Famous Last Words..

I know exactly where I went wrong.

It was in declaring, three days before Christmas, that we had started to ‘wind down’. Those among you who have learned the lessons of life rather more effectively than moi might have considered that foolhardy in the extreme. And you’d be right. The very next day we woke to the sound of wind howling down the valley and looked out on a storm ravaged scene. I had washing to do and mince pies to make. The lights flickered menacingly. My chances of being left with a tub full of soggy smalls and a heap of sunken pies were really rather high.

By noon time was running out and I decided to take the risk. It didn’t get me very far. But not through loss of power. No, something had gone awry with the stock control. We’d run out of flour. The only thing for it was to sweet-talk Mike into braving the elements and go out for more. Except, as I discovered almost as soon as he’d left, it wasn’t just the flour. You know how it is. We plan for something, even buy all the things we think we’ll need. And then there’s some sort of hiatus and the mince pies can wait. So we’d eaten the eggs for lunch one day. And the butter I thought I had in the fridge had gone instead into the making of bread.

No worries, I could call Mike and get them added to his list. Thinking how fortunate it was that I’d found out about the shortfall now. And not after he’d got back. The phone rings and rings before diverting to a nice lady who tells me that the ‘Person I am calling has not answered.’ Mike has a new phone. It was supposed to be his Christmas present but as it also covered his birthday last month he’d decided to commission it early. The trouble is, we’re still running in. He’s spent hours downloading apps, synchronising files and doing all the other things that boys with new toys will do. Everything it seems except learning how to use it as a phone. All I can do is message the new list of required ingredients and hope he picks it up.

It’s then that I spot the woodpecker. The gale force wind has knocked out the calibration of the squirrel twirler leaving the poor bird clinging on to the nut holder for dear life as it spins around at an ever increasing rate. He manages to leap off and retreats to the relative safety of the bird table where he can glare at the offending feeder from the far side of the pole.


Woodpecker 003a Wm


Woodrow and bird table pole, on a less tempestuous day


The twirler stops spinning and Woodrow returns, only to be flung off again. But can I find the ‘off’ button in the torrential rain? As I bend down to get a closer look two things happen simultaneously. A dollop of dirty water straight in the eye and a thundering, monumental ‘CRACK’..

I may not have seen the tree fall but certainly felt it, only a matter of feet from where I am standing. Enough to provoke an instinctive reaction to flatten myself up against the house wall. And where the wind now had me pinned. Inside, the phone has started to ring. I get to it just before the answer phone cuts in. Rainwater drips on to the floor. There is soft peeping from a supermarket scanning till and then Mike’s voice. Standing in an aisle at Tesco, no doubt much to the irritation of the Christmas hordes, he has finally mastered the art of outbound calls. Picking up messages remains a mystery still.


River 008 Wm


The river at the bottom of the garden..



..compared to its previous high point, two months ago.

We escaped Monday’s storm relatively unscathed and I feel for those flooded or without power over Christmas. I just hope, for all of us in the UK, tomorrow’s repeat performance isn’t as bad as feared.


On Christmas Eve Mike turned on the kitchen TV. A blizzard crossed the screen and it wasn’t supposed to be a weather report. The TV at the other end of the house works fine so if not the aerial what could the problem be? The cable from the signal splitter runs through the roofspace above my desk. I can hear them as I write. Scratching. Scratching. Scratching and nibbling. Those wretched, wretched mice.


Christmas Bear 002 Wm[1]


Perhaps that is it now? Time to wind down?



It’s a loosely formed plan you understand. Taking nothing as read.

For that would be foolhardy indeed.


2018-02-27T10:22:49+00:00December 26th, 2013|Tags: , , , , |


  1. Anny December 26, 2013 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    This Christmas, it seems that as long as you’re warm and dry with hot food on the table, that’s good going. Best wishes to you for the season – hope the Fates let you relax and be peaceful. x

    • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 1:38 pm - Reply

      Thanks Anny. You too.
      Lots of branches down here today, but no trees so far!

  2. haggiz December 26, 2013 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    Hope the rest of the week is a little less fraught. My middle son works at a call centre for a power company and has had to work christmas day and boxing day because of the amount of people needing to be dealt with who have no power. Such a shame and I don’t think it’s over yet. On the plus side our scaffolding was finally taken away on Christmas Eve! Julie x

    • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 1:43 pm - Reply

      I’m so glad you got your roof fixed Julie, I do wish these violent storms would come to an end. The power of wind and water is quite frightening.

  3. Crafty Gardener December 26, 2013 at 7:22 pm - Reply

    Did you ever get the mince pies baked?
    Stormy weather here and where you are. It was bitterly cold on Christmas Day, -28 Celsius, and many still without power from the recent ice storm. Lucky for us the power was on, the turkey was cooked, and time was spent happily with family. Today is a lazy day.
    No matter the challenges, we seem to overcome them and enjoy the day.

    • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 1:48 pm - Reply

      There were people in the UK cooking Christmas dinner over barbecue coals! The weather is getting to be quite a problem, especially in areas where we are not used to such extremes. -28 is cold!

  4. Sue@GLAllotments December 26, 2013 at 8:07 pm - Reply

    So you got there in the end – that’s all that counts and you also got something to blog about!

    • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 1:49 pm - Reply

      I think the storm is worse up your way today, hope all’s well Sue. Take care.

      • Sue@GLAllotments December 27, 2013 at 2:27 pm - Reply

        It’s very windy but I think it was due to be worse in the west.

        • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 9:31 pm - Reply

          More to come looking at the forecast this evening. Roll on Spring.

  5. CJ December 26, 2013 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    Are those Bakewell mince pies? They look delicious. Your river is looking lovely, but quite ferocious now. I guess mice might be the price you pay for living somewhere so beautiful. You’re close to nature! It sounds like it was a little hectic with you for a while, but I’m glad you got to put your feet up and have a good day in the end. And I’m hoping the next few days are lovely for you.

    • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 1:54 pm - Reply

      Yes, similar ingredients. They are Frangipani mince pies, recipe from the current Waitrose Kitchen magazine. Thanks CJ, you too.

  6. Cumbrian December 26, 2013 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    Wretched mice…………..you really need a cat.

    • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 1:56 pm - Reply

      I need an army of cats!

  7. CherryPie December 26, 2013 at 11:09 pm - Reply

    You have had a Christmas adventure. Luckily you managed to find some time to chill out despite it all. The high winds have just arrived here…

    • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 2:00 pm - Reply

      Lots more branches down again here last night. I was about to say the worst seems to have passed but the sky is getting darker again.. hope all is well with you Cherie.

  8. Suzanne Dutchess County, NY, USA December 26, 2013 at 11:41 pm - Reply

    I hope you got your baking done. I did some but not my usual. Did you put up a Christmas tree?
    Mice are the worst. I’ve had them in the past ( knock on wood) but have been lucky since with these electronic devices that emit sounds the mice can hear and don’t like.
    This is lucky, because if my jack Russell’s even think there’s a mouse in the house, all lower kitchen cabinets must be emptied, doors left open and inspected by them for at least a week! Otherwise they scratch at the woodwork.
    Once they are satisfied the coast is clear I can put my kitchen to rights. They have caught a few and that is a disgusting spectacle.
    A cat would work, but the birds would get mad.

    • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 2:05 pm - Reply

      We bought a rooted tree, which I’m hoping I can keep alive in a pot for a few years at least. The electronic device seems to have kept the mice out of the house so far (touch wood), other than in the roofspace. We ought to find out how they get in there and plug the gaps.

  9. colleen December 26, 2013 at 11:53 pm - Reply

    All’s well etc…and a couple of things for the Risk Record and Lessons Learned Log, no? OK, maybe not.

    I went to the corner shop this morning and asked the proprietor whether he ever has any time off. Yes, he says, Christmas Day. The beigels seemed fresh enough though.

    • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 2:08 pm - Reply

      Another good reason for living in London. Unless you’re a corner shop proprietor.

  10. nataliescarberry December 27, 2013 at 2:55 am - Reply

    Oh, my, bless your hearts. What an ordeal! I do hope you can get some rest in the days to come. Blessings, Natalie 🙂

    • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 2:10 pm - Reply

      Other than picking up yet more storm debris, yes I hope so! Thanks Natalie. I hope you’re having a lovely Christmas.

  11. Vera December 27, 2013 at 6:04 am - Reply

    Hope you enjoy your wind down time. I am going to have a wind down time as well. Thought I would start today. But the day has not taken hold yet, and I suspect that once it gets going my longed for wind down time will not happen. Ah well, might grab an hour off this afternoon, and I hope that you are able to do the same, but for perhaps longer than an hour!

    • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 2:13 pm - Reply

      You deserve it more than me, you work so hard! But animals, like weather, do not respect the need for wind down days!

  12. Helen December 27, 2013 at 7:43 am - Reply

    It’s funny how things that seem so important start to pail into insignificance when we have to deal with horrendous weather and other problems. Glad you are all ok

    • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 2:15 pm - Reply

      Gardening surrounded by aged trees is quite a challenge. I’m always wondering how long my new introductions will last before something falls on them.

  13. Jo December 27, 2013 at 10:45 am - Reply

    I’ve learnt never to think I’m nearly done in the days leading up to Christmas, there’s usually something I’ve forgotten. It’s very windy here today, definitely a day for hunkering down.

    • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 2:17 pm - Reply

      Take care Jo, worse for you than us today I think. Keep safe.

  14. SeagullSuzie December 27, 2013 at 11:30 am - Reply

    So happy to hear you survived that terrible storm-certainly one of the worst we’ve had here in Brixham in a long time. Todays storm is mild in comparison and I slept through it last night-which really shows it was nothing. Normally I lie awake listening to every noise, my neighbour does the same.
    Love the way you explained hubbys phone-everything uploaded and sorted except making calls…!
    I hope you are having a more relaxed time now.

    • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 2:21 pm - Reply

      You’re right, this one isn’t nearly so bad. For us in Devon anyway. We were walking back from a neighbour’s last night as it started and I thought at that point it would be much worse.

  15. Joanne December 27, 2013 at 11:55 am - Reply

    Glad you survived everything. A lesson learned, never think you are sorted for Christmas, or perhaps that’s just me.

    • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 2:24 pm - Reply

      It’s not just you! As I get older though it seems to matter less. Especially when there are plenty worse things in life to contend with.

  16. Bilbowaggins December 27, 2013 at 4:23 pm - Reply

    Oh my goodness, what an eventful few days. Thank Crunchy you were no closer to the tree which fell (but think of all the logs which will be seasoned for burning next winter :} ) Your river looks beautiful but wild.

    I sympathise with the sound of small rodent feet running above the ceiling – I sometimes hear the same in the roof-space above my study. I know I ought to go up there with poisoned bait … perhaps when the power fails in that room I’ll wish I had actually done so.

    • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 9:34 pm - Reply

      Power should be OK here, as we are slowly re-wiring it’s armoured cable in all the roof areas. Famous last words??

  17. countrysidetales December 27, 2013 at 4:45 pm - Reply

    Those pies look delich. Frangipane?

    I feared power loss here on Xmas eve too when a tree came half-way down across the lane. It’s still there, resting precariously on the phone lines, which are the only things preventing it from falling and blocking the lane entirely….

    Glad you were OK. The tree coming down sounds just that little bit too close for comfort.

    • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 9:42 pm - Reply

      There are phone and electric cables running right through the wood, it’s what I fear here. Hope your tree gets safely removed.
      The frangipane recipe is lovely, if a bit sweet. I wouldn’t want more than one at a time!

  18. Anna December 27, 2013 at 5:14 pm - Reply

    Sounds as if you had a narrow squeak with the tree falling in such close proximity Jessica. I heard a similar crack at the start of January 2012 when a mature willow just outside our back door was damaged in a storm. Rather scary. Pleased that you are able to tell the tale and have a mound of yummy mince pies to tackle 🙂

    • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 9:45 pm - Reply

      It makes me think even more that we need to do a lot of work on the trees. Some of them are in a really bad state.

  19. snowbird December 27, 2013 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    Glad you finally got the mince pies sorted! They do look rather delicious. Wow, that river is rising….I would love to have one in my garden. The tree falling sounds really scary, I’m glad it was away from the house. Mike has my sympathy, I too have a new phone and I’m permanently irritated trying to do anything on it.
    You do look cosy there with your kindle, here’s to a calmer few days! With no mice issues.xxx

    • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 9:48 pm - Reply

      Phones have got too complicated for their own good!
      The river was actually higher than in the photo. It dropped about three inches in the short time we were down there.

  20. Cathy December 27, 2013 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    Oh Jessica, never a dull moment! Glad that you are cosy and safe after the mince pie scare and the falling tree – just need to sort those mice out… 😉

    • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 9:50 pm - Reply

      Those bloomin’ mice. They are subject to a new year’s resolution all of their own.

  21. Antoinette December 27, 2013 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    Glad you’re ok.Wild and windy again here today but not as bad as a few days ago. So far so good with our trees.
    The deer wandered through on Christmas day morning which was lovely..

    • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      Oh, wonderful to see the deer. As long as they didn’t stop for Christmas lunch..

  22. Sol December 27, 2013 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    gosh where you live is beautiful. makes me think of robin hood

    • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 9:56 pm - Reply

      Not quite a forest, but there are certainly plenty of trees. I hope you get your own roof problems sorted out.

  23. Abby December 27, 2013 at 9:33 pm - Reply

    Is Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’ the best e-book to be reading in a blustery storm?! Yummy looking mince pies. Hope you’re ok now.

    • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 10:00 pm - Reply

      Possibly not! I was going to read his latest, but that’s apparently The Shining’s sequel, so I bought The Shining first. It’ll be OK as long as it doesn’t snow… 🙂

  24. Virginia December 27, 2013 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    Goodness! That falling tree sounds like too close a call! I sympathise with the new phone problems, getting to know a new one is the reason my husband won’t upgrade! We get birds in our roof and they drive me batty. I think a cat is needed – it’d have plenty to do by the sounds of it!
    I do hope your weather improves soon.

    • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 10:54 pm - Reply

      Hi Virginia. The weather has been truly awful here.. I wish it were summer!! It could be a bird in the attic, and sometimes it sounds like something heavier altogether. Maybe a squirrel. Need to get brave, go up there and do a stake out.

  25. knitsofacto December 27, 2013 at 11:44 pm - Reply

    Those pesky mice get almost everywhere … here’s hoping they don’t make it as far as the mince pies!

    Wishing you and yours much peace and joy in the year ahead Jessica x

    • Jessica December 27, 2013 at 11:59 pm - Reply

      The mince pies are in airtight and mouse proof boxes, those that are left anyway!
      Thanks Annie, and you too.

  26. Linda December 28, 2013 at 2:39 pm - Reply

    You always make me laugh, Jessica…
    Such a detailed account….and the pictures are great!
    Hope you are safe from the flooding….what a week of crazy weather this has been…
    Still people in Toronto without power……7 days!!!!!! I would be insane…..
    Hope to see more photos of your lovely quaint setting….♥️

    • Jessica December 28, 2013 at 3:01 pm - Reply

      It sure has been crazy! 7 days without power in Toronto is insane, you guys are usually so organised and prepared for bad weather.
      There should be more photos tomorrow, I hope.

  27. Jessica December 28, 2013 at 2:55 pm - Reply


    Sounds like you had it worse than us in the S.E. I’ve had my Christmas problems too. It’s all part of the festivities isn’t it. ho ho ho. Happy New Year to you Jessica.

    • Jessica December 28, 2013 at 3:06 pm - Reply

      I think we both got clobbered by Monday’s storm. I hope you are OK..
      Thanks Oma, and a Very Happy New Year to you too!

  28. Rosie December 28, 2013 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    Oh no! Twirling woodpeckers, falling trees and niblling mice! Hope you finally got those mince pies made. You look very relaxed after your fraught run up to the big day! Happy New Year:)

    • Jessica December 28, 2013 at 9:37 pm - Reply

      Breaking news tonight is that the mice may be off the hook.. It’s now looking like a loose connection! A very Happy New Year to you too Rosie.

  29. Natalie December 29, 2013 at 12:46 am - Reply

    Oh my, that was an awful lot of, er, excitement all at once! What will you do for an encore on New Year’s eve? Speaking of which, I hope 2014 is a great year for you!

    • Jessica December 29, 2013 at 10:05 am - Reply

      Sit under the kitchen table and hope for the best I think!
      You too Natalie.

  30. islandthreads December 29, 2013 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    Jessica I’m glad you are all well and that the falling tree didn’t do too much harm, how close is that river? there is one beside my house but low and far enough away to not be a problem, from the kitchen window I can see the rise and fall out towards the moor, take care, Frances

    • Jessica December 29, 2013 at 5:00 pm - Reply

      It’s not very far, but at a much lower level hence not seeing the tree fall. But they make a lot of noise when they go and it takes a second or two to establish just where the noise is coming from! The view from your kitchen sounds lovely.

  31. Sarah December 29, 2013 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    Oh dear you did had lots of adventures before Christmas! I’m glad you stayed safe despite the river being high and the tree falling down. You must have been on the mice’s Christmas list!
    Sarah x

    • Jessica December 29, 2013 at 9:22 pm - Reply

      It’s proving to be an ‘exciting’ holiday period for a lot of people. I’m glad you escaped the worst of the storms too, it sounded bad for Weymouth.

  32. Amy at love made my home December 29, 2013 at 6:00 pm - Reply

    I hope that you are all safe and sound now and that the water has receeded to a sensible level – look as though the gabion was holding up well and stopping any more erosion. Hope that Christmas was a good one! xx

    • Jessica December 29, 2013 at 9:36 pm - Reply

      The gabion seems to be working really well so far. It’ll be when the water level drops and we can see what’s happening below that will be telling. But at least the water is churning against stone now, not vulnerable crumbling soil.

  33. woolythymes December 30, 2013 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    I think this all constitutes memory making….if everything went ultra smoothly, you would soon forgot!!! (although I’m very glad this had a happy ending!)

    (My memory making….making the 7 grands a beeswax nativity set from chocolate molds that they could actually play with and move around–saving their mom’s ‘good’ set; wax poured—6 anxious little faces watching the wax set (sort of like watching a pot boil)—when along comes #7—he throws his fleece jacket on top of the whole thing—-we spent the next couple hours trying to get wax off the jacket (finally gave up—fleece really soaks up wax FAST!), and sort of lamenting the fact that the angels lost heir wings, the camel had no head, we were down to two magi, and the little shepherd boy was lame. They still loved it.)

    • Jessica December 30, 2013 at 8:45 pm - Reply

      I think you are absolutely right. And I bet you all loved that nativity set all the more for its unique customisations!

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