There’s a reason why we don’t prepare too well for weather in Blighty. That’s because we have to be prepared at all times for all seasons – and for everything to change twice or thrice in a day at the drop of a bowler hat.
Yesterday was Arctic, everything was frozen and I remained sewn into my earmuffs, favourite faux-fur codpiece and whale-blubber-lined boots. Snow and ice lay on my deck, the wind was howling fit to burst eardrums and our mooring lines were creaking very theatrically.
Today, I wore no jacket as I squeegeed off my solar panels at seven of the morning o’clock. It was still windy, but with none of the bite. The snow has gone, the ice has gone, because Mr Stove was still roaring I had to open bow doors and side-hatch to prevent myself passing out with a fit of the over-warm vapours.
Tomorrow it might be either, or it may be something different.
Today, while the Cardinal’s solar panels fed and I soaked up the rays of the sun, Infracombe in Devon – a couple of hundred miles distant and to the south on this tiny North-Atlantic island – is cut off by deep snow-drifts, wholly inaccessible. Folk in other, closer, northern towns and cities are sliding apex over fundament on ice covering every mild incline.
We can’t even rely on the moment, change just ten or twenty miles distant and the weather here might be an entirely different season. If you went to work on a snowmobile you’d look like a right plonker by lunchtime when the snow had all disappeared. Forget to take a coat with you though – at any time of the year – and there’s a high probability that you’ll be a hypothermia case by tiffin-time, with an NHS nurse doing unspeakable things to your core-temperature with hot, sweet tea, a funnel and a rectal hosepipe from B&Q. There’s just no predicting it.
Other countries have the luxury of fitting their Saabs and Volvos with snow-tyres in October and then relying upon them until March or April. In England you’d need to change wheels and tyres three times before getting to the bottom of the average household driveway.
No wonder folk laugh at us. I mean, laugh with us, yes, yes, that’s it, the world is laughing with us, aren’t you?
It would be mean to laugh at us.
Gilet, jacket, coat, hat (selection), umbrella, survival poncho, gloves, mittens, scarf, earmuffs, boots, wellingtons, flip-flops, Edwardian bathers, lip-balm and sunscreen – we need to pack it all, all of the time.
Even if the weather today did turn the blackbirds and sparrows and starlings and ducks all as randy as hell. It was most unseemly. I had to issue several warnings. One or two of the robins are going to need to take the “morning after” pill tomorrow, latest.
The canal breach is still being assessed. The low-down in the marina club-houses is that “the they” are going to try for some sort of temporary fix using a steel trough to span the breach and then repair it in earnest next winter. That would be dandy, I have my fingers crossed.
The boats stranded aground in Middlewich are to be rescued by using a temporary dam between them and the breach and then pumping water up from the Trent & Mersey to briefly re-water that section so that they can be moved to safety.
No news of the chap who was rescued from his boat. He’s probably still gibbering somewhere, I know that I would be.
No news either of the hand-gun that was found. Some silly sod doubtless used it to bump off the Vicar or Colonel Mustard and then dumped it in the canal thinking that it wouldn’t be found for centuries. Watson and Sherlock Holmes are poring over it in the study of 221b Baker Street even as I type, and an arrest is expected before the next commercial break.
While clement, it was still a tad windy today for a single-hander chap to move his boat, and looks to be so for a couple of days more, so the Cardinal and I will bob about here for a while yet.
I do have to wonder what tomorrow will bring. Will Ilfracombe reconnect with the world? Will the daffodils appear? Shall I drag out the cauldron and stir up another nuclear curry, or should I bake bread and go with the soup option? Will I be woken again by squirrels mating on the rear deck?
Who knows? Certainly not I.
Ian H., Admiral (Retired).