Millie and Henry’s mud-spattered bare feet patter across the stepping stones as the tributary gently babbles just inches below. The stream the young siblings are crossing outside their picturesque family home cuts through a marsh, which can partly or wholly disappear when the River Avon swells at high tide.
To flood the marsh, the river engulfs the adjacent tidal road, a short stretch of highway in Aveton Gifford that has been a brushstroke alongside the Avon for centuries.
And it’s not the only thing ‘At least when the house floods, the water has been filtered through the ground so you know it’s clean’ that can get submerged. “At least when the house floods, the water has been filtered through the ground so you know it’s clean,” remarks the children’s grandmother Cedar Dickey, whose late father Henry RussellSmith bought the house in 1985 when he retired.
“And it’s tidal here, so you know it will go away again. Flooding in an urban area would be much worse as it comes up through the drains.”
Nine family members - across four generations - currently live in the house, and Cedar, along with her daughter Pandora (Millie and Henry’s mother) and son James, animatedly describes the well-defined plan of moving belongings and traversing the kitchen on chairs should the Avon breach the threshold.
“My parents had these amazing, handmade carpets which they would take up after a flood and send them away to be professionally dried, but after daddy died we decided to go for hard floors,” Cedar adds.
As a result, any floods -, which only impact the original part of the house and not its elevated extensions - are cleaned up in hours.
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