Friday, 15 June 2012

Chapter Forty three

Last Wednesday, we got cut off by the tide...and YES!!! it was my fault. It had been a stormy old day; not raining much; but very high winds. I checked the tide tables and discovered that high tide would be at 1930 hours in the estuary. As it was expected to be a very high tide because of the full moon, plus the pressure of the southwesterley wind blowing I decided to check on it.
From our bedroom window you can get a fantastic view of the saltings so I checked from there at about 1920.
It was like a new world out there; dark and gloomy; wind blowing hard; and water everywhere on the saltings. I couldn't get out of the house quick enough and dragged Linda along with me. The lower road beneath us was full of water as normal. It can flood quite a long way along that stretch of road and in parts can reach a depth of six inches...if not more!
This whole stretch was flooded from one end to the other when we got to the bottom of our lane and joined it, so we turned right. Its quite annoying really. The water very rarely hits the houses on the side of the road because they are three or four feet higher than the road. Our house is about fifty yards from the road and about fifty feet higher. Even so; because we all share the same postcode...we have to pay extra for flood insurance just like the lower houses do. If flood water ever reaches our house; and this is highly unlikely; the only view left of the houses beneath us would be glimpses of the odd chimney pot. Drives you mad.
We walked down towards the quay and Sett bridge to see how things had turned out. On a couple of occasions the water has come over the edge of the quay so it is all very exciting. The lane twists and turns as it goes along and we turned one bend to discover the tide was lapping gently halfway across the road.
"Look at that Lin", I said in total amazement, "I've never seen the tide that far in before."
I checked my watch and it read 1945, so I spoke again.
"At least its on the turn now; it'll be going out in a moment."
We skirted the water and continued on. By the time we got to the quay we could see that the water was right across that and the creek was so deep a small yacht with what looked like a huge bearded viking aboard, was moored up alongside. We all said hello to each other as he disappeared below decks to do whatever sailors do down there and we continued around to the bridge.
The birdlife down here is extraordinary and there was a lot of it to be seen. Linda had neglected to bring her camera because she hadn't thught we would be out for long and it was quite gloomy out. She regretted that decision when we spotted a barn owl hunting along the flooded fields. As we watched it suddenly swooped down onto a dry piece of ground; moved around a little bit; then took off with a mouse or vole in its talons.
It was great to watch, although probably not for the little mammal destined to be dinner that evening. We also watched geese, swans, heron; and the like as we walked along.
Sett bridge did not let us down though and the water was almost up to the top of the arches when we got there. I didn't notice the tide going down very much considering it was now after 2015 and I was a little surprised, as was Linda.
"Are you sure you read the correct time in the tide table?
As usual Linda was beginning to think I'd made another mistake with something.
"Without a doubt," said I with the full knowledge that it definetely said 1930 in the book. Bringing my full expertise to the forefront I remarked that the tide might look like its still coming in because of the high wind.
"Its pushing the water in a bit love, that's all."
I believed it anyway and Linda accepted it as well. We've seen it before on our walks and both agreed that was probably it. We headed back to our cottage and retraced our steps along the lane. We were chatting about this and that when we walked past the quay and were still laughing and talking as we walked to the first bend in the lane just along from it.
To say I was a little surprised would be considered an understatement.
"Blimey love, look at that lot."

Before us was a river were once was the road. Now that was a surprise. Bravely I didn't scream or panic at the sight of the water covering the road; I didn't even wimper. I just stood there looking astonished while Linda called me all the idiots under the sun.
"But it shouldn't still be coming in. High tide was 1930; it said on the tide table."
I don't think Linda was impressed with my excuses. Nothing daunted anyway, Linda splashed through three inches of water in her sandals and got to the other side of the lake. I splashed behind her in my trainers and got wet socks as well as soaking trainers. I thought it best to say nothing.
Linda's face took on a funny colour about five minutes later when the road disappeared under an even deeper bit of water just around the corner.
We slopped our way home with me cursing the tide table book and threatening to write to someone about how wrong it was. We both had cold feet by this time and the wind wasn't helping.
When we finally swam into our porch, Linda beat me to the tide table book because I was still trying to get out of my socks. Its amazing how like a second skin they become when they are wet. She brought the book over to me and pointed at the time. Panic stricken I gazed at the page and my terror turned to delight when I saw the time displayed...1930 hours.
Triumphant I crowed at her, "Told you the book said 1930. They must have made a mistake."
My huge grin marked me down as really pleased with myself you understand...then Linda spoke.
"What colour is this section of the page Mully?"
She sounded deceptively sweet at this point but I took the bait.
"It's blue love."
"So it is Mully. In fact it's blue from March 25th until October 28th." She sounded a little smug now as she grinned at me.
"The blue bit is British Summer Time and the white bit is Greenwich Mean Time."
"And your point is?" says I still assuming that I got the whole thing right and it was the book that was wrong. Linda pointed to the large capital letters printed at the top of the page...
I still can't understand how I missed seeing them.
Linda smiled with that confident look that those in the right of it always had and uttered her usual phrase.
"Mully!!! You really are a big ninny".


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