Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Rain, rain and more rain!

Friends in Galicia tell me that it has been raining on and off for two months now, pretty much since we were last there. I wonder if it will stop for summer.

Optimistically I hung washing outside this morning. Sunshine is forecast but by midday it had not manifested itself. A neighbour, also optimistically hanging out her washing, told me she had had an email from relatives in Australia who had heard on the news over there that we here in the UK are experiencing a bit if a heatwave, or good weather anyway. Clearly our bit of the UK is being neglected. We agreed that when “weather in the UK” is in the news what they really mean is “weather in the London area”. So it goes!

But the weather is odd everywhere. It may have nothing to do with the weather but in Rome 44 sinkholes have appeared so far this year. And I thought the roads around here were in poor condition! Usually the sinkholes are big enough to swallow a car. In February in Rome six cars were sucked down into the ground as 50 metres of via Livio Andronico gave way! As I said, it may have nothing to do with the rain but I doubt if that helps. The last six months have been the wettest six months in Rome’s living memory. Subways have been closed because of flooding and football matches have been cancelled.

Experts say the rain contributes to the problem because much of Rome is built on soft sediments and unusual extra water washes away small deposits that give the ground rigidity. Add to that an ancient and creaking system of aqueducts and sewers and it’s rather surprising the city remains standing at all. And then there is the increased volume of traffic that the city endures every day.

The other day we took a walk up what we refer to as the quarry road. It has a proper name, Lark Hill Lane, but there is an old quarry half way up the steep hill, hence our family name for it. After the first fifty yards it stops being a properly surfaced road and turns into an old farm track, with ancient cobbles showing through. It’s at least a couple of years since we walked up there and we remarked on how eroded the surface has become. There are great hollows gouged out between semi-paved bits of roadway.

So that explains where all the soil and gritty stuff has come from that is washed down out road and clogs up all the grid every time it rains heavily.

Presumably something similar is happening between the hills of Rome.

Our quarry road doesn’t suffer from huge numbers if vehicles roaring up and down it, although off-road trail-biking probably doesn’t help.

But around here we don’t have ancient monuments in danger of being undermined, just the increasing likelihood that most of the soil from the hillside will end up on the A62!

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