Since my last posting it seems the whole of the north of England has succumbed to torrential rain and floods, with ancient buildings and bridges collapsing, towns dating back to Roman times under water and many people’s homes and livelihoods ruined. And it continues with no let up in sight. The Met Office thought it a good idea to start naming significant or ‘major’ storms like hurricanes are named, from A-Z. In just a few weeks we’re on Frank though we’ve had no let up since the aptly named Abigail. At this rate we’ll be on Wendy before the end of March.
We had a couple of weeks in Harwich in December before Clive headed to Frome in Somerset to help his brother David effect some essential repairs on the house there. I stayed on the east coast until last week when I fetched my parents to spend their Christmas with my aunt Sheila and uncle Peter in Essex. I ended up driving west to Dartmouth in hideous traffic last Wednesday, getting back to Distant Drum in time for an equally hideous night of high SE winds which whip straight off the Atlantic up the River Dart, rocking all the boats more than an Elvis concert. This luckily died down on Christmas Eve and we ended up having quite a sociable Christmas with Christmas Day spent aboard Distant Drum, and in between storms it was a lovely day. Long walk and feasting, relaxing, enjoying the brief and rare spells of sunshine.
We have spent a few days visiting friends and family in Somerset and Devon, including our pals Liz and Richard who Fergus lives with, who rented a cottage in Chardstock over Christmas. We had two long squelchy walks with them, getting very wet and muddy, made up for later by lovely dinner. On the way back to Dartmouth we dropped in on my old pal Vicky at Ottery St Mary. She and her partner Terry were dismantling a stable they’d put up a couple of years ago in a field which has been sold for building houses on. On with our wellies again and more squelching through deep mud, to give them a hand. We ended up staying the night and yesterday cracked on with finishing the stable and the chicken shed too. Many hands make light work and a good job was done, though Vicky doesn’t know where she can put the stable up again, until she can find another field to rent for her daughter Issie’s horse.
We got home to DD at around 5pm last night, and after daring to glimpse the weather forecast concluded that we were in for another rollicking rollercoaster ride, all for free, care of storm Frank. Oh yes! We recorded the ropes this morning, creeech, scrooonge, creeech, scrooonge, up and down, side to side, forward and backwards, creeech, scrooonge I think about sums it up. The weather today is revolting, chucking it down with rain, gusts of 60 knots and the river running really fast. The wind is finally moving westwards from south, which gives us more shelter, and the river is calming down…. a little. I have wisely retreated to the Flavel arts centre to write this blog, where from a picture window I can watch the rain drench and the wind whip people’s hats off from the comfort of a stationary sofa on the first floor, next to the cinema. Mmmmm! I have an idea. Star Wars is on at 2.30pm. The storm is said to have it’s second coming at 3pm.
It’s not all bad. Distant Drum is safe and solid and the ropes are all good and solid too. It’s the noise the wind causes all around which is disconcerting, and would be in any circumstance, and the movement caused by the combination of wind and tide on the water, the boat and the pontoon. This all conspires to keep you on your toes, not easy when you’re trying to put your socks on.
Bog Watch update on the Dartmouth Yacht Club
Toilets get a 3 – they’re not all that. Yacht clubs are supposed to be relatively upscale private clubs and the membership fees are pretty high at this one. Visiting yachtsmen are almost always welcome and we’re invited to use the facilities at this one as part of our mooring contract for the winter. Showers? The ladies showers are out of action and have been for months. In any case they would get a big fat ZERO as the club charges £1 for a shower, bah humbug! Disgraceful I say.
Luckily we have a lovely shower aboard DD which outstrips most of the showers we’ve visited to date.
We trust your Christmas has been wonderful and wish you a very Happy New Year
PS I still have a frustrating problem with my iPhoto which keeps crashing and I think must have a corrupt file in it somewhere. Have yet to complete the repair on it with the help of Apple Support. Next week perhaps…