So this is what it looks like in London right now. It's raining and raining and raining, and the rain is drumming on the roof, and I'm obviously going down with some bug because I feel nauseous and tired.
I expect I'll feel better soon, and no doubt the rain will stop, but meanwhile I've been looking through my photos to find different aspects of water, to take my mind off the downpour outside.
One Spring evening in Paris, we watched the boats chugging up the Seine. The light was peach coloured, almost as if the whole scene had been tinted.
And this takes me back to an afternoon in Italy, drinking grenadine and looking across the lake. Italian lakes can have a silvery, almost turquoise colour, and the leaves of the trees around the statue swayed in a warm breeze. And Italians always do statues well.
There is a different beauty in this ornamental canal, carefully situated so that it reflects a gothic orangery in Gloucestershire, and swinging round cleverly to divide the field of sheep from the house.
These cygnets almost looked as though they'd been specially arranged in formation, too. But they weren't. They came sailing past when I was sitting by the river at the bottom of my mum's garden. It is a shallow trout river, patrolled on the other side by a vigilant water bailiff. I love the light and shade of the waterweeds, and the water's glassy clarity.
This too, struck me as very decorative. Yes, I know these leaves need to be cleared out of the pool, but I love the shadows they make. I also remember how much I appreciated that pool one blazing day.
And by contrast with the hot, sunny pool, I was intrigued by how these flowers, thrown into a winter river, were frozen in as though encased in textured glass...
Of course, water offers endless opportunities for fun, .specially if you have water guns like these teenagers in a French theme park. They were leaping from boat to boat, and causing mayhem.
The woman running the ride was yelling at them through her megaphone, but they didn't take the slightest notice. Passers by were watching them from the bridge where I was also standing, cheering them on.
I specially treasure spots where you can experience the water outdoors. England doesn't have many places like this (unless you count being outdoors in the rain, I mean) But there are a few. Do you know of any?
These kids were loving the fast little stream that feeds this pool.
I often think of this French house belonging to a friend, where the pool was overshadowed by a tree that produced beautiful plums ... a dream on a hot late summer day Sigh, I wish I could go back there but it's been sold now. Anyone know of a house with a pool in Southern France to swop for a London apartment for a week or two?
Water is a good place to be alone and think your own thoughts ...
Or simply mess about in boats, as the Water Rat recommended in "Wind in the Willows." (The photo above was taken very near the stretch of the Thames on which the book was based)
You can also do all kinds of daft things on and in water. These kids are in inflatable bubbles. The bubbles are blown up using a huge wind blower, and then the kids are zipped up inside and rolled into the lake. They have all kinds of fun trying to stay upright in the water - before the air runs out. Didn't look that safe to me, but none of them asphyxiated or drowned so I suppose it's okay.....
Wish I had some surfing or sailing pictures, but I easily get seasick and I hate water going over my head. But I like to go on larger boats that don't roll as much as small ones, and this view evoked a tinge of nostalgia.
Not so much nostalgia below, although during a heavy downpour at this 12th century Islamic fortress, the water flooded all the way down through the building and out into the street....
...which cleaned the place out quite effectively, as it was trickling down quite fast. I don't suppose 12th century standards of hygiene were that good!
Sometimes a watery scene is the image of perfect peace. Above, everything was silent except for the many birds, and really rather magical.
And in a different way, this small boat on the Nile was also peaceful, heading into a desert-red sunset.....
despite the calls to prayer coming from numerous mosques on the banks on either side as I took this photo.
Such peace is a contrast to this rough sea in the Canary Islands, where the breakers were thirty feet high and the roaring of the sea filled the little village where I was staying.
And the roar of this cascade in Wales' Elan Valley was also a constant background noise as we walked through the woodland nearby.
Here's a creepy, almost Dickensian scene in the London sewers, with soupy brown water lying very still at the bottom. I was fairly anxious about my camera, since I was wearing clumsy protective gloves and didn't really want to drop anything into the water as I waded through....
But water has always had a practical use, either to clean or to carry trading vessels - these are some of the few trading narrow boats that still ply the English canals.
I like water. I like deserts too, but I wouldn't like to live somewhere with no water
So I'll just have to put up with London...