Thursday, 6 February 2014

Water, Water...

This winter's relentless rain has not been a lot of fun, even in the relatively dry Southeast - but it has had a wonderful effect on the suburban demiparadise of Carshalton (see Nigeness passim). For several weeks now, all the old watercourses that dried up 50-odd years ago have been full to the brim. Carshalton is now the Venice of Northeast Surrey, and people come from far and wide (well, maybe Wallington) to photograph it in all its reflective beauty. The canals laid out by an 18th-century landowner, who ran out of money before he got round to building a house to befit his grandly planned grounds (including a grotto and a bridge built to an elegant Venetian design), are now looking much as he would have intended, rather than being dry grassy dips. Even the spring-fed pond in Carshalton Park is full of water now, and the Wandle itself, embanked as it flows through the Grove Park, has never been fuller or faster - the waterfall is positively roaring. All this is very gratifying, especially as it takes me back to my boyhood, when the spring water bubbled forth from the chalk, and mosquitoes bred in huge numbers in the water-filled canals (that was the down side. Every summer morning, the walls of our bedrooms would be streaked with blood from swatted, well-fed mozzies)... Will this be the shape of things to come as Carshalton returns to its watery glory? Has the water table risen for good, or will the greedy water companies soon have it falling again? Time will tell.

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