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.