Getting wet feet and more

The recent flooding has been quite shocking and took me back to the 1990s when we worked on a flood defence scheme to install a flood bank into twenty one gardens alongside the Grand Union Canal in Hertfordshire. Our role was to make a survey of each garden, agree with the resident how their garden would be reinstated after the engineering works and monitor the landscape contractor’s reinstatement on site.

The gardens were fairly small and at least half of each garden was destroyed by the works. This involved a lot of consultation and cups of tea. As well as hearing their life stories we acted as therapist, explaining carefully what would happen and providing reassurance that it would all end well. By the end of the project we could have produced a soap opera about our residents.

They were all so different and as long as it was within budget they could have pretty much what they wanted in their garden. But some people were avid gardeners so to lose their beautiful garden was heart-breaking. Others did not care but dithered about what they wanted. Wholesale NFL Jerseys The landlord with a rented property was not interested but the elderly couple with their perfect garden wanted it restored exactly as it was. One woman, let’s say of mature years and ample proportions, always came to the door in a skimpy négligeé and ignored me while she concentrated her charms on the very embarrassed, young and rather handsome engineer. Fortunately, for the engineer, her garden was already at the right level and only needed minor works.

One resident stood over the contractor as he replaced a terrace brick by brick. The poor man, a perfectly competent hard landscaper, was so unnerved by this surveillance that he could not get it right. After three attempts the contractor bought in the rudest paver he could find; the resident had met his match and the work was finished in a morning.

Because the site ran parallel to the canal, health and safety concerning ‘working near water’ was a very big issue. I was fine by the canal but managed to walk backwards into a garden pond. Stepping back on site, to get a better view of something, is a very common accident and people have died falling backwards down stairwells by doing this, so be warned. I was lucky that I missed the concrete edge on the far side of the pond but I did feel a complete idiot and had to borrow a set of dry clothes to get home.

As the waters have risen I have thought of those generous, kind, indifferent and grumpy people and hoped that they now think the disruption was worthwhile. I think I would.

Flooding in Tewkesbury

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