We have our standpipe. Thames Water put in the meter and piping, ready for us to fix a standpipe which we did midweek. It was quite an effort getting through the concrete and needed a hefty drill. But it has been done. We have used it for watering the garden. I did one of the sessions myself. I am sure I will get used to it very quickly, but it felt quite remarkable, actually watering with a hose.
About five years ago, we were totally thrown off base by Thames Water quoting £3000 to put in a meter. That put us off doing anything for a couple of years. Where would we have got the money?
Then, last year’s drought caused a rethink. A few years of drought and we wouldn’t have a garden. Water butts are fine, but you need some rain to fill them. And in hot weather, they empty quickly.
So we went back to Thames Water, having identified where the water would come in from. This time, an engineer came from Thames Water. Last time they hadn’t visited, and came up with the big number without leaving the office. The engineer on the spot said there was a connection under the plate. And we were on our way. In around two months, the meter has been put in, then the standpipe, and hose attached. Water on tap!
Thursday was the hottest day of the year, Friday and Saturday matched it. In September! We’ve had 5 days over 30º, record breaking. Not a record you want broken, as this is a clear sign of climate change. Hot dry summers extending into autumn are not good news at all. We are continuing to pump CO2 into the atmosphere through our use of fossil fuels, increasing year on year as if we have never heard of climate change.
CO2 prevents heat from the sun escaping into space, and so warming the planet. Of course, you want some blocking, or the earth would be like the moon. Having no atmosphere to hold heat in, the moon’s temperature varies from over 100ºC during the day to minus 170º at night. A 270 degree difference every day! So we need some greenhouse effect on earth to keep heat in, but no more thank you, governments of the earth.
I look for spiders around the garden. This is their time, setting out their webs and mating. But this year, there are few. The heat isn’t good for them. Though, I do find a large crucifix garden spider behind the greenhouse. Climate is a factor in their scarcity, but perhaps shortage of insects too, their food. Insect numbers have declined by over 50% since the 1970s thought to be due to pesticides and to climate change. Apart from being part of the food chain, insects are important pollinators, around three quarters of our food crops are pollinated by them.
The Holocene Epoch began 11,700 years ago, as the ice receded. A growing group of scientists say that from 1950, we have entered a new epoch, the Anphropocene. The name is from the Greek and means ‘recent age of man’. Their argument is that humankind is utterly altering the planet. Our population increase threatens forests, grasslands, the oceans and other habitats. And our use of fossil fuels is hitting much of the biosphere including ourselves. So the Anthropocene is not a flattering title.
In the centre of the garden, part of Sophie’s memorial, golden rod is in bloom. Its bright yellow dangling, strings of florets can be seen across the garden, telling us its autumn. And if we want further confirmation, see the plane tree leaves covering the pavement just outside the main gate. Red, yellow and brown, like multi-coloured gloves with pointed fingers, with lots more to fall in the coming months.