Post-Ophelia. Pre-Brian.

It has been quite a week at Rees Acres. We are used to wind and rain here on our hillside but I have not enjoyed/endured a storm like Ophelia before anywhere.

One of the joys of living here is the weather, in towns or cities you tend to be concerned with, “am I going to get wet walking to the car, bus, train or whilst on my bike”; here, a few miles from the Fastnet Rock I listen to the shipping forecast and know what’s going to happen. I can watch the rain clouds coming towards us, or see them pass and leave their contents on the land a mile or two away, knowing that our turn will come soon enough.

On nights where there is calm, but a storm is forecast, I can hear the noise of the sea passing up and over the hill behind our home. On clear nights the stars in the heavens are magnificent, with little light pollution to distract you.

We lost power for 24 hours or so, that’s long enough to be a novelty and quite enjoyable in many ways. With a wood burner, a gas hob and plenty of candles and batteries we were safe, warm and dry and well fed. Intermittent broadband is, in the grand scheme of things, a minor irritation and a very “first world” problem. Others, not far from here have been without power and water for close on five days, the people doing the repairs have had to stop because of the increasing winds so they will be without until Sunday at the earliest.

We feel as if we have more neighbours, more people who are looking out for us, who will miss us here in a sparsely populated area than we ever did when we lived in the middle of Cheltenham – but that may be my rose tinted specs!

The one memory that will stay with me, long after the logs from our five fallen trees have been used to heat our home, is of a funeral. On Tuesday evening at 8pm I could hear the local solitary church bell tolling, this meant that the coffin with the deceased was on its way to be left in the church for a funeral the following day. This “removal” followed the open coffin with the dead person having been laid out, probably in the undertakers premises, during the day. We have very few street lamps at the best of time, and on Tuesday there were none, so I was able to see the procession of cars from about a mile away. Led by the hearse, I counted more than 50 sets of headlights making stately, respectful progress from Skibbereen towards our parish church. The fact that all those people were willing and able to make the journey with the deceased, a 94 year old lady, says a lot. The majority of those, and scores more, would be at the funeral mass and burial the following day.

The Irish way of death is something that I am learning about gradually, I know it is legendary, or a perhaps a stereotype, but there is a lot to be said for the way that death is handled here.

The next storm, Brian, is arriving as I write and will be at its worst in 8 hours. Ophelia was American in origin and presumably named after the character in Hamlet who went mad after the death of her father and, possibly, Hamlet’s treatment of her. Brian is Irish named, after Brian Boru, and, unlike Ophelia which moved mostly south to north, is going to head east across the UK, I trust that you will stay safe.

PS Did I miss Dental Showcase? Yes and No. Yes, after 25 (or more) unbroken years I will miss being able to take the pulse of UK Dentistry. No, I not want to have missed the past few days here.

 

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