A Multi-Coloured Future

I took the snap below (near Henley) because I don’t think I’ve seen that colour combination in fields before. The reddish-coloured-grass is struggling to recover after the winter’s floods. I don’t think the die-back and discolouration has been caused just by being too long under water; other places haven’t gone the same way.

Years and years ago a friend met a soil analyst who’d been looking at the flood plain between Henley and Shiplake, and he said the soil was badly polluted with pesticides running off from the hills. Perhaps that’s the cause – the floods created a lingering pesticide bath for the low-lying land.

(He also said that he wouldn’t eat anything grown on the land in question. Of course, plenty of crops were and are.)

Whatever the reason for the red grass, I guess the future will hold many more unusual sights in nature, as the consequences of climate change become ever more apparent. I guess lots of disasters have a ‘wow factor’. I rather suspect that any ‘wow factor’ won’t prove much of a compensation for a parched or poisoned environment.

Coloured fields nothing like nature intended

Colours nothing like nature intended

Flood Avoidance (With Route)(Just For Cyclists)

If you’re itching to get out on your bike for a ride but are struggling for a route given all the rain, this loop between north Reading over to the other side of Woodcote might be worth a try. It’s a 20 mile route with a couple of lumpy bits to keep you exercised.

At the time of writing it avoided any major problems caused by flooded rivers or (still) rising groundwater, but be warned – many of the roads are in an atrocious state, and not just the smaller lanes. A lot of care is needed. But that all said, it’s better to be out than in!

View Route Map
Link To GPX File.
About The Route Mapping

1,004 Words

If a picture speaks a thousand words, then herewith 1,004:

Cycling and walking curtailed by flooding

Cycling and walking curtailed

Regurgitating Drain

Regurgitating Drain

Regurgitating Drain …

Reasonable weather for a welcome change, after too many days with the temperature too close to zero and stints on the turbo-trainer the only sensible option.

And it was good to be out – a loop south of Reading then back across to Henley and over the top to Caversham.

If nature was a sentient being, it could be tempting to thing that nature’s getting her own back at the moment. After all the floods of late, most road-side ditches are full to the brim or have been recently, meaning all the dumped rubbish and litter has come to the surface. Nature’s revenge – as all our filth is regurgitated back at us.

Today I was riding in the Royal County of Berkshire and South Oxon. This whole region is a visitor destination. It’s a litter-strewn, pothole-riddled mess.

Dear politicians – this is the impression visitors are getting of Britain. Invest here – in a country, in a society, that’s all too happy to foul its own nest? It’s not a good omen …

A flooded ditch and field near you

And nature said, ‘Look at your filth’. And the businessman said, ‘Invest here? Not on your life’.

Of course, nature isn’t a sentient being. If only. Perhaps I’ve just been listening to too many old Bowie records lately.

That’s OK, It’s Only Awful

A road ride on a route that I mapped out beforehand as likely to be reasonable through a sopping, sodden Berkshire landscape. I didn’t have to alter my route, but several lanes and B-roads were close to being impassable – and these weren’t ‘the normal suspects’.

Riding and looking around, these ‘weather events’ are not the normal exceptions to typical weather, if that makes any sense. Yes, this road or that road, this field or that field might have flooded before, but not this often, not to this extent, not as a part of this broader weather pattern.

I’m not sure there’s anything new to be said about climate change.

Perhaps the most interesting thing that’s left to observe in connection with it is how it will be reported and presented by the media and government; how the public are manipulated or managed, depending on your point of view.

It seems to be a recognised ploy to soften us up with terrible predictions so that when something merely bad happens, that’s seen as a bonus. If you start thinking about news reporting in those terms, a lot of it makes better sense than it might otherwise.

(This PR related blog touches on the subject.)

Climate change might not be quite so manageable though. If the reality is going to be awful, are we going to be happy with that if we’d previously been threatened with the apocalyptic?

A public bench, part submerged in flood water

At least it’s not apocalyptic.

(Finding Form Amidst) Stygian Amorphousness

A dismal little ride, for the sake of it, on sodden roads past saturated fields, on a route partly determined by which roads aren’t impassable.

Doing it means I’ve done 4,400 miles this year – the same as last year. That means I’ve met what’s been a moving target. I started out aiming for 4,500 but cut it to 4,250 in the light of the miserable start to the year and subsequent soggy summer.

I upped it to 4,400 towards the end of November when I was thinking I should easily meet it. Then December’s rain happened – and continues to happen. Add to that a couple of bouts – one still continuing – of feeling quite lousy with throat/sinus problems, and hey presto! All bets are off and plans are awry. As it is, I have now just scraped in.

There are lessons to be learned. There’s the obvious one: human plans are feeble. That’s not a revelation. A more interesting one is what we should learn about living with climate change.

As local climates get ever more unpredictable, given how much of what we want to do is governed by the weather to some extent, we probably ought to be adopting a much more proactive ‘make the most of it’ culture, in all spheres. If March turns out to be hot and sunny again, then we should all be geared to grabbing that opportunity and making up for it later. If August is wet then let’s not bother with taking the main school holidays then. And so on.

It would need a vastly more flexible and cooperative attitude across the board – the public sector, the workplace and so on – and, of course, it won’t happen. It’s very easy to imagine to cries of “It’s too difficult”; “it would be impossible to organize”; “it would harm profitability” … etc.

And yes, I’m not a fool and I know it wouldn’t be a simple thing to adopt a different approach to how we’re organized. But, if the will was there, ways to make it work could be found. A lot would come down to the question of whether we live to work or work to live. We are by-and-large organized around the former principle when, arguably, we should be guided by the latter.

As for meeting the 4,400 mile target – I’m all too aware that means precisely nothing in any significant scheme of things. But if you’re going to set a target, to then not take it seriously would be akin to cheating whilst playing a game of patience.

As for the act of setting targets / the need to set targets – ‘fumbling for form amidst Stygian amorphousness’ perhaps sums it up. Something like that.