Storm Doris!


Dateline 23/2/2017

10.00 a.m.

I had a good night’s sleep.

I wake up hearing the wind. The skies are clear so far but high, high clouds are being driven across the heavens. Out of the front bedroom window I look to see what has happened to the house at the end of the cul-de-sac that is having roofing felt replaced: it has stood overnight without the shell of tiles (now as I look stacked on the scaffolding alongside the house).

Within ten minutes the contractors are there, up the ladders, without, I notice in some alarm, hard hats. They sway about like sailors in a tropical storm and, when next I check, are nowhere to be seen. The roof, sans tiles will have to look after itself it seems.

But, made of sterner, if less sensible stuff, I am determined to get up on the plot. There’s digging to be done after all.

In the warmth and shelter of the car cabin – heated seats available, reversing camera, air conditioning, rain sensitive windscreen wipers – the radio is defaulting to BBC WM (local sports news/comments).

The Scouse presenter is talking about the discovery of seven planets discovered by astronomers that seem capable of supporting life and giving out news of the impacts of “Storm Doris”:

“Our road this morning, ‘cos it’s recycling day there’s bins, plastic bags, cans, tins all blowin’ along; people chasing their stuff, tryin’ to get it back …”

“… like a scene from that film … you know the one, they show it every Christmas* … stats off in black and white, then bursts into colour …”

“… guy called Steve has lost his blue bin and his garden shed. Poor Steve, wonder where that shed’s ended up …”

It hasn’t started raining here yet. At least not enough to activate the wipers. I pull in to the approach to the “top gate”. Just getting out of the car is a trial, the wind charging up the hill. I push the heavy gate open, drop in the peg that’ll hold it open, turn to go back and drive the car in … the peg has been torn out, the gate is blowing towards me at a rate of knots … I stand back as it bangs loudly against the post. Hmmm, I might have had the car part-way through that gate … this new car that I’m not allowed to carry dirty stuff in (yet)!

I decide to go in through the bottom gate; noticing as I do that there’s a new container on site. I drive around. This time, at the bottom of the slope there is a) less wind and b) the wind should be blowing the gates open rather than shut. I drive through, inspect the plots. No further depredations/progress with the boundary dispute (he has now cut off the concrete fence pots and removed his gravel boards (meaning that the soil from the allotment will, inevitably cascade onto his side of the established boundary).

But the wind is wreaking some damage.

By the time I have “inspected” the plots for any wind damage/effects my hands are freezing. And it has started raining. Discretion being the better part of valour I scuttle back to the car and leave with a screech of tyres that has Jack wondering if there’s a Hollywood get-away going on. Jack owns the nursery opposite the allotments, is an acquaintance, is oiling the hinges of a metal gate as, quite accidentally, I scream away past the school fences.

The guy on the radio is now talking to new people.

“Who’s to say there is no other life out there?”

“And how can you prove there isn’t?”

Another, more urgent voice comes on.

“Just to let your listeners know there’s a tree down in Westbourne Avenue. By the Botanical Gardens. It’s blocked the entire road. A van driver was involved. His van got crushed, but he’s OK …”

I am pulling into our drive now.

Next door a whole trampoline has blown through a fence panel and into our neighbour’s garden. It’s upside down, hooked on a fence post apparently. The two trees nearby crowned with nests are being buffeted, this way, that way: a true test for the durability of the nests.


Watch this space …

* turns out it’s The Wizard of Oz.


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