Boxing Day has never been a particularly good day for me when it comes to travelling up to the House in Scotland. I have driven in icy conditions with cars slipping and sliding off the road in front of me, and on one occasion, due to traffic congestion, it took nearly 5 hours to do a journey that should take half that time. Yesterday was no exception. The weather was atrocious. Early morning torrential rain meant that I was soaked just taking Cello out for his early morning walk. By the time the car was loaded I was soaked for the second time. The motorway was awash with water, and the journey was a difficult one. It was so unlike Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve was blue skies, the kind of skies that seductively make you want be outside, to walk to skip and just enjoy being in the fresh air. The fact it was the end of a December was a special bonus. Part way through the day I realised that I didn't have any fresh orange in the fridge. Orange juice, that is, to make a Christmas Day morning Bucks Fizz. I had 2 boys aged 4 years and 18 months old, both in need of some exercise. As we had been cooped up inside because of the rain, which had finally stopped, I thought it might be a good idea to get out for a walk. So with my youngest daughters warnings of ‘keeping the boys clean’ ringing in my ears, off we set.
Rather than walk to the local supermarket, a good 20 mins brisk walk away, I thought we would walk up the road to the local corner shop, a mere couple of hundred yards away. Now I don’t know what it is about small boys, dressed in their best ‘bib and tucker’ and puddles, but both Jack and Harry seemed magnetically attracted to every puddle along the way. We had only been going for a few minutes when Harry resembled the Dr Foster of the children’s rhyme, sitting in a puddle right up to his middle.
Now the one good thing about being a grandparent is that you never really get into serious trouble as far as the grandchildren are concerned. Whatever happens it all eventually comes down to the slightly exasperated exclamation of ‘Granddad!’ And so it was on Christmas Eve, when the 3 of us got back to the house, orange juice safely in hand but looking rather wet and dishevelled. There was a slightly forced smile, a cry of ‘Grandad!’ as the boys were whisked away to be dried off and changed.
It was ironic really. In the last few weeks, here in the North of England, it’s been, as Samuel Coleridge wrote in his epic poem of the Ancient Mariner ‘water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink’. The journey up to the House in Scotland was punctuated by news reports of how folks Lancashire were being affected by the non-stop torrential rain. Floods were wide spread, and as I sped up the motorway towards Scotland the evidence was plain to see.
My heart went out to all the people whose lives would be impacted by the rain and floods, as it did to all those people where water is not freely accessible on a daily basis. It was a humbling couple of days. The contrast of the boys splashing in a carefree way through puddles, me turning a tap and enjoying a piping hot shower, and later, pouring a little water into my evening whiskey, with those without water or those experiencing too much water, was stark.
The next time I write my blog will be 2016 – and I'm hoping next year, whatever the weather brings, will see me working for a fairer more less unjust world. This is me signing off for 2015 – and wishing you and yours well for the next 12 months, and to infinity and beyond!