Friday, 9 December 2011

The day after

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I wrote this in my head at about eleven o’clock this morning. It was quite, quite dazzlingly good. I cannot now recall one word. So sorry about that.

The storm raged all night. At one point, there were noises like gunshots outside. The blast of the wind made a strange, overwhelming buffeting sound, a wall of noise, the kind of noise that is entire; it was not coming from one direction or another, it was all around. It was quite peculiar and rather sinister and almost impossible to describe in words.

About thirty miles north-west from here, blasts were recorded at 165 miles an hour. Ours were estimated to be at around 90. 73 mph is a Force 12 on the Beaufort Scale. It really was an official hurricane.

I hoped two things: that the roof would not come off (it is old and many of the slates are loose), and that my three beloved Scots pines would survive. When I went out at ten, they were waving about like madly dancing sailors on a stormy sea.

Then the power went off. I hunkered down for the long haul. I could not imagine any bold engineer going out in these storms. I put on three jumpers, boot socks, and a huge Indian scarf; threw two duvets and five blankets on the bed, installed The Pigeon, lit 22 candles (my mania for scented candles finally coming into its own), got into bed, and read an excellent book on the 2008 financial collapse, one of my favourite, grisly subjects.

The miracle was that a brave engineer did go out. The lights were back on by midnight. We are very, very lucky. There are still 50,000 houses, it just said on the news, which are blacked out. People must be freezing; it’s a faint one degree outside.

This morning, everything was quite still again. I beat the bounds, looking for fallen trees. There were torn branches everywhere, as if a crazed giant had gone mad in the night, and rushed about clawing at the trees. One of the Wellingtonias had suffered, and a couple of thin pines were down in the small wood, but all my favourites were still standing. The limes, the beeches, the oaks, the birches, were safe. I felt passionately glad.

I ran into The Landlord, looking even more smart and important than usual. He had been out last night, driving through the storm, madly.

‘How was it?’ I said.

‘Pretty hairy,’ he said. He is the boldest driver I know; if he says it was hairy, it was hairy.

We talked for a bit. Then he said, out of the blue:

‘Do you know what a tittle is?’

‘As in tittle-tattle?’ I said, playing for time.

I am supposed to be the resident genius on grammar and linguistics. It is a reputation I have carefully cultivated. It’s all nonsense of course; I make terrible howlers all the time. But I quite like my unearned position on the Compound.

‘Yes,’ he said.

‘Bugger,’ I said. ‘You’ve got me.’

He was delighted.

‘Wait, wait,’ I said, hearing the sound of the bottom of the barrel being scraped. ‘Let me guess. The small bobbin hanging from an embroidery hoop?’

‘No,’ he said. He was beside himself.

‘Oh, go on then,’ I said.

‘It’s the dot over an i,’ he said.

‘Bloody marvellous,’ I shouted. I was so thrilled to have this information that I quite forgave him for catching me out.

I have since looked it up. It also means jot or whit, which is just as pleasing. From now on, I shall be saying, with some insouciance: I care not a tittle.

Heavy snow now outside. I’m going to put this post up before the power goes again. If you don't hear from me tomorrow, it means the Pidge and I shall be in the bunker, eating tuna out of a tin.

Photographs of the day.

The debris:

9 Dec 1 09-12-2011 14-18-47

9 Dec 2 09-12-2011 14-20-26

9 Dec 4 09-12-2011 14-23-33

9 Dec 10 09-12-2011 14-26-35

9 Dec 11 09-12-2011 14-29-57

This one was amazing. I touched the new wood; it was like a living thing. Sometimes I think wood is the most beautiful substance in the entire world:

9 Dec 5 09-12-2011 14-24-23

9 Dec 6 09-12-2011 14-25-15

9 Dec 7 09-12-2011 14-25-29

9 Dec 8 09-12-2011 14-25-33

The Pigeon took up guard beside it:

9 Dec 9 09-12-2011 14-25-42

But look what was still standing:

9 Dec 15 09-12-2011 14-21-17

9 Dec 16 09-12-2011 14-30-45

9 Dec 17 09-12-2011 14-26-39

So sad there is no beech avenue today; my camera battery ran out before I got to it. But it is still there, never fear.

My lovely girl, all lit up by the winter sun:

9 Dec 20 09-12-2011 14-25-53

Hill, today in widescreen:


  1. We heard about the storm on our New Zealand news. So glad you are safe.

  2. Are you sure Pigeon is "guarding" that tree...or is she simply trying to figure out how to carry off that "big stick"?

  3. I thought of you when they said the electricity had gone; couldn't imagine how you'd like being without connectivity for too long! Good that the pines survived and good that you didn't have to endure darkness for long. Lou x

  4. I'm so glad you got power back. We were without power, some people for more than a week, after that Halloween/late October storm. I was very glad to have a fireplace! No hill?

    And I agree with Pat! Hope you have kept power...

  5. Poor you sans power. I just returned from ten days away to no boiler - not even a drop of hot water, so I understand. Waiting vainly for plumber now. But your blog really warmed me up when I needed it most so thank you! xx Rachel

  6. Weird... just two nights ago, here on Long Island, I couldn't got to sleep until 3am because of the exact same thing! Roaring freight trains approaching the house (sounded like), all my favorite trees doing the limbo without the benefit of pina coladas, my patio table was nearly done in by the buffeted umbrella. I donned a jacket and shoes and ran out at 2am (it was also pouring down rain) to rescue the umbrella. The lights flickered a couple of times, but did not go off. The next day Bear had to find a different way to drive to and from work, as the main roads were shut down due to wrecked power lines all over the place!

    So glad your favorite trees survived (mine did too)... and that you had the Pidge to curl up with during the storm.


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