There has been such a lot of ‘stuff’ in the media about the local elections that I felt impelled to vote. Himself, I must report, has felt no such compulsion. The village I live in is small, more of a hamlet really, and it is fair to say that I have never seen anything even vaguely resembling a queue at the Church Room polling station. Today was no exception. The last time we had an election, back when Boris got in, there wasn’t a queue but I did meet a few other people either voting, making their way there or just leaving. It was a pleasant encounter and a chance to catch up with some people who live in outlying farms etc. After a good old chat we each went on our way but there was none of that today. I walked the short distance up the lane, past the pub, across the ‘main’ road and along the pavement to the hall. A couple of cars parked outside boded well until I realised that they belonged to the officials. The two make shift booths, either side of the door, were used to check me off on the list and for me then to be issued with my two voting papers. Unlike other polling stations I have only seen a policeman once in the many years I have lived here. On that occasion he was paying a flying visit and then sped off to another village. There was one voting slip for the Police chappie and one for a local county councillor. I duly made my mark and then posted them in the relevant boxes. Job done. Nobody else appeared and the man in one booth joked about being run off his feet and then commented that it was nice and quiet so he could get on with reading his book. I had seen nobody on my short perambulation to the polling station and I saw nobody on my way back. The village lay silent and still, bereft of all visible human inhabitants. But I had done my duty and cast my vote that had been so hard won so many years ago. Of course for us here on the marsh the elections being held today are of only local import but in other parts of the country, particularly Scotland and Wales, the elections are of greater relevance. No doubt a great deal of analysis and prognostication will go into the ‘unpacking’ of whatever results we get.
Before I went indoors I strolled a short distance down the lane towards the sheep field and took a few photographs. As I looked across the marsh to the clearly visible hills the menacing pewter dark bruised clouds full to bursting, banked up in a mountain of blackness reminded me of what my mother might have said. I could almost hear her voice pronouncing that it was “As black as your hat over Bill’s mother’s” and that we were sure to have a downpour sooner or later. We certainly did yesterday afternoon. The rain and hail came down in torrents, beating on the windows, rattling on the roof and soaking everything in its wake. By the vehemence of it one would have assumed it was rain a deal of water but I have just checked the water butts and it seems this is not so. The soil is damp but by no stretch of the imagination could it be called wet. It has, however, left great beads of water balanced on Tulip flowers and leaves like perfectly rounded diamonds sparkling in the weak sunshine. The sparrows are clearly enjoying the quiet and making up for the lack of human noise by squabbling loudly among themselves in the hedges and garden bushes. The apple blossom has burst into bloom and the small cherry tree has a few flowers. The Tulips were much knocked about by the winds but a few have hung on valiantly. Because of the high winds and cold that is persisting making it feel much more like a mild winter than spring, my seedlings are still housed in the conservatory. The runner beans are slowly but surely climbing the windows, the broad beans are beginning to flower and the tomato plants will soon be blooming too. Pleasingly the aubretia seed that has germinated will be very welcome to plant in various nooks and crannies around the garden, not least in among the giant rocks we have uncovered in the far corner. The work on that corner has come to a stop until the weather improves but the site of a shed has been vaguely designated and a cope of bushes might have to go. It won’t be a great sacrifice to be honest because they are spindly and half dead anyway.
I should have been for-warned that we were “going to get some weather” when I drove across the marsh yesterday afternoon. The distant hills, the wind farm that is several miles away as the crow flies and the Sussex headland of Fairlight were all clear as day. In the folklore of my father and his father this would have been designated a “weather breeder” meaning that rain was a sure thing. I have never known this method of prediction to fail – even on a brighter day if one can see vast distances there will be rain. A couple of days ago we had a small crisis – I have an inexplicable aversion to electric blankets and so we still use hot water bottles. A couple of nights ago the one used by Himself burst – well not actually loudly burst but rather sprang a leak and seeped very hot water on to my hand and my side of the bed as I was going to put it in place. No harm done and a spare one replaced it but I gave me an excuse – not that I needed one – to order a new one and various other bits and bobs from Amazon. Yes I know they are ‘bad’ people and don’t pay their taxes etc but for us in the pandemic they have have been something of a life line and a way of indulging ourselves from time to time. This was absolutely no exception. A new hot water bottle, two pairs of garden gloves, the others have gone through, some ant powder because we have been invaded in the conservatory, a metal ‘thingy’ to take the newspaper so that man doesn’t tear it when he shoves it in the letter box and most especially three new books – all for me! A couple of ‘who done it’ historical novels as an easy indulgent read and an anthology of nature writing that looks to be an absolute gem. The cover in its self is beautiful designed by Angela Harding, it is called “The Wild Isles” and describes itself as the best of British and Irish nature writing. Old favourites like “Wind in the Willows” and Ronald Blythe’s “Akenfield” rub shoulders with more recent pieces that I am not familiar with and pieces that I am ashamed to admit I have never read but should have. Oh, I have just remembered that this is not the entirety of the order – I have also ordered the new William Shaw crime novel, set on the marsh. My reading at the moment however is Gaudy Night still. It is an enjoyable read and I have found the mystery absorbing and such that reading on is obligatory for me. Looking out of the window I have just noticed that the rain as come. Not heavy and not persistent but definitely rain. I hope it has stopped by this evening when our latest Waitrose delivery is due. Again I have sort of forgotten what I have ordered so there may be the odd surprise and, of course, the odd disappointment to say nothing of a weights and measures failure I expect.