Sunday, August 17, 2008

London's last defense

I once dragged my husband across northern France to see a dam, which it turns out was actually in another part of France. Ooops. We eventually saw it, right where it was supposed to be.

And being raised among the dams of the Tennessee Valley, I can't miss a good dam. But for all these years, I've never been to the Thames Barrier, London's flood defense. I had meant to go for my birthday this year, but a bout of food poisoning from one of soft serve ice cream machines put paid to that.

But finally, finally we went out there taking with us a visitor from Belfast, who probably couldn't give a stuff about dams. It took us a couple of hours to get there after having been stuck in a traffic snarl in Catford - and which only let up just at the point where we got to the giant cat, so we didn't even get a great look at that.

The delights of Catford*

But once we got there, did it live up to hours, weeks, months, years of anticipation?

Well, it's just a tidal barrier. I mean, how good could it be?

But yes, I'm glad I went. The light was good, so I got a couple of good pictures. There was a playground, so Buddy could let off a little steam. Alongside the barrier are giant berms (actually bunds, we were told)and in the play area - they built a giant slide the whole height of the bund. Buddy was fascinated, but sensibly decided not to go down.


We even paid the £2 it costs to go to the visitor centre - to see a film about the construction of the barrier and to watch a little working model of the barrier. I was asked mid-filming if it was for personal use. Ummm, yeah. I guess. I would upload, just out of some kind of lame maverick notion, just to thumb my nose at the Environment Agency - but it's so bad and that's 23 seconds of your life you'll never get back.

Thames barrier

thames barrier

raise the flood defenses! - at the Thames Barrier visitor centre
Raise the barrier! London's at flood risk

* Photo credit: Catford Kitty on Flickr by ljcybergal

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