Monday, 23 July 2007
The first time we visited Cesky Krumlov was after the terrible floods of 2002. On our first night our friends gave us a tour of the town - it went something like this: " You see that line on the plaster of the house, that is where the flood water rose to."... "The water came down there and right up here." It was almost amusing the way the flood, "the worst in 1000 years" (although I am not sure who was measuring the water height in 1002) kept creeping into the tour of this most beautiful of towns. The floods clearly did huge damage and it has taken years to restore all the buildings. Like my friends, when giving a town tour to visitors, I find myself pointing out the flood line.
But I never really understood why the flood made such an impression on my friends, until now. In the last few days floods have torn through my beloved Gloucestershire. Even Winchcombe, the little Cotswold town of my birth, was hit by almost tidal waters as they swept off the hills and, channelled into the corner of Winchcombe's steep valley, tore through the streets and tore down dry-stone walls, flinging the stones around like pebbles. As a girl I was confirmed in the great Norman abbey of Tewkesbury, where as I write the flood waters have broken through into foundations and vaults. It was this news more than any other that brought tears to my eyes. The abbey normally stands above Tewkesbury's regular floods, its ancient builders (building yes just under 1000 years ago) had known how and where to place this holy site. Somehow therefore it is the waters' disregard for the old and the wonderful that hurts more than anything.