At the church, brave wet people came in, shaking umbrellas. JP turned up and taught us all a song. It's a song for a rainy day he said. The tune came to him in a dream he told me later, after he'd been watching an alignment of the planets earlier this year, at Cairnholy.
I read poems about travel and the journey – through various different parts of the world. Sandy Hutchison read his work on places in Italy and Scotland and Lesley Harrison read short poems about birds, and a sequence from travelling in Mongolia, where she used to live.
After the reading J and I go for a walk along a path heading for the botanical gardens. At the end of the path the river, the Water of Leith, has spilled over its banks and the road is completely submerged.
We go round by the wall, where it's only a few inches deep, cross the road beyond the water and I want to go further along the path by the river even though there is a temporary gate blocking off the path and saying it's closed. J pulls the gate back and we slip through. The river is deep and brown, frothing and surging and very close to the top of the wall that separates it from the houses just beyond. Sandbags are piled behind the wall. A sign declares that the flood prevention scheme is in operation. The bottom of the sign is underwater. The path too further on, is underwater.
We climb up the bank which is covered in very wet ivy-like undergrowth. Here and there a soggy branch to clutch, to pull us up, but mostly it's steep and slippy mud. But I do not want to slip, with the surging frothy river waiting to break our fall. But of course we do slip, first J and later I do, and though we help each other up I'm not sure if we're pulling each other up or dragging each other down. Besides it's hard to breathe, we're laughing so much. J's light trousers and my white skirt are caked in mud.
Back onto the path where it re-emerges from the water, we see an interesting sign for the Swim Centre. At the end of the path we walk back by the road. Near the car, a swan emerges from a nearby pond, and walks slowly along the road. A second one follows it. I feel slightly alarmed at the swans walking down the road. At the end is the main street in Stockbridge, full of traffic. But they are clearly determined. Near the end of the road I am very pleased to see that they turn left into the playing fields. Here we are says J, fretting about them and it's probably their daily walk.