Saturday, 15 February 2020

Stuck inside of Tonbridge with the named storm blues again

Well with much of the south-east hunkered down against the worst that Storm Dennis can throw at us, I have to say this is the second weekend when I know I’ll be going stir-crazy from being confined to quarters. I was up a ladder earlier this morning securing the tarpaulin that is protecting the shed roof, against the forecast heavy winds.

I also picked up some of the remnants of our garden seat/ gazebo; most of which ended up in next door’s garden following last week’s named storm. I’m going to be busy, come the spring, attempting to reassemble said structure, along with replacing half a dozen fence panels which also took a battering.

Mrs PBT’s and I took a drive down into Tonbridge around lunchtime, just before the rain arrived, in order to pick up some shopping. The town wasn’t quite as grid-locked as predicted, but for those not in the know, a section of the A21 trunk road, which by-passes Tonbridge, has been closed in both directions for a week, to allow the re-building of a little-used pedestrian underpass, along with repairs to the viaduct that carries the dual-carriageway across the River Medway.

A footpath runs under the aforementioned underpass, and I used it once whilst walking the Wealdway long distance footpath back in 2010. Like many others I wasn’t aware that this tunnel-like structure was in a poor state of repair, but its condition does explain the speed restrictions due to a “weak bridge,” that have been in place on the A21 for at least a couple of years.

The next week should be interesting, as the traffic which would normally use the A21 is being diverted through Tonbridge and Hildenborough.  In mitigation, the schools are on half-term break next week, so the roads should be largely free of dizzy blonds, ferrying their little darlings to and from school, in massively over-sized 4 x 4’s.

Over-powered “Chelsea tractors” are one of the bug bears of living in the south east, but on the upside, the area is normally amongst the driest regions in the country. Not so this year, as I can’t ever recall having endured such a wet and dismal winter in the sixty years plus that I’ve been conscious of such things.

On my drive into work on Thursday morning, following another night of torrential rain – that I was completely unaware of, having slept right through, the surface water was such that sections of road that I have never known to be affected by flooding in the 14 years I have driven this route, were only “passable with care.” Where’s it all going to end? Or should that be when is it going to end?

The damp weather has scuppered any ideas for cross-country walking, so plans to complete further sections of the North Downs Way have been put on hold until things dry out. The same applies to any outdoor work, including replacing the aforementioned damaged fences.

If it’s any consolation, the weather has been unseasonably mild, and I can probably count on one hand the number of mornings I’ve had to be out early, scraping the ice of the car windscreen. It’s been so mild, in fact, that we haven’t contemplated lighting our log burner. The energy companies will be complaining soon that as customers are not using as much gas and electricity, prices will have to rise. How else will they be able to pay a dividend to their fat cat shareholders?  

The mild weather also seems to have fooled a number of plants into flowering early. The daffodils Mrs PBT’s and I noticed in full bloom, a fortnight ago on the Gower Peninsular, might have seemed down to the area’s very specific micro-climate, but I have now seen similar blooms on my drive in to work. Snow drops, those other heralds of spring,  are also in abundance, and I have come across quite a few during my regular lunchtime walks.

And so to matters beer, where there doesn’t seem to be much happening; certainly not in an organised fashion. There’s a CAMRA social planned before the end of the month, involving a pub crawl around Southborough. This doesn’t exactly fill me with enthusiasm, especially as the town has lost quite a few of its pubs over the years, although I might still turn up at the last pub on the list, just to make the point that not all of us are retired and able to make a 7pm start!

So as the winds from Storm Dennis continue to blow outside, I’ll sign off and look for something more interesting and entertaining to write about.


retiredmartin said...

I do enjoy these posts with domestic detail, Paul.

Reading this made me feel even more sympathetic to the un-retired. Like you I've been stuck near home two weeks in a row but at least I had the time for a night in Chester midweek.

Just a warning, the dizzy blonde in our household will be heading down to Sevenoaks tomorrow morning. Be warned.

Paul Bailey said...

It's not all bad being gainfully employed, Martin. As well as the regular wage there is the banter and camaraderie that goes with working in a small office. There are also two annual bonuses, five weeks paid annual leave, plus Bank Holidays. Opportunities for trips away crop up from time to time - last year being exceptionally good with visits to Germany and China I also went to Scotland last month, and there's the imminent possibility of a quick visit to Manchester next week.

I will take heed of the lady escaping the Fens tomorrow, although with the closure of the A21, Tonbridge is effectively cut off from Sevenoaks all week.

Etu said...

Paul, the waters of the Taff advanced swiftly to within four hundred metres or so of our home, and then, happily, receded with even greater alacrity today.

We're a bit concerned by reports that Welsh Water opened the reservoirs upstream for some reason, which can't have helped though.

Still, I suppose that it's better than a dam burst.

Paul Bailey said...

Etu, the flooding situation is not good all round, and today's heavy rain will not have helped matters. Glad to hear you escaped, and fingers crossed the release of the waters upstream from you will be carried out in a controlled manner.

There's a similar situation in this part of the country, whereby the Leigh Flood Barrier will be used to hold water back and prevent flooding in Tonbridge, but this will be at the expense of locations upstream.

I've just checked on Google, and two principal crossings of the Medway are currently closed because of flooding, leaving me with just one route into work tomorrow morning. That particular route is the diversion put in place because of the A21 closure - happy days!

Stay safe! Paul.

Etu said...

You have one - a route!

Our eldest is stranded on a farm in Herefordshire by flooding, and can't get back to his job in London.

Happy days they are quite - take care one and all.

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