Monday, 28 December 2015

Monsoon Christmas

Boxing Day slipped lazily by, the weather was good enough for an afternoon family walk at low tide on the beach and then on the pier in Penarth. Then it was Sunday again, with a Eucharist to celebrate at St Germans for thirty people. We kept the Feast of the Holy Family, but much of what I wanted to preach about was the neglected saints days of the week, St Stephen, St John, Holy Innocents, St Thomas a Becket and St Sylvester - all martyrs except John. Cardinal Vincent Nigholls highlighted this in his Christmas Even interview on the radio, and it got me thinking along his lines about martyrdom today.

We took an afternoon family stroll in the riverside park after lunch. Gail and Anwen came to join us there so that Rhiannon and Anwen could spent time together. We followed a very muddy winding path through the woods along the Canal Feeder as far as the Blackweir Ambulance station, a less than comfortable adventure for the adults. At Blackweir Bridge the Taff was discharging huge volumes of water over the weir at high speed. Above the bridge, water was still a metre from the top of the river bank, thankfully. I wondered what it would be like if it had rained so long and hard here as it has done this month in the north of England.

In Victorian times, the river through the flood prone town centre was straightened out. The building of the Bay Barrage greatly improved flood defences. The last great inundation was in the 1979s, when St John's Vicarage was in Cathedral Road, and a boat called to take the Vicar to church. The barrage destroyed the river's tidal character, but ultimately didn't stop salmon and trout returning, or otters and cormorants. Sections of the river bank were raised, and there's now a secondary dyke through the fields beyond the west bank. We're fortunate there's a gradient in the riverbed right along the river as far inland as Llandaff North, where there's another weir. The drop over three miles from there to the sea is two metres or so, and the clear straight-ish channel makes for fast run-off.

Eastern Cardiff is still a worry, as the river Rhymney runs out through tidal marshes to the estuary, and high volumes of water can still back up at high tide and spill over into inhabited areas. The water table is only a metre below ground in the flat lands along Newport Road, and times of high rainfall are still a worry. Much more investment is still needed for flood defences on the east side of Cardiff Bay. But, until there's a crisis this investment in the future doesn't seem to figure much in public debate.

Before lunch today we walked into town to look around the shops for post Christmas bargains. I came home with a HP mini desktop PC at £230 once I'd bought an adaptor to attach to my new monitor. It's Windows 8.1, so there'll be the usual upgrade hassles. My 2009 mini-tower has become unreliable in switching on recently. It's the last thing I need when I want to work at something quickly. Trouble is, having to install Linux as well with the the EUFI boot security hardware is not going to be at all easy.

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