Some clichés are more accurate than others, and one that is especially true is that it doesn’t take an awful lot to get the English talking about the weather, in fact it almost counts as a national pastime.
So it’s no surprise that one of the subjects for workplace small talk yesterday was the imminent arrival of a weather system so powerful that it warranted an amber weather warning from the meteorological office.
Yes, “storm Imogen” was coming.
The Met office began a project to name wind storms at the end of last year and Imogen was the latest system to arrive on our shores, (apparently we are soon to be battered by Jake, Katie and Lawrence) promising to spread 70 – 80mph winds, heavy rain, hail and general unpleasantness across the country from the early hours of Monday morning.
Well, they weren’t kidding.
Just a quick look out of the window at lunchtime was enough to establish that Imogen was indeed upon us and my first thought was; “I hope the gazebo is still securely tied down” because, as I mentioned in January, it nearly escaped from the garden the last time we had gale force winds.
I wasn’t too concerned though, I had made pretty certain it was rigidly anchored to as many solid objects as possible and it had remained intact so far.
However, I became progressively less confident as I drove home from work.
The first indication that all might not be well was the horrendous traffic gridlock that blocked every road going into Barnstaple, meaning that a journey which usually takes 15 – 20 minutes took nearly an hour.
Then, as I walked in the front door of the flats, our neighbour came out and informed me that the power was out and wasn’t due to be reconnected until 10p.m.
Great, no heating, no lights and no phone or internet.
Rhonda was away doing a training course and had been due to pick Audrey up from a friend’s house on her way home, but there was no sign of them and no way to contact them either, so I dug out some candles while it was still light enough to find them and went out to check on the gazebo.
Or should I say, the ex-gazebo…
Oh bollocks (again).
I guess I should be grateful that the canopy stayed tied to the fence, otherwise there’s no way of telling how far away the entire thing may have flown. As it was, I imagine that its death throes were quite spectacular to watch, because it really is completely destroyed this time.
I didn’t even bother attempting to resurrect it, I just left it in a sad little heap and went back in the warm.
Rhonda and Audrey finally arrived about an hour later, after getting trapped in traffic chaos due to an overturned truck and trailer blocking the main road.
Fortunately by then I’d found two sets of battery powered Christmas tree lights to go with the candles, so at least I could see to make a salad.
Audrey thought it was all terribly exciting and (on the understanding that it doesn’t happen too often) there was something quite pleasant about the two hours before the power came back, sitting quietly and chatting by candlelight.
I’ll still be glad of a hot meal tonight though.