I would like to thank everyone who was kind enough to enquire whether the gardeners and croft garden had survived the storm on Thursday. The house on the headland, the cottage, the garden and of course the gardeners are all safe and intact. Although the garden is looking a bit like the morning after the night before, as are the gardeners after a sleepless night!
If you are perverse enough to choose to live on a small island exposed to the full force of northern Atlantic gales you have to expect that the weather will cut rough at times.
We rely on the Shipping Forecast for our weather predictions and normally wake to hear a familiar voice on BBC Radio 4 announcing “here is the shipping forecast issued by the Met Office, on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.” The Shipping Forecast has always had an aura of romance for me which began as a child when my father taught me the shipping areas and introduced me to its enigmatic and rhythmical phrases, creating visions of distant northern islands and remote lighthouses beset by stormy seas.
“There are warnings of gales in Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire, Rockall, Malin, Hebrides, Bailey, Fair Isle, Faeroes, South-east Iceland” is par for the course, and I only normally pay attention when we get to “Violent Storm Force 11 perhaps Hurricane Force 12“. Then it is time to batten down the hatches, make sure that the torches, candles and matches are to hand; fill the spare log buckets, bring supplies in from the shed and most importantly find the hot water bottles.
On Wednesday evening the wind began to rise and the squalls were accompanied by strong gust and battalions of hail and rain. As predicted it was going to be a stormy night. Around 3 am it sounded as if the whole of Valhalla, with a full contingent of Valkyries and Norse heroes, were partying on the roof and hurling hailstones the size of meteorites at the windows. It was when Thor joined in with a thunderstorm that I burrowed under the duvet with my head under the pillows! By dawn the wind had subsided to a mere severe gale and it was just light enough to see that the cottage by the sea and the polytunnel were still there.
The strength of the wind is awesome and the combination of the north-westerly gale and a spring tide has re-arranged the topography of our beach. Fortunately we are protected by the reef and sitting on a rocky headland are above storm surge levels; unlike the inhabitants of the east coast of England who have suffered from the devastating effects of the power of the sea, and for whom I have great sympathy.