Flooding is Not Very Festive

Last Monday night, as we slept soundly in our beds, a storm raged outside. Trees toppled in the wind and our corner of the country was lashed by torrential rain. Sometime during the night, the river which meanders along between our road and the large open park and sports ground opposite opposite burst its banks. We awoke on Christmas Eve to scenes which, whilst not totally unprecedented or unexpected given that the park serves as a flood plain, were somewhat surprising. Water, water, everywhere, as far as the eye could see.

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I thought that was the extent of it. The flood plain had done its job and flooded nicely, sparing our house, our street and the rest of the town from a certain deluge. But a short walk in to town later that morning revealed several flooded side streets and town centre car parks under feet of water. Our local Sainsburys was deserted – on the day before Christmas!

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On the right is a bridge – level with the water height. The orange bollard mark the the of a weir – there is usually several feet of drop here!
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Abandoned umbrella
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Even Thomas’s commitment to the park couldn’t overcome the obstacles here!

But it wasn’t until the evening that events took a more worrying turn. Water begun to creep steadily up our road, sweeping without invitation in to houses and cars, cutting us off from the rest of the town and washing away any hopes of a peaceful Christmas. Far from spending the evening filling Thomas’s stocking, setting out Christmas presents and enjoying a Christmas film, we were busy moving the car to higher ground behind the house, hastily preparing for potential evacuation and ensuring important items, particularly those of sentimental value, were out of harms way. We were glued to the news and social media updates, where rumours of failing flood barriers did nothing to calm the panic that seemed to be spreading as surely as the water throughout our town. As we went to bed, images of sugar plums couldn’t have been further from my head.

Christmas morning dawned bright and clear, the worst of the weather well and truly past. We were fortunate to be spared flooding, but neighbours just a short distance away were not so lucky.

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Our street on Christmas morning, just metres from our front door

We remained trapped, our road impassable. Gone were the plans for Christmas lunch with family and we embarked upon a Christmas at home with just the three of us. Not what we expected at all. It felt, and still does, selfish and indulgent to bemoan the fact that there would be no turkey dinner or usual Christmas trimmings when so many local families had lost so much and were spending their Christmas morning in temporary accommodation. But I must admit it was somewhat difficult to feel very festive in the circumstances.

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Luckily for us, the water subsided reasonably rapidly and by Boxing Day, our road was passable by car and we were able to get out to enjoy a postponed family Christmas lunch at my parents’ house. Sadly for us the unexpected didn’t end there, as both Ian and I came down with the stomach bug that Thomas had last week. And to add a final insult, Thomas’s sleep has hit a real low patch in the last week. We’ve endured hours of hysterical screaming that nothing other than YouTube videos of trains will soothe. There really is nothing quite like watching trains coming and going from London Bridge on your iPad at 1am! It’s taking hours to get him to settle at night and he’s back to waking three, four or five times throughout the night after that. He does have two new teeth to show for all the wailing, so perhaps that’s the reason. But overall, perhaps you can forgive me for feeling that Christmas fell a little flat this year.

Back at home, we went for a walk this afternoon. As the pictures show, the floods are receding. So here is hoping for a brighter start to 2014!

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Swans playing football!

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Linking up, for the first time, with the lovely What’s the Story Linky over at PODCast

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23 Replies to “Flooding is Not Very Festive”

  1. All in all it sounds like a pretty horrific Christmas, with all unfortunate events being so sudden and unforeseen. It’s no wonder you were left feeling glum.

    On another note, the ‘Whopping trains’ app is popular in this house. Just streamed footage of trains on a loop, but perfect for boys like ours.

  2. My goodness me – I think you’re quite entitled to feel a little shortchanged by Christmas, although I’m very relieved you didn’t actually get flooded. It’s the kind of Christmas that makes a great story in about five years time – just not now!! Hopefully the New Year will dawn bright and sunny and with more sleep involved for all!

    1. It will be a Christmas that’s remembered, that is for sure. And although I feel down, I know just how much worse it could have been. Looking forward to the new year 🙂

  3. What a nightmare, worrying time for you this christmas. Your post brought back lots of memories to me, as my house flooded back in 2007, but it wasn’t christmas, which must make things seem even worse. I know how worrying it can be, an emotional roller coaster.
    I feel for everyone who has been flooded last week. I hope things have improved for you and you get a good new year. x

    1. Thanks for your comment 🙂 I feel very lucky to have escaped the very worst of it, and so sad for our near neighbours who were not so fortunate. Christmas is laden with so many expectations that when awful things happen they do seem to hit a bit harder. We got a little more sleep last night, so things are hopefully already on the up!

  4. Oh my goodness Caroline, what a post. I’m not surprised you’re feeling a bit glum, what a Christmas. You guys were so lucky given how cruel nature can be at times – incredible photos. I’m glad you got to enjoy your Christmas dinner even if it wasn’t when it was intended. You must be shattered too – I remember our toddler being awake a lot when she was teething. It’s great to see the floods are now subsiding and the sun has made an appearance. Lets hope normality is resumed shortly. Thank you for sharing with #whatsthestory

    1. Thanks for your comment 🙂 We do feel very lucky really. Thomas has always been a pretty poor sleeper, but he’s also been a slow teether. No teeth at all for 18 months, then 10 at once! This is the first time he has teethed without also being breastfed, and I’m finding it harder going. Hopefully he’ll pop out several more in one go and we’ll be nearly done with this teething malarky!

    1. Stuff like this reminds you what Mother Nature can do and that she doesn’t just do it elsewhere in the world. So thankful it wasn’t worse.

  5. Oh my goodness, how awful. I’m glad that your house was spared, but the photos of your town are quite sobering. I’m sorry that your Christmas was such a let down – here’s hoping that 2014 starts more brightly xx #WhatstheStory

    1. Thank you Sara. I just saw some overhead footage of our area yesterday, and that was very sobering indeed. Here’s to a good start to 2014 for us all!

  6. Wow this really was quite a storm! I think it’s understandable that you felt a little disappointed by the outcome of Christmas and I really don’t envy you with so little sleep 🙁 Let’s hope it’s the teeth!

    1. It really was quite a storm – much worse than the St Jude’s storm which was so hyped up in comparison to this! *Touch wood* tonight is already going better on the sleep front. Let’s see how long it lasts!

  7. Oh dear, so glad the flood didn’t reach your home and totally ruin your Christmas day. Too bad for your neighbours too. Hope this doesn’t happen again! On a brighter note, do have a lovely New Year. Your little boy is so cute! 🙂

  8. Oh my goodness, thank goodness it didn’t reach your house but it must have been so scary to see how close it was.
    Our town was flooded due to the storm surge at the beginning of the month. We are far enough away to not have been affected but seeing photos of it on Facebook was so odd, seeing town and the building my nan lives in surrounded by quite deep water was really surreal, mostly because it wasn’t raining!
    I hope everything returns back to normal soon for your town. Almost a month on there are so many signs of damage and repair still going on around here.
    xx

    1. It had receded fairly rapidly, but there are lots of piles of furniture and torn up carpets outside houses, which is so sad to see. Coming home earlier this evening we noticed lots of sandbags out again and apparently there is the threat of more bad weather. I just hope the houses and businesses which have already been flooded are spared more.

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