was revoked in 1902 since when the beach has returned to its former level but too late to save the sea wall and the village – the remains of which can be seen from a viewing platform built above it by the local authority.
The River Erme at Ivybridge doing all it can to take Devon and dump it out at sea.
My mind has been brooding along these lines because when we crossed the moor last Friday there was a good deal of flood water pouring down the lanes, tumbling out of banks and swelling the streams and rivers already in spate. Often we were forced to slow right down as we crossed through fords where water was running over bridges rather than under them. And all of it was a dark brown: all of it was carrying little bits of Devon away and taking it grain by grain down to the sea. And what is left behind is often all the more beautiful as a result – until the day comes when the last vestige of topsoil is lost and all that remains is a rocky desert. And there is nothing we can do about any of it. It may not be a comfortable thought but in the end nature is a lot more powerful than we are.
The last signing was in Waterstones of Exeter.
Marcia has now finished her round of signings for this year and is getting stuck in to the next book which is coming along nicely. This is the exciting bit: then comes the desert (the middle bit which seems to go nowhere and take for ever to get there) before we get towards the end and then, as the light at the end of the tunnel burns every more brightly, there is the romp to the finishing post. Most of that will be in the New Year: now we are both having fun as more is revealed about the group of people who, in the fullness of time, you will all come to know. Despite this Marcia has promised that between now and Christmas she will either write a special blog for you or talk to you on a video clip.