By the river, with the river…

My title is a slight misquote from one of my favourite books, The Wind in the Willows’ where Ratty is explaining to the bemused Mole about the importance of rivers in his life; he says along the lines of the only way of living is by the river, with the river, on the river, in the river. By chance I’ve always had rivers in my life, with a few exceptions. Even with those exceptions there has been a river somewhere not too far away, even if it didn’t make much impression on me, or I made little attempt to find it.

  • The River Cam – this river fulfilled all of Ratty’s requirements for a perfect life; it was a significant part of my world until we left Cambridge when I was sixteen – and it has been part of my inner life ever since
  • The Bristol Channel – we moved to Weston-super-Mare and there was the sea; to be honest, at that time we didn’t go down to the beach much, the sea itself goes out a long way, and when it comes into Glentworth now Weston Bay it’s not very exciting. The beach is very flat, there is a lot of silt in the water as it’s fed by three rives, the Severn, the Avon and the Wye. One interesting fact, we have the second highest tidal range in the world, beaten only by the Bay of Fundy in Canada
  • The Mersey – I moved away from home to Manchester, and there are many rivers, canals and waterways which go through and under this wonderful city; to be honest, I wasn’t much aware of them, too busy living my life, however they were there, and I crossed them, walked by them and occasionally looked down at them. They were mostly sad and neglected then, dirty and filled with rubbish. I am so glad when i revisit I find them a completely different, brighter, cleaner, living water ways
  • Chorlton Brook – the latter part of my time in Manchester, I lived in the town – now classified as a ‘Suburban area’ of Manchester. As well as the Mersey passing on the south side, there was Chorlton Brook, and I lived in a flat on its banks for a couple of years
  • Oldham – not a river but where I lived for several years; I lived on Waterworks Road at one point, not a happy time in my life. Then I moved to Spa Lane and this was the start of the most wonderful change in my life, a place where I married, had children and with them and my husband walked out into the nearby countryside. There was a small stream, which I thought was the River Spo, but I can’t now find mention of it.
  • Uphill – back to Weston-super-Mare, but not to the town, but a small village to the south, now our home village of Uphill. We are only a hundred yards from the Uphill Great Rhyne (a rhyne is the local word for a ditch, or drainage way) and about quarter of a mile from the River Axe, and of course, back near the sea, about a quarter of a mile to the beach!

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