The heatwave turned Vulscombe Farm into something of a prairie with the alpacas eating what can only be described as standing hay. The lactating mums and their cria, all 70 of them, have been piling into the water. We have piped water into small troughs in every field throughout the farm but to give everyone the opportunity to drink as much as they liked we took out freestanding water troughs as well. Some days they went through 200 litres which is carried to them in 25 litre flagons. It has improved my upper body strength no end.
Not that the sun seemed to worry them as they lounged around in the shade of our Devon hedges or lay out in the middle of the field sun bathing while the cria raced around playing tag. Alpacas are do much better at this than humans.
The only cool place was the woodshed so we retreated there and cut up loads of logs for the winter. I am very proud of my walls.
It broke on Monday with a humdinger of a thunderstorm, the gutters couldn’t cope and rain was flying into the barn. We even had our own waterspout that was flying into the air from the gutters at the back of the barn.
This all takes me back to the summer of ’76. I was a news reporter on the Daily Mirror and the default headline was ‘Phew! What a Scorcher’. In those days coppers patrolling the beach wore knotted hankies on their heads, people queued at standpipes in the street and the poor Minister for Drought got roundly castigated for his ‘share a bath’ campaign. Best of all the Europeans sent us a plague of ladybirds who literally clogged up machinery this side of the channel.
We lived in a tiny flat in Clipstone Street, London W1, marvellously described by the estate agent as being ‘in the shadow of the Post Office tower’ when it was eventually sold. When the heatwave broke one evening with a massive storm and huge raindrops you could smell the steaming asphalt. We opened the windows, turned up the record player to maximum playing Ground Control to Major Tom and danced in the street. Luckily the neighbours joined in.