The words ‘drought’ and ‘Great Britain’ don’t normally meet that often. ‘Rain’ and ‘Great Britain’, now that’s a different matter, and we have various phrases to describe it, my favourite one being what the Irish call ‘a soft day’, where the drizzle comes down in gentle wind-teased folds that mean that no matter which way you point your umbrella you’re always going to return from a walk soaking wet.
However, at the start of the year this country was indeed going through a drought. A bad one too. We had our second almost-dry winter on the trot, punctuated by a dry, albeit very cloudy and not massively warm, summer. Even when it snowed it then all thawed so fast that the ground didn’t get much of a chance to soak it up.
For those of you who are not aware, we have a lot of rivers in this country. Rivers, streams, rivulets, brooks, burns, nants, the bloody things are everywhere. At the start of March this year something odd started to happen. Everything started to dry up. The aquifers were running dry. Area after area started to report low water levels. The South East, the South , the South West, the Midlands, parts of Wales, the North, even a few parts of Scotland. It was the news that Wales was in drought that shook me. Back home is full of hills and mountains that tend to suck in every rain cloud in Western Europe and siphon them dry. For Wales to be in drought, that means that the weather had gone totally twp (no that’s not a typo, go look it up. I’m in a Welsh mood today).
It was, in other words, getting a bit hairy.
At this point a momentous decision was made by our water companies. Faced with a diminished water supply they did the only thing they could. The only thing that made sense. They brought in – a hosepipe ban. This was, in other words, a big deal. Using your hosepipe to wash your car or water your garden would bring down the full weight of the law. If, that is, your neighbours were squealers.
And then, as a result of this terrible edict – it started to rain. In fact, it bloody poured. April was a washout. So were large parts of May. June was the wettest since records began. July has seen floods all over the place. The stream at the bottom of the hill here has been a torrent.So there’s the answer, America. Hosepipe ban. Just be prepared for the deluge that will follow.