mumsnetBack along, my family and I swapped a house for a three-acre field in Devon and a leaky caravan where we lived off-grid for two years. Sadly, we failed to get the planning permission we needed to stay. We are now back within four walls, with a proper loo and everything in a cottage in Dartmoor. So this is now a blog about living ethically amid a fabulous landscape with our home educated kids while we adjust to being 'normal' - for a while... and what we plan to do with our land next

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Saturation point

'How's your week been,' asked a colleague.

'Wet,' I replied.

What my reply lacked in articulacy, it made up for in accuracy, because this week Devon has been nothing if not wet.

It rained steadily all week, in a normal sort of way, then on Thursday it sloshed down. This was bad timing, for Thursday is the day I have to collect my daughter from school and traverse 15 miles of country roads in order to chauffeur her to various dance classes in Exeter.

It did occur to me – as I drove slowly along thin strips of visible tarmac flanked by vast, lapping puddles, along already narrow lanes – that the best thing to do would be to collect her and go home, but that seemed a bit wuss-ish.

So we picked her up and set off to ballet along the back roads. The going soon turned rough – after heavy-duty puddles for about a mile we turned a corner to find an entire lane was flooded, the road resembling a small river. The water was clearly not too deep, but since it was brown and swirling it was impossible to tell how much not too deep it was.

I pulled over and tried to decide whether to brave it. After a while a lone car swished through from the opposite direction. The driver, a breezy woman with a cigarette dangling from her lips, wound down her window. 'You thinking of going through?' she asked brightly. I nodded. 'Yeah, there's loads of this,' she said nodding at the floodwater. She paused and glanced reflectively at her dashboard 'I've conked out again,' she said cheerfully, 'Good luck!'

I hadn't found this exchange particularly reassuring. My boys were even less so. 'We are so going to die,' said Matty happily as we set off through the water. He and Sam leaned out of the window to get a better view as we headed through the flood and shouted gleefully as brown spray hit them in the face. 'This is awesome,' they yelled 'we're gonna die'.

We didn't die, and more remarkably the car didn't conk out, which had been my chief fear – certain death falling further down the list, somewhere behind landing in a ditch.

Such adventures continued for about five miles. Each new stretch of floodwater proving to be as stressful an experience as the last.

Just as I felt I could relax a little, I came across a stretch of lane where large chunks of the bank had fallen onto the road, mud and debris everywhere and tree roots alarmingly exposed. This sent my anxiety levels soaring, and I heard my daughter begin to moan. 'Yes!' chorused the boys joyfully.

We made it through and arrived late and shaken at dance class. There I met a lady who lives in a village on an alternative route home. 'I'm thinking of going back your way,' I said. 'I wouldn't,' she replied. 'I've just seen a car floating.'

So we returned the way we came, only this time in the dark.

Zena attends a school that takes the Church of England part of its name very seriously. She has, in a short space of time, become well acquainted with a number of songs of a spiritual nature. As we inched cautiously through the puddles in the dark she struck up with Jesus is my Saviour. We hit the first flood. 'Awesome!' yelled the boys, 'Love him more and more' carolled Zena, while the windscreen wipers squeaked and the rain continued to fall.

By the time we got back to our village we had ploughed our way, in more than one sense, through He's Got the Whole World in His Hands, and Kumbaya.

It was cold back at the field and still raining, but I have rarely been so pleased to get out of the car.

1 comment:

  1. lol. I'm not sure I could cope with what my kids call 'Jesus songs' for very long before ejecting the vocalist :)

    Dh says the reason we bought our house was because it was on a hill and the cathedral spire would have to be several metres in water before it lapped at our door. I thought we bought the house because we fell in love with the 1930s stained glass window in the doorway. I wonder if that's what that whole 'Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus' thing was about.