It’s been a strange sort of weekend – We started off on Friday in Kendal. As we continued our journey north the clouds which had gone from grey to inky black pressed closer. It started to rain and the wind began to play with the tree tops. By the time we arrived in Carlisle the rain was coming in horizontally and leaving me breathless as though someone had thrown a bucket of water over me. We were soaked in the time it took us to reach the hotel foyer.
“Nice night for it?” The receptionist nodded. “Desmond’s arrived.”
“Yup – the storm.” The receptionist smiled. “I don’t remember storms having names when I was a kid but apparently they do now and this one’s called Desmond.”
Safely ensconced in our hotel room we listened to the storm and weren’t at all surprised the following morning to discover that the rain was continuing to play upon us like a a jet from a hose. Even so I was startled to see that Rickerby Park had been turned into a flocculating swell of heaving water. It was only a glimpse though and I wasn’t sure what I’d seen. “Was that the river?” I tried to peer over the bridge as we headed towards the roundabout.
“I wasn’t looking.”
“I think its burst its banks.”
“That’s what the park’s there for, soak up the excess. I don’t think we’ll leave the car by the castle though.” So we didn’t park in the Devonshire Walk car park – in fact we went to the top of the multi-storey car park- just in case- and prepared to do battle with the weekend Christmas shoppers. They weren’t there and neither was the market. Most shops had a young lad or lass stationed with a mop and bucket at the entrance. Electronic doors became so waterlogged that they refused to function. HWIOO ultimately refused to leave the Lanes shopping centre – which is a first – and I decided that I really didn’t want to go to the bookshop – also a first.
Even so we just thought it was wet. It’s Cumbria – there’s a reason why its called the Lake District and it isn’t to do with the amount of sunshine it gets every year.
We only got an inkling of the trouble ahead when we were sent off by my mother-in-law to do a spot of shopping for her that afternoon. HWIOO took a short cut to avoid the London Road traffic- well he would have but the road was closed on account of the fact that the bridge on the Petteril Bank Road wasn’t doing a particularly good job unless impersonating a waterfall is something bridges are allowed to do in December. “I’ve never known it to flood quite like that up here before,” HWIOO said thoughtfully as he turned the car around.
“Perhaps they’re letting the water out higher up so that its not so much problem in town?”
HWIOO shrugged. “Maybe. When we go by Harraby Green have a look and see what it’s like down there.”
In all honesty it was fascinating. You could still see the river’s course because of the current and the white froth but the flat land around Harraby Hill had disappeared changing the landscape and revealing the contours of the land. Carlisle was well on the way to becoming an island with three bridges in and out. No wonder the Romans used it as a defensive location and no wonder we spent much of the next hour sitting in a traffic jam.
At Dunelm Mill the flood gate was in place but the river was still following its course- all red, roaring and angry – but not spilling over its banks.
An elderly man in a flat cap came and stood next to me. He looked gloomily at the water. “The missus is clearing downstairs. Reckon as she’s right.”
“Aye, eh.” HWIOO nodded.
“Aye. I’ll be lifting the carpet this afternoon. Only had it six months.” He sucked his cheeks. “Reckon we can get it upstairs, along with the missus and the budgie.”
“But what about the flood defences?” I tapped the sturdy looking gate.
“They’ll not hold that lot.” And with that he trotted off, shoulders hunched, water dripping from his cap – a small stoic agent of doom.
Turns out he was right. I hope he got his carpet up in time. I’m also very glad that my mother-in-law lives on the top of a hill and is well stocked with books, tea bags and tunnocks’ chewy bars.
This post doesn’t have any pictures but there again its not often I blog about something that’s splashed all over the news in any event.