Eunice - is that you?

On Friday my part of the UK was under an amber weather warning in relation to the oncoming Storm Eunice.  In some parts of the country there was a red weather warning with means 'stay at home, danger to life', so the news was full of very scary warnings.  

I confess to have stopped watching the news a couple of years ago.  After never being 'that person', it turned out that the frightening news about the pandemic day after day, week after week, made me 'that person' and it reduced my stress levels hugely when I started avoiding the news, particularly the television news.  I do still listen to the radio news especially in the morning and on the morning of Storm Eunice the news was full of fear and dread for what was coming our way.  Here in the mild middle of the country Storm Dudley had not wreaked as much havoc as he had in the north.  I had a bit of a hairy drive home from work in blustery torrential rain, but it was ok with care.  Storm Eunice promised more fear and potential damage.

Eunice (greek for good victory apparently.... odd choice for the name of a storm..... anyhoo....) was due to be at her worst at mid-day for us.  The morning started a little breezy and I went out into the garden to bring in the bird feeders, take down the hanging basket that lives in the Whitby Arch and rescue the wind chimes.  I know my neighbours will be very relieved to know that the wind chimes will be ok, I am sure they will miss them whilst they are down.

I stood for a moment to observe the garden and check for the areas that might be most at risk.  There was nothing I could do to reduce this risk, but I made a few mental notes on what I might need to check first when the storm was over.  There was a calm at that moment, the sun was trying to come out and there were patches of blue sky.  The clouds were moving quickly overhead with that urgency that meant they had somewhere to be or somewhere to get away from.  Next door's dog was barking and I wondered if he foretelling doom similar to when dogs bark before an earthquake.  I listened out for bees flying backwards with a soft zzub zzub zzub.  Maybe the bees have already left the area and gone back to their home planet until it safe to return.  As I stood there two of my cats: Fluffy Pete and Esme poddled out into the garden.  Fluffy Pete sniffed the air and started to trot across the lawn.  He trots, bouncily and with great purpose but there is a point in most of his walks where the satellite goes out of range and he forgets where he is going.  The satellite had clearly moved as he paused and looked around at Esme.  Esme glared at him with her usual 'don't even think it' stare and he decided it might not be so much fun to see if she wanted to play chase after all. 

I returned indoors and Fluffy Pete and Esme followed me in.  They decided it was a good day for snoozing indoors (as are most days in all honesty) and went to sleep in their favourite places.

Esme has currently taken to nesting in the Sewing Room.  She decides to pull all of the interfacing scraps out of the drawer and sleep on it.  This seems like a very good way to see out a stormy day to me.

The storm grew quite slowly over the morning, starting quite breezy, to very breezy to really quite gusty.  Here in the middle the gusts only reached around 70 mph, this is only compared to what it was like in the south where it got to over 100 mph and quite frankly I have difficulty imagining what that would be like other than to know I would have been very scared.  Very.  The wind here did not so much howl, as double glazing deadens the sounds of the world outside.  Does drum up and down the chimneys and this is where I hear it most.  Whilst in terms of traffic the lack of sound is good, in terms of the rest of the noise from outside it is a false vacuum that disconnects me.  I cannot hear the bird song unless the window is open, I cannot hear the breeze in the trees or the noises of foxes chattering in the garden.  So I watch the storm, I watch the conifer in next door's front garden bending over to look at its feet.  I wonder how much bend there is in that tree, it turns out quite a lot.  I watch the young cypress trees in my front garden bending in unison like ballet dancers at the barre.  There is a grace in the stress the wind is putting upon them.  I wander upstairs and carefully open the bathroom window and suddenly the sound is upon me.  It is a steady barrage of noise, roaring through the garden.  As most of the trees are not in leaf yet the wind is generally just rushing through them with little resistance to hold them back.  I have a couple of trees heavy in ivy and these I worry about in such conditions.  I shut the window and retreat downstairs to the general quiet, punctuated when the rain starts hurling itself at the windows.  The conservatory acts as a sound box, amplifying the weather sounds.  It feels like it is trying to make up for the quiet in the rest of the house; the conservatory goes loud when the rest go soft.  

Then I hear a thump.  I cannot tell where the thump has come from or landed, but it was a thump and thumps are generally not good news and especially not in a storm.  I start looking out of windows but cannot see anything so I nip outside and there on the ground is a lump of concrete.  I look up, see where it has come from and sigh.  Some of the gable flashing has decided to discover gravity.

After a few hours calm starts to restore, but it is dark and I cannot check what else might have happened in terms of damage.  So it is the next day when I get time to inspect.  Before I set foot outdoors I have already uttered one expletive.
As I open the lounge curtains I see this (insert four letter word of choice), staring back at me with a  tombstone glare.  I noted the amount of annual weeds starting to appear, sprinkling themselves around like hundreds and thousands, which led to another four letter curse as there are hundreds and thousands of them.  

I go out and inspect the roof and then check the greenhouse.  One of the roof vent brackets has become detached and I fetch the stepladder to work out how to fix it.  After a few minutes I am feeling mightily pleased with myself as I have worked it out and fixed the bracket.  Then I wander the garden which is squelchy mcsquelchy underfoot.  I check the hedge trees and all seem fine.  Some of the winter detritus in the garden is flattened but actually on cursory glance the garden seems to be unscathed.

I look back to the roof, I sigh again.  Thankfully I had already got a roofer coming next week to do some other work.  A quick text and a couple of more jobs are added to the list.  I consider myself very lucky as I know we got away with the worst of the storm missing us completely.  I start to hope we have a pause before we get another storm, but no such luck.  Storm Franklin appears quite quickly, and is a storm of more rain and hail and also strong winds.  It feels like we are being visited by the three ghosts from A Christmas Carol in storm-guise and Storm Franklin does seem to be hitting us worse than its predecessors, do I fear it most of all?  I worry about the other slates deciding to take a tumble so I turn the tv up loud and try and pretend that I cannot hear the rain on the windows.  I'd be singing a song about the sun coming out on a following day if I knew one....... or the day after.....

Take care and be kind.

For more from the Blackberry Garden follow me on Twitter Facebook and Instagram


  1. Beautifully written and evocative of one's life embedded in the garden.

    Eunice was scary here in East Essex, with some trees down and various flying things that were never meant to fly. However, specifically in this location it was fortunately rather less violent than the Great Storm of 1987, where I listened to my brick built house shudder and move for hours in the darkness.

    My garden survived relatively unflustered, although I expect to find parts of my neighbour's greenhouse in my flower beds for years to come.

    Thanks for the piece.


Post a Comment

Comments are approved before being published