Devonian Road Slip

And just when we thought that it was safe to venture back out into the fields after a day of relative calm last Thursday, the hysterical – and apparently lost, it’s supposed to be hovering over Scotland – Jet Stream vomited up another of its charming little storms to rearrange everything that wasn’t nailed down for us again. I appreciate that this won’t exactly be news for anyone who has been outdoors, or on the receiving end of the media, or has a house that has windows in it, but the weather has again been very exciting indeed in our little enclave of Devon.

For our part, things started to get a little lively at about the time that I was sticking last week’s blog online. I was obviously absolutely livid, as the timing meant that I was unable to do additional whining about the weather (I have begun to refer to the apocalyptic scenes outside as “Content”). The trees in the wood behind the house started swaying, the occasional vine guard cartwheeled past the front door and the wind turbine continued to defy the laws of physics and generate exactly no power.

We had Lucy’s father over for the weekend, so I took the opportunity to cry off work for the afternoon and we popped out for essential provisions (yep, booze). Our route to anywhere other than darkest Dartmoor from the vineyard takes us past the river Teign at the bottom of the lane. The Teign is a glorious, tree lined, junior sort of a river at the best of times, frequented by fly fishing and picnicking types. It was in full on, not picnicking, Mr Hyde mode and doing a serviceable impression of the Amazon by the time that we drove past; it’s usual crystal clear, calming water transformed into an angry brown torrent. It was up to the level of the carriageway and had a couple of huge trees floating around in it. Returning from the nearest shop, we agreed that it might be a good idea to turn back and batten down the hatches for the evening.

On arrival back at Château Huxbear, Lucy looked me up and down, noted that I had something relatively smart on for the first time in weeks and sent me back into the rain and mud to put the chicken coop together. In fairness, she and a passing friend had heroically rescued a chicken from under it not ten minutes before. The wind had used the roof (that was now properly attached) as a handy sail to pick the whole thing up and dump it back down on one of our unfortunate avian chums*. As the evening progressed things became even more exciting. The 12′ trampoline (complete with one of those child injury defying net things) that had made its own way over a 3′ fence and into the garden on Wednesday, turned around and made its way back out of the garden, and roughly back to where it belongs via the newly repaired shed. The shed still bears the scar, but is mercifully still upright. By the time that I was breaking up a fight between the car and a plastic climbing frame, it was clear that it was time to stick my metaphorical head in the sand and my actual body in bed and pretend that it wasn’t happening.

*Sadly, said avian chum keeled over and died two days later. Needless to say, the one that we call Survivor, which was the only remaining one from the first chicken massacre, is still happily pecking around the new bird house even as I type. And presumably wondering why she doesn’t have anyone to play with. The new hen house is essentially bomb proof, is very nearly finished and will have more chickens in it in short order. Lucy also tells me that it looks like an oven, but one can’t have everything. More on this next week.

As we emerged on Saturday, it appeared that everything must have calmed down just as soon as we turned in for the night as there didn’t seem to be much else that was out of place. We were breakfasting and enjoying a news story about the roof blowing off the smoking shelter at the Met Office, when it occurred to me that it’s just possible that the rest of the country may have outdone us again, and that we should probably get on with counting our blessings.

We didn’t have far to go to see that a wonky shed isn’t entirely newsworthy. Our little valley has had its own dose of misery. The road through it, which is cleverly cut into the hill fractionally above the level of the river, had started to lose its foundations into the river about five years or so ago and is periodically, never properly, repaired. The trees that were floating around in the river on Friday have taken quite a lot of those foundations with them and the side of the road closest to the river is sort of partly absent. Which promises to necessitate diversions – that are as picturesque as they are epic – until approximately the end of time.

But what’s this? Free material for foundations for the builders that has magically appeared on the carriageway? Nope. It’s a whopping great landslip from the field above the lane on Wednesday, to remind the poor benighted thing that it can be assaulted from above as well as below. It’s funny, I thought that we’d be in Panama or somewhere equally exciting before landslips became a problem. No matter. I have a good feeling about next week’s weather, so it’s going to be okay. And therefore, I promise that next week’s blog is not going to be about the weather. Honest.

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