Flooding in a Drought

Saturday 1473 – 5th May 2012

I watched the FA cup final today with my son and was going to write about what a great victory Liverpool had over Chelsea but I’ve changed my mind… largely because they didn’t have any sort of victory over Chelsea let alone a great one !!!

So instead I’m going to write about (and show you a couple of photos of ) flooded Cambridgeshire in the middle of a drought and when there’s a hosepipe ban in most of the South East of England !!  If you think that doesn’t make sense read on.. ..

The last 18 months ( before April that is) have been the driest in East Anglia for 100 years. Apparently in a good year we only get 2/3rds of the average rain the rest of the UK gets. In 2011 we only got 2/3rds of 2/3rds if you get my drift! It’s serious in this region because we grow so many of the nations crops, for example a third of the nations potatoes.

Ironically a hose pipe ban was introduced by Anglian water on the 5th April and it hasn’t stopped raining since. April has been the wettest on record and there are floods everywhere. I wouldn’t want to be wading out to sit on these benches would you??

Heres a bit from Anglian Waters website where they explain why all this flooding has less of an impact on the “hidden drought” than we imagine it should –

“unfortunately, it’s not going to make much of a dent on underground water levels unless it persists for many more weeks, possibly months.

“We’ve taken the opportunity to refill our reservoirs, and some of them are recovering quite well. But the challenge we have is that they are starting from a very low level, following so many months of below average rainfall.

“Our aquifers – the water stores that you cannot see – are also starting from a very low level. The difficulty we have is that they take longer to be affected by rainfall, and that’s why these downpours won’t fundamentally change the situation.”

What happens to the rain?

  • At this time of year, a lot of rainfall is absorbed by growing trees and plants. When the weather gets warmer, much is also lost to evaporation.
  • The ground is very hard, because of the lack of rain over the last two years. This means that it takes longer for water to soak into the ground, with more water ‘running off’ into drains, rivers, and streams.
  • Once the soil does start to absorb the water, it acts like a dry sponge, recharging itself. Only once this ‘sponge’ is saturated can excess water start to make its way into aquifers.
  • Anglian Water captures a lot of the rain that flows into the rivers, and pumps it into reservoirs. Most of these have recovered well following the recent rainfall – but reservoirs only supply half of the drinking water we need in our region.

Ciaran continued: “We’ve got to be careful not to let the recent rainfall mask the ‘hidden drought’ that still exists in our groundwater stores. These aquifers are still notably low. It takes longer for them to be affected by drought, but it also takes longer for them to recover when it rains – many months, in some cases.”

But it’s not as straightforward as that. Anglian water admits on it’s website to leakage of 

“around six cubic metres per kilometre of pipe in our network. That’s compared to an industry average of just under 11 cubic metres”

and goes on to say that it will spend £14 million on tackling leakage. Their profits reported in June 2011 were said to be £709 million. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions!!!

I’m sure they’re not alone in either leakage or profit !   An article in The Independent as long ago as July 2010 stated that “3,300,000,000 litres are lost every single day through leakage”  

Yes that does say EVERY SINGLE DAY ! and I doubt that has improved enormously. if you’ve got time have a read as it goes on to say that water companies are restricted by the regulator Ofwat who dictates how much they can spend on leaks! Surely that can’t be right?? If it is the world has indeed gone mad!

My own personal water supply actually comes from Cambridge Water rather than Anglian water and 97% of the water supplied by them comes from underground aquifers but maybe because of better management of leaks?? we don’t actually have a “Temporary Usage Ban” as they call it though I don’t think it likely that anyone is going to be using a hosepipe for some time anyway !! 

Oh and this is what happens if you rely too much on your SatNav – There is a road under this car which is beside a pub where I had lunch with a friend of mine. The person who was driving it was apparently following their SatNav to get to the Pub – there are 2 roads and this is the wrong one !!!

SatNav users beware!


What’s happening in your region weather wise?  Are you having extremes of weather too?  I’d be interested to hear your stories.


Goodbye from Saturday Girl until next week or join me every day on my other blog Helen’s Photomania here   where you’ll find lots more photos.



“All places are alike, and every earth is fit for burial” – Andrew Marvell

Saturday 1474 – 28th April 2012

Last weeks post was about the joyful wedding of 2 friends of mine and on Photomania a couple of weeks ago I showed photographs of my friend and her 4 week old baby Lily-Rose   so that’s 2 out of  the 3 of Births , Marriages and Deaths. Seems almost inevitable then that this week I’ll be covering death!

When you get older and in my case because my father died at 68, my brother at 53 and my ex-husband at 59, it’s inevitable that you do sometimes think about death and where you might want to be buried or indeed if you want to be buried at all ( This post isn’t going to be morbid so don’t worry! ) 

I have always been pretty adamant that I didn’t want to be buried but rather cremated and I’m still sticking to that but I want to tell you about a place that I regularly pass to and from work. ( the photos were all taken in February)

It’s called The Arbory Trust and it’s a Woodland Burial Ground that is also a member of the Association of Natural Burial Grounds .

Take a look at The Arbory Trust’s website here

The Woodland Trust is a Christian charity but as the Trusts literature states they “ warmly welcome everyone, regardless of race, religion, geographical or theological boundary, and you are assured of a warm, caring service at all times from our well-trained staff.”  

 One winter’s day I took a trip there with my camera, to have a walk round and find out more and spoke with a member of staff who arrived during my visit ( there isn’t someone there all the time) and she was so very welcoming and friendly. There is a very beautiful wooden lodge there, which was opened by David Bellamy, OBE, where services of whatever religion or none can be held and there are also memorial books .

I found it to be a profoundly beautiful and peaceful place. The burials take place in glades surrounded by trees and over 20,000 trees have been planted on the nearly 40 acre site since 2000.  The glades have plant names such as Sweetbriar, Honeysuckle and Foxglove


So what did I particularly like about this idea?  For me it was that everything used has to be biodegradable, the coffin ( so no brass handles or plaques) , the flat wooden plaques that can be used to mark the grave, the flowers ( thankfully no plastic allowed) and even the benches. So graves are not permanently marked but are recorded by survey so staff could tell where the exact spot is. Grave space can also be reserved by making a half or full payment. In time the woodland will become just that, a natural classic British wood.

People cannot actually plant a tree at their loved ones grave but can sponsor a tree at the site. I love that the trees are all native and I saw Oak, Ash, Wild Cherry, Silver Birch and Yew to name but a few. Graves are sprinkled with grass seed and wildflower seed and I’m looking forward to going back to visit throughout the seasons.

There are apparently over 260 natural burial sites around the country ( in the UK)  and if you are interested in finding out if there is one near you take a look at The Natural Death Centre’s website here

I will end with a quote from the Arbory Trusts website which sums it up.

“Woodland burial is a centuries-old practice which is justifiably enjoying a great revival. As people become more aware not only of their responsibility to the environment but also of their ability to choose where their ultimate resting place will be, more and more are turning to woodland burial, where their impact on the environment is less than that of cremation, and where they know they will rest in an increasingly beautiful, natural setting which their family and friends may return to with pleasure as the years pass.

The idea that we can create a living memorial by encouraging new woodlands, and in doing so we can leave something that will be enjoyed by our great-grandchildren, is considerably more appealing than opting for the often very impersonal, crowded environment of more traditional cemeteries, with serried ranks of graves and headstones.”

So have I changed my mind about being cremated… Hmmm I’m not sure but I may not need to worry as you can have your cremated remains buried in a grave space at the Arbory Trust too. 🙂


And when the stream that overflows has passed,
A consciousness remains upon the silent shore of memory;

Images and precious thoughts that shall not be
And cannot be destroyed.

William Wordsworth, from The Excursion .


 I know I have a lot of followers and readers in America so if you are interested in this you might like to look at this website The Green Burial Council  

In CanadaThe Natural Burial Association  

In New ZealandNatural Burials

I’m sure there are many others in different parts of the world too, get googling!

Goodbye from Saturday Girl until next week or join me every day on my other blog Helen’s Photomania here   where you’ll find lots more photos.