Monday, 7 January 2013


There was a thick blanket of mist this morning, heavily moist and insulating so that there seemed to be no distant sounds at all. I set off with lights on a 20 mile circuit - more miles would be better but, as usual, I'm time deficient. The roads are sticky and coated with a film of brown detritus from the surrounding fields. As I rise to the first junction I hear the tearing, ripping sound of a hedgecutter at work, soon I see evidence of shards of wood strewn across the road - I try to avoid the debris, often the cause of punctures at this time of year, and swerve and twist my way along the road like a sailor on the deck of storm-tossed ship.

I climb up to Market Bosworth as the church bells ring and turn right heading through the town and the down hill stretch towards the sailing club. I'm overtaken by someone; it spurns me into action and I make the effort to keep up with him on the fast descent - I manage it easily enough - going uphill would have been a different story. He carries on as I turn right to Congerstone - I try to blast it along the slightly rising road - but my speed soon drops and my legs feel tired and shaky. 

Through Shackerstone fields and paths are submerged by a muddy inundation, and trees, hedges and bushes mark out what is more usually land. The low lying flat land adjacent to the canal is in spate; its usual placid grassy surface seethes with currents, shifting liquid sheets, and eddies concoct miniature whirlpools.

The canal close to the road bridge has burst its bank. The towpath is totally submerged and the scene is lakelike. These floods are expressive reminders that we cannot shape the countryside just as we like. The patterns of weather and climate have to be accommodated in our crowded landscape. Recently I read that we are still building on floodplains - seemingly short-term optimism enables local councils to permit building for which the nation later picks up the tab on its flood defence bill and home insurance costs. 

The mist has not lifted at all by the time I arrive back - one thing though, it is not at all cold - particularly not for the time of year. I notice how much I've sweated as I peel off my layers - the mild spell means a chance to get out more and get some much needed miles into the bank - I have some work to do or else I might have carried on. Maybe next weekend.

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