There are so many benefits to living in the country, but also potential problems. While we planned to move to Wales, we made sure we took into account the location of any property to a river that might flood. We chose and bought a house on a hill, with a riverbank a long way below it. Last year, at the beginning of October 2018, our river burst its banks and our riverbank was flooded for the first time in over thirty years.
We hoped it was a ‘one off’, but this October it has rained and rained, and every morning on my walks, I’ve watched the river rising and surging. Last week the rain was torrential, with strong winds gusting on our hill. On Friday morning, the river was three feet from flooding, and by four o’clock in the afternoon, just one foot away.
This weekend we were planning a tidy up of the land, a final clear around and clear out of barns, and last bramble and nettle hack back, plus internal lime mortaring. Instead, we found ourselves having to react to another crisis.
The river didn’t burst its banks, and the fields around our neighbour in the mill house didn’t flood, so she was safe in her home from flood water but….we hadn’t realised that the water had gathered behind our house. The back of the house has always been an issue, the kitchen having been added on in inferior slate and the ‘lean to’, has little footings, a broken plastic roof and neither have any guttering. Our builder performed the necessary work to stop the stone built extension moving, and we’ve insulated and whitewashed inside to make it ‘useable’, but we always knew we’d have to put serious work into repairing this part of the house…we didn’t realise it would have to be so soon. But on Saturday, it was all about reacting, saving our possessions and trying to use the minimum effort to work temporary repairs, as the water behind our house seeped beneath it.
We’d already cut part of the carpet away due to the actions of a naughty cat (!), and stacks of towels was our best bet keeping the flood water contained. And then we began to dig. We didn’t want to dig too close to the house, but the drip water was settling close, so I began by cutting a small trench a few feet from the house, and then digging smaller ones from the drip water to help it drain away. These photos do not do justice to the hard work it was! I thought I was going to be peeling off turf, but the ground is stony.
We dug round the front too, pulled out all the grass and leaves from the concrete ditch around the house, and dug across the driveway so the water could drain into our overflow pond. The ditch used to protect some of the house when it only had a tin roof, but the thatch pushes the ‘dripline’ out further, so one job we have to schedule is digging and concreting in a new ditch around the house.
But we stopped the water rising further, and when the rain stopped on Sunday, the trenches began to dry out, as did our lounge.
We’re now behind with our clearing up and indoor lime mortaring, but mattocking and digging for so much of Saturday, I was exhausted on Sunday, and chose to rest up a little. I did make food though, so do pop back for whole food plant based recipes that you will love!