Monday, December 30, 2013

We were so very lucky

Floods and power cuts

Oh my but we were lucky. The storm at the beginning of last week wreaked havoc everywhere. It was so strong that we switched bedrooms in an attempt to get some sleep!

On the morning of Christmas Eve we awoke to a scene much worse than the last big storm a few weeks ago. A quick check around found we had 2 large trees down in the fields, one of which had landed on the fence in the horses field but hadn't brought the wire down so didn't require attention immediately. The other was in the second field with the sheep but they were all OK too. In the woods there were lots of trees leaning precariously but as they were leaning inwards they didn't concern us.

However, the big worry was that the power was off. It went off around 3am which I only know because a massive gust woke me up and I saw the light on the alarm clock go off. When we phoned the electricity people to report the problem we heard the longest list we'd ever heard of areas that were without power. We realised that there was little chance of our village being reconnected when major towns were without power.

Whenever the power goes off the thing I want most is a cup of tea or coffee but first I went round to check on our 2 sets of elderly neighbours who were OK and well prepared with their camping gas out and in action. Of course, the worry for older people was that their heating was off as it's hard to stay warm when you can't move around much. However, that's when wood burners come into their own.

As it looked as if the power would be off for a long time Mike went to start the generator which is linked to kitchen sockets and lights so at least we could have a cuppa. It wouldn't start, largely because someone (and I'm not naming names here but it wasn't me!) hadn't tested it recently and the battery was flat. Deep joy!

Then Mike redeemed himself by suggesting that we nip out in the car to the camping shop which was only about 6 miles away. What a journey that was. We headed down to Bodiam but had to turn back as the road was flooded. We tried another route and had to turn round because there was a massive tree across the lane. After a huge detour we finally arrived at the shop to find it heaving with like-minded people. But we came home with this sweet little burner and a kettle named 'Polly' who whistles when her water is boiling.

How sweet
That cup of tea was the best I've ever tasted and it was helped down by a slice of scrummy panettone which, thankfully, I'd made the day before.

After all that I still hadn't been for my run so I trotted off to assess the extent of the damage in the village. There were branches everywhere, a tree leaning across the lane at a 45 degree angle, supported only by the power cable. All I could hear was the sound of chainsaws and tractors as people attempted to clear what they could. As most of our lanes are lined with trees it didn't seem very safe to run along there so I headed off across the squelchy fields and followed some of the footpaths.

It was still raining when I left home and everywhere looked really dreary. The first 2 photos show glimpses of the flooding in Bodiam.

The run-off from higher ground formed new streams which cascaded towards the lower ground washing everything out of their way.

This stream is actually the footpath and I had to pick my way carefully along it until……...

…I encountered this tree across 2 boundary fences. Its side-branches had already been chopped off but it was too low to go underneath so I had to jump up and scramble over it.


Then 2 good things happened:

Number 1 - the sky started to clear and the sun came out which made everything seem so much better immediately.

I love the colour of the bracken against the bright blue sky!

Number 2 - I met a neighbour from the village who offered to come and help get the generator started. 20 minutes later he was round at our house with jump leads and the generator was up and running. He even left them with us in case we had any further problems and he wouldn't take anything for doing it. Thank you so much Derek, you were our hero and I think I might knit you a hat as a thank you.

The icing on the cake though came at 5pm when everyone had resigned themselves to being without power on Christmas Day - the power came back on. Apparently, as the problem in our area was quick to fix we were given a high priority as there are a large number of older people, with high proportion of them with special care needs, in our village.

Just a few miles away there is a village that has been without power all last week and on the news last night they still hadn't been reconnected. Not only are some people still without power, there are many people whose homes were flooded and my thoughts are with them as I realise just how lucky we were.

Christmas Day and beyond

On Christmas morning it has become a tradition that I go for a short run dressed in a silly costume. We somehow forgot to take a photo of me, suffice to say I looked ridiculous in my sparkly Santa hat and dress! It was a lovely morning for a run and I actually prefer a sunny Christmas Day to a snowy one.

I was just taking a photo of these gorgeous red berries when a neighbour spotted me and invited me in for a glass of champers. Well it would have been rude not to!

So my run ended up at just 2 miles as I didn't want to leave Mike alone for too long. After lunch we had a nice walk into the village and back to stretch our legs and met more neighbours who plied us with drink.

On Boxing Day the weather was bright again so I ventured down to Bodiam to see if the water had subsided. Thankfully it had cleared from the road but the whole of the valley was covered in lakes. It looked really pretty with the light reflected off the water.


Beautiful Bodiam Castle - the water had gone over the ridge of green that you see in front of it which is 3 feet higher that the top of the water level shown!

The clubhouse was built on stilts because of flooding but the water rose much higher and it was flooded inside - you can just make out the goal nets of the football pitch on the left
The River Rother, 3 x normal width
The 'overflow' car park at Bodiam Castle - how very apt!
Picnic anyone? 

Keeper's Cottage looks as if it's on the shore of a lake but those are all fields
This line of telegraph poles runs through a field, not along a path
 Greylag geese (I think, as they didn't sound like Canada geese)
A ruined crop 
I love the reflections in the moat
Even the pill box was flooded
Where'd the path go?
A mid-sized tree uprooted and flung far away from where it grew
The railway line was partially submerged in places

I've run out of time now but will be back soon with more news and a final total of my mileage for 2013 - after yesterday's run it was 1805 miles but I've still got a run to do tomorrow; then it will be the start of my 2014 challenge.

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