Rural Utopia

The regular reader will know that I have made my domicile in the village of Sawston in the (very gently indeed) rolling countryside of South Cambridgeshire (though as a cyclist, I can assure you that it is more topographically varied than those who use powered transport might think).

Today, I read news of a report by the Halifax – the ex-building society which is now part of a tax-payer bailed-out bank – and so an unimpeachable source (you never hear about imnectarinable sources do you?  Maybe the furry skin is important in establishing veracity?).  This report states that South Cambridgeshire is the best place to live in rural Britain (and, thus by extension, the world).  Apparently, we lucky residents enjoy high income, good health, high educational standards and, apparently, it doesn’t rain very much either (oddly, the report doesn’t mention the very high standard of local blogging?!).

The whole “not much rain” thing is a very popular statement to make about the area round Cambridge – it is often alleged that we get less rain than Barcelona (which is clearly a lot wetter than we all think) and that the climate is semi-arid.  I would take issue with this statement given the number of times I have been drenched whilst living here – indeed, when I first moved to Cambridge (in one “flaming” June) it was so wet that after a few days I ran out of dry trousers to wear (my slacks were getting wet faster than I could dry them).  As further evidence for the prosecution I offer exhibit B, a 100 litre plastic vessel which captures water from my roof (I really hesitate to describe moulded green plastic as a barrel or butt – no cooper was involved), the contents of which I use to water my extensive grounds.  Despite the driest February and March since the invention of rain (or something like that), this vessel is still full to the brim – which does not seem entirely compatible with the alleged aridity of the region.  When landscaping my gardens with Pampisford’s answer to Capability Brown (and you hadn’t realised he was a question!), I deliberately selected plants which would thrive in the baked soils of the Mediterranean climate I had been promised.  Sadly, the excessive precipitation (in the form of both rain and snow) has caused many of these to perish – and I am now thinking of accepting the reality of the local climate and going for bog-loving plants with a penchant for snow.  On the plus side, the actual climate does seem very positive for viniculture and last year I had a bumper crop of grapes – so many in fact, that I (an inveterate grape-glutton) became bored of grapes (talk about ungrapeful) and have started to think of preparing the first vintage of Chateau Sawston for 2011.

However, despite my disagreement with the volume of rainfall, I would agree that South Cambs is a pretty good place to live.  Apparently, as a resident of this rural nirvana I will enjoy the highest rural life expectancy in the land – so there should (statistically) be many more years of my mildly diverting ramblings to come… (Perhaps, we will be able to toast this fact with a glass of Sawston’s finest in years to come).

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