The Smell Of Water

A day of quiet roads and bad road surfaces. I thoroughly detest the gravel-smeared-on-tar approach to road maintenance, which achieves nothing for any road user. It soon gets pitted and rutted for both four- and two-wheeled vehicles, and for two-wheelers particularly it’s dangerous because the new uniform veneer of a surface hides holes and lumps. There’s no attempt to fix these before the new layer is smeared on top – the faults are just hidden.

Crossing over the Thames at Goring/Streatley, the smell of the river was strong today and for me that’s very evocative – of nothing specific I don’t think, just ‘nice days’ by river sides. The smell of the sea is similar.

Of course I know I’m not alone in finding the smell of water – sea, (clean) river or both – redolent of unspecific good times. What I don’t know is whether that’s a simple cause-and-effect: we’re an island, we traditionally take holidays by the sea, that’s what we associate with happy childhood days and so on. Failing that we often gravitate to other water – rivers on moors, lakes and so on. Or, if it’s not cause-and-effect, whether there’s something deeper going on there, whether the smell of water strikes a more primitive chord somehow, something beyond mere association, even if it is sub-conscious. I don’t know. I’m waffling.

Plenty of Red Kites around today, and a couple of buzzards circling up really high. I only saw the latter in Cornwall. I don’t know if the lack of trees down that way will stop the spread of the Kites. I suspect I’m seeing more dead badgers than I used to – I saw two today. I don’t have the information to be able to say if that’s indicative of their success and spread, or of there being more cars on the road to kill them, or of farmers shooting them on the sly and dumping the bodies.