The driest spring on record. Water precious like oil in the unslaked Midlands and South.
"Stop bathing, shower. Don't wash your car. Plan for deserts," they said.
But then it rained.
It rained in sheets, buckets, torrents and floods. Packs of dogs and herds of cats. Lashing, pelting, chucking, pouring, tipping and pissing it down from eternally grey skies.
Clods formed claggy platforms as gardeners slithered among slugs in summer. Brave seedlings strimmed by marauding mollusc hoards. Soil morphed into marsh and mudflats as it rain, rain, rained.
Baby beetroot shivered and refused to swell in submerged allotments.
The Olympics arrived and brought a glimpse of sunshine and pride to a soggy summer. The tendrils of warmth poked into damp corners and signalled a leap into life for the waiting fleas that pounced on un-sunbathed ankles and feasted in the creases of warm waistbands.
Itching, scratching and swearing our way through the wet remains of summer, we edged back towards school in a frenzy of vacuuming, furniture spraying and rug discarding. Football crowds of fluffy toys hung by their ears from the washing line like victims. Diatomaceous earth billowed in sharp particled clouds from every surface in a bid to desiccate uninvited guests. Banished cats skulked in damp gardens, forbidden to enter the land of soft-furnishings.
Shoe sodden walks and pant-soaked commutes populated autumn. Manhole covers sprang sprouts of rain. Rivers rose and widened, rotting footbridges.
Weeds grew unchecked in squelching borders, creeping buttercup spread through new marshland habitats, lustily colonising. Rose blooms rotted, rain heavy, their glorious crimson scents giving way to brown tennis balls of dismay.
The drumming of rain heralded winter. Algae smeared windows cast a mouldy glow over the Santa-shrined windowsill. A forest of umbrellas sheltered carollers at Christmas as they shoe-skiied the once-lawn of the village green before taking food-filled indoor refuge for the festive season.
Poring over seed catalogues in armchair solace, 2012 closes with this UK gardener longing for polytunnels but hoping for sun in 2013.