My battle with the dreaded ‘black cotton’

Laikipia, Kenya By the time I set off from the farm before dawn we’d had 22in of rain in the past month. At the bottom of the valley I saw in the headlights that our lugga, or seasonal watercourse, had become a roaring torrent of brown water after yet another downpour overnight. If I tried to cross the Landcruiser would be swept away in the flood. This rainy season the land has become a sea of mud, with a thousand streams of water splashing down from the plains, our days and nights serenaded by bullfrogs. Normally I would stay put, give up on any travel and wait it out. There

A rainy day in the Highlands: Summerwater, by Sarah Moss, reviewed

There is an old Yorkshire tale about a prosperous town which, legend has it, once stood on the site of Lake Semerwater. A beggar comes looking for alms but is turned away by everyone, save for a poor couple. As he is leaving, he curses the proud townspeople and water rises up and floods their houses, leaving only the couple’s hovel high and dry. In Summerwater, her seventh novel, Sarah Moss moves this tale north to a holiday resort by a Scottish loch and transforms it from a moralistic parable into a complex reflection on the contemporary situation. But she retains the haunting images of rising water and strangers being