Railway lines tremble unsupported above the English Channel. Beach huts surf a residential road towards a town centre. Boulders tossed by furious seas smash through the windows of a seaside hotel. And Eric stands at the kitchen door gazing out at the quagmire that once was our garden.
Hundreds of years ago this village was a port, then the landed gentry of the time decided to let the river silt up until it was no longer navigable but you’d never know that now. Drive past on the main road and you’d believe you were looking across an estuary. Above and to the left of Eric in the picture, you might spot my tide clock – a fun Christmas present of a couple of years ago that’s become an essential bit of kit. Can we get out of the village and go to the shop? Better check when high water is.
Getting out of the village is one thing, getting back in is more of a worry. Will the river have broken its banks before I return? Will I have to wait until the torrent ebbs away? Will Eric piddle on the kitchen floor in desperation because I’m not there to let him out? Thank goodness I live on a hill. I don’t have to fear flood water seeping into my house, unlike those who live in the village centre – and the beleaguered owners of the ancient, working watermill. I’m more concerned about waking up with a wind-thrown tree across my bed or discovering that a landslip has carried me away to a new location.
I’m lucky though. I have electricity and the gales mean that there’s plenty of fallen branches to burn on my wood stove. Should it ever be safe to go near the woods again, I will collect some. I have to keep my fire going, Eric feels the cold. Especially as when I force him out the door for a walk, he gets drenched, poor lad.
Meanwhile, in my bathroom there’s a flightless magpie called Murgatroyd who’s waiting impatiently for me to build her an outdoor aviary. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha …