Tag Archives: disaster

This is how close we are to Europe

Wednesday 29th January 2020, 10.55am (day 3,079)

Strait of Dover, 29/1/20

I know that on my ‘About’ page I claim that this blog is intended to be apolitical. But now and again I make exceptions, and this is one of those days.

Today I have travelled to Romania (which you will see photos of over the next few days) for a conference that ironically is on cross-EU collaboration in higher education (a.k.a. the Bologna Process). I say ‘ironically’ because while I have entered Romania as an EU citizen, with rights here and indeed in 26 other countries across the continent, I will leave it on Sunday without these things, thanks to the piece of childish idiocy that has become known as ‘Brexit’, a shorthand term for the spasm of ideological, racist stupidity which a minority — and it is, be most assured, a minority of the UK population (do the maths) — decided in 2016 that they wanted. This then being reinforced by basically the same people who last month elected a lying, lawbreaking, over-privileged, credential-free buffoon to lead the country at this critical time.

On my way this morning from Heathrow I got the chance to take this shot: apologies for the alarming tilt on it but it was the only way to do it. Just below is Dover, its harbour walls clearly visible. And over there, under the plane’s wing, can be seen Cap Gris-Nez, near Calais. This is how close we are to Europe. I have flown over Lake Michigan and you can’t see one side from the other even from 30,000 feet. Here it took less than a few minutes to cross the Strait of Dover — or Pas de Calais, if you prefer.

And what do the Brexiteer morons and lunatics and bigots think will happen now? Do they think that the island of Great Britain is just going to float merrily off into the Atlantic, to engage in some blissful rendezvous with the Trumpiters somewhere near Bermuda? Are we supposed now to think that this narrow strait, this tiny defile that could still be walked across 6,000 years ago, is going to become a gulf and we will all get on with our Little Englander lives as if Europe, and all its economic and intellectual strength, its culture and history, wasn’t still there? Especially now that we have consciously revoked all ability to directly influence its politics, to vote in its elections, to oblige its ministers to hear us, as a member of a union, with all the deep legalistic meaning of that term?

I am ashamed.

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Lake Calder (not normal)

Saturday 26th December 2015. 10.30am (day 1,584)

Hodder lake, 26/12/15

Up until this morning 2015’s had been an entirely agreeable Christmas filled with friends and family old and new, much good cheer and sociability, etc. etc.

This morning things took a definite turn for the worse in the patch of England that lies, more or less, between Manchester, Leeds and Lancaster. Huge amounts of rain have turned much of this region into what you see here. We were scheduled to drive from my sister’s in Sabden to Clare’s parents in Morecambe this morning, and made it, despite some very damp moments on the road and views over scenes such as this. But we were among the luckier ones. Hebden Bridge and the whole Calder Valley, from Walsden down to Mytholmroyd, was today under over a metre (3.3 feet) of water, leading to terrifying scenes like this one, in Mytholmroyd. I do not even want to think about the impact this is going to have on my home town. In 2012 after the last (twin) floods hit several much-loved establishments were closed for months, and today’s floods were far worse. As this photo shows, the shops on the main street were deluged this morning.

The village of Whalley, which has appeared once before on this blog and was hit by flooding a couple of weeks ago, was also devastated again today. The shot I choose to epitomise this very shitty day is one taken as we tried to negotiate our way from Sabden past Whalley, on the A59 road which bypasses the village, and crosses the River Calder  at this point (note: this is not the Calder that runs through Hebden Bridge, but the Lancashire river of the same name; in the first version of this post I misidentified it). As you can see the river has become a literal lake, and many houses in Whalley were evacuated today as a result. Nor do I think the sheep pictured here (lower left) have a great deal longer to live. As far as I know no human lives have been lost in the region today, but it is a frankly terrible situation, that at the moment I do not wish to dwell on very much.

It is all very well to blame capricious nature for this crap, but there are also decisions — to do with land use, water management, pollution — that have been deliberately made over the last couple of centuries of human existence and which are exacerbating natural weather events like this. Today the consequences of these decisions really hit home. I am sure you will see more of this over the next few days, but we have to get home first.

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Rescue

Monday 9th July 2012, 3.15pm (day 319)

Rescue, 9/7/12

This is the worst thing I have had to post about on this blog.

Until 1.15pm today had been a very uneventful day. It then started raining: hard. Very, very hard.

By 2.15pm the road on which I live had become a river, and then we saw that the lane which goes into the woods was pouring out water (and stones). Whether it was just rainwater or whether, as some speculated, the old reservoir at the top of the woods had burst its banks, the normally placid mill stream turned into a torrent. Where it goes under the main Keighley Road and through a sluice pipe into the river, this backed up against the retaining wall to an astonishing degree, rising literally 15 feet in half an hour and eventually pouring through the gardens of the two houses nearest the bridge.

The owners of the house were not in. Myself and other neighbours tried to save vital items and – most importantly – the two dogs (which you have seen before on this blog). But most of the ground floors were taken out. Our house is uphill from the stream, so was fine (a couple of idiot drivers ploughing through the stream at 30mph being the main threat).

More photos and footage can be seen on YouTube and Facebook for those into their weather porn. For comparison, the lake you see in the woods at a couple of points is where we played mölkky the other day.

I’m supposed to be going to New Orleans tomorrow, by the way – but I ain’t promising anything. At the moment, Hebden Bridge is impassable to cars.

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