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Same Chemical Substance - Different Ways Of Surviving Around It (Or Why Can H20 Also Be H2 Oh No???)
I think I am going to get a ringside seat for a spectacular show in a couple of hours (and I won't even need to leave my house - I will only have to look out of my front room window or my office window.  Office window has a better view).  The name of the show???  "Strictly Come Driving"!!!

This is a bit like "Strictly Come Dancing" but with cars.  Actually - there are times when it can ressemble "Synchronised Swimming" with cars.  However, those occassions are a lot rarer than they were when I was at school.  (That is one of the great things about now living in a house you have known all your life - you remember the good old days with a smile and a grin.  Even when the grown ups were probably wondering how to get themselves - and their cars - out of a jam so they could take you home.)

There are two rivers and a canal not very far from my house.  When I was at school (and I used to visit my Grandparents in this house) the road I live on used to get flooded frequently.  I am not exaggerating too much when I say that I used to think that a sharp shower was all it took to close the road.  Then two things happened.  Firstly, the bridges over the water were altered to stop the road flooding so often.   Secondly, the local councils decided to build another bridge between two main roads further along the river out of the city.

It is almost a pity they didn't also train some idiotic drivers to read roadsigns.  Particularly ones saying things like "Road Closed" and "Flood".  (It amazes me that some extremely idiotic drivers don't even take any notice of the electronic roadsigns which warn them before they ever get anywhere near the flood site.)

Anyway - I suppose I have an amusing few hours to look forward to as I watch the idiotic drivers decided to perform a three point turn in the middle of the road when they realise their mistake.  That is - if they don't try to borrow one of the driveways to reverse into so they can turn around when they realise their car isn't quite as submersible as they think (or should that read "amphibious"???).

Maybe I should send them to one part of Rotterdam - and tell them that they can give their cars a proper "water-induced" workout???  I know just the place as well!

The scariest place I have ever been to in a car (apart from an icy road bridge in the southern Netherlands where you could see nothing but water around you - and no barrier between you and the water) was a river bank in Rotterdam.  I am not exactly sure whether my mind was put at rest by the fact the river was frozen solid at that point - or it scared me further when the car I was in was parked right on the edge of it.  (At least the river didn't thaw for the duration of my stay.  Also, the car was lefthand drive - leaving me to get out on tarmac.)

The reason for me being anywhere near that particular riverbank in a car???  One of my Mum's cousins lived on the river bank.  Well, technically they live under the river bank (they still live in the same house) and their house doesn't get flooded.  At least not to my knowledge.

Rotterdam has two main rivers running through it.  The Maas and De Rotte (or The Rotter) which handily gives the city its name.

Now, if you go for a walk along the Rotter (as well as other Dutch rivers) you will notice something rather strange.  Especially if you are British.

The Dutch do not appear to have heard of floodplains.  Instead they have a system of dykes, dams, and water gates, to control the water.  The water gates near Europoort and Hoek van Holland look quite impressive close up.  They are literally large gates to keep the water out in case of high tides and storm surges.

Oh, and the Dutch have apparently built large underground storage containers to hold the excess rainfall in cities.

This means that the Dutch feel extremely comfortable building houses in plces where the rest of the world would not even bother consider dreaming about building them.  For example, on a river bank.  Not only that - but build it so that the first floor of the house is only just higher than the level of the water itself.  This means the ground floor of the house is below the level of the water.  Admittedly, the slope of the driveway means that the house isn't directly underneath the bank of the river but it is still a bit too close for my liking.

I am sorry but my English side always wonders why I am never issued with a lifejacket when I visit my relatives.

Walking along the river bank on a nice sunny day and seeing the sun reflecting off the water on my way to visit them reminds me that thr river can be a calming, tranquil place - even when it scares me.

Maybe Britain will just have to go Dutch at some point and learn to live with the power and danger of water in order to make peace with our future!





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