A Wet Winter

Cotswold Sunset
Mike Baldwin [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], attraverso Wikimedia Commons

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A Wet Winter

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Emerging from the wettest winter since national records began in 1910, the UK has certainly lived up to its reputation for rainy weather this year with the Met Office reporting rainfall of over 5 metres between December 1st and February 24th. Thousands of people found themselves cut off, without electricity, floodwater invading their homes. With some villages in the low-lying Somerset Levels remaining flooded for weeks, families were forced to live on the upper floor of their houses, unheated, damp and surrounded by stagnant water, reliant on supplies delivered by the Red Cross. Politicians proved unable to keep their promises, however well-intentioned, that money would be no object, that help was on its way, that God had personally promised David Cameron that next week would be sunny, and the finger-pointing and in-fighting began. The opposition blamed spending cuts and austerity measures. The government blamed the Environment Agency for failing to ensure rivers were dredged. One councillor from the right-wing UK Independence Party caused indignation and hilarity in equal measure by blaming the flooding on the legalisation of gay marriage, and was subsequently suspended by red-faced party leaders who presumably felt the floods were making enough of a mess without him adding to it.

Oxford, lying on the south-east edge of the Cotswold hills and meeting point for two major rivers, was hard hit by the floods. Main roads into the city remained closed for weeks. The trainline which connects London with the west of the country was covered by a foot of water causing havoc for the thousands of people who commute from the Oxford area to work in the capital every day.

The village where I live is perched on top of the Cotswolds and so was spared the flooding, though the fields all around looked like a lake. I did manage to have my own flooding-related mishap on my cycle-ride to work as, in the dark, I misjudged the depth of what I thought was a puddle at the foot of a humpback bridge, whizzing merrily down the slope only to find myself waist-deep in muddy water spilling out of the Thames and across the flood meadows. I swear those ducks were laughing...


be no object = not be an obstacle or problem
cut off = isolated
cycle-ride = journey by bicycle
dredge = to remove material from a river
finger-pointing = blaming, accusing
floodwater = water inundating land which is normally dry
havoc = chaos
hard hit = affected badly
humpback = a bridge with a very curved shape
in-fighting = arguing between members of the same organisation
making a mess = causing disorder
meadows = grasslands, often wet and marshy
mishap = incident, small accident
misjudge = make an error in calculation
(the) opposition = political party opposed to the ruling party in government
perch = to sit on top of
rainfall = the quantity of rain
red-faced = embarrassed
reliant on = dependent on
(to) spare = to save, to be saved from
spill = liquid falling from a container
waist-deep = as high as a person’s waist
whizz = to move very quickly