Don’t Mention The Weather

We were on a college summer camp on Rottnest Island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, well only 18 kilometres from Fremantle, Western Australia, but one of the girls had to be airlifted off by helicopter as she had heatstroke. Happy days – when we emigrated to Australia in 1964 nobody worried about skin cancer or staying hydrated. Fortunately my parents were aware the sun was hot. Dad was out in Egypt after WW2 before he was demobbed and told of ’idiots’ being stretchered out with third degree burns after sun bathing. Fortunately my parents avoided the beach after being taken to Scarborough Beach by our sponsors on our first day in Australia. Huge waves and hot sand did not appeal and we went to pleasant shady spots by the River Swan.

My novel Quarter Acre Block was inspired by our first year in Australia.

Unfortunately school outings were gloriously free of sun hats and sun lotion and I recall an early outing when we spent the whole day on the beach and next day my nose peeled and bled! Outings with youth groups on hot days were often followed by me feeling sick the next day; setting off without any money and probably a picnic with a plastic bottle of cordial, I obviously didn’t drink enough. At school we did have plenty of water fountains, I didn’t spend my whole time dehydrated, but my sister recalls that if you were thirsty when you were out you stayed thirsty. I’m sure other people were buying bottles of coke and cool drinks of lurid colour, but we were not.

Sun and shade in Western Australia.

Our current heatwave has brought endless dire warnings of the dangers of going out – or staying inside homes not designed to cope with hot weather. Modern parents never let their children out without a bottle of water, but they should not panic – if Prince George could sit in the heat of Wimbledon dressed in a jacket and tie there is no need to pamper children.


How is the weather where you are?

Beach Hut Drama

On Valentine’s night February 2014 Britain had a huge storm, not dramatic compared with world disasters, but several people were killed and the walls of our brick house shook. In the morning the storm was still raging and tales emerged of dramas; the public were warned to stay away from coastal areas, so I looked up the time of high tide, 9am and told Cyberspouse we must walk to the cliff top. We could lean straight into the howling wind coming off the sea, safe from being blown off the cliff, but as we peered over the edge we had a shock.


Beach huts were reduced to matchsticks and heavy gas bottles blown along the promenade. Naturally I insisted to Cyberspouse that we go down, along with other sightseers. Beach hut owners were shocked to see their huts no longer existed and searched the wreckage for any belongings they could salvage. Of course losing your home is far worse than a little wooden box and easy to say as our hut, further along and on an upper level was fine! The owners who had lost beach huts certainly did not look happy. But I had an idea for a story, what would happen to anyone down on the promenade that night? my idea even became the start of my novel ’At The Seaside Nobody Hears You Scream.’ Read more about the novel on my About page.

Friday Flash Fiction 111 – Plunging

Is he going in, surely not…

Yes he is, fully clothed.

Should I do something?

I can’t stop him, I can only watch helplessly from the cliff top.

There’s no one else around in this awful weather and the rain beating against my face makes it impossible to see him properly now.

Impossible to see if the man now being knocked over by the diagonal waves is trying to retreat back to the shore or allowing himself to be taken.

I came out without my phone, to escape from technology, to drown my worries in the storm. Has the man out there chosen a more drastic way to drown his thoughts?

Twosday – a Tale of Two Tiles

Nothing much happens on Tuesdays, except perhaps a special date. Today is 22-2-22, but if I don’t hurry up and post this it will be Wednesday, except in the Americas where it will still be Tuesday, but written 2-22-22.

 The previous few days were more eventful as we had three storms in a row. Since the Met Office started naming storms we seem to have them more often, the aim being to make us take them seriously. On Thursday we were still thinking ‘not a nuther storm coming, up to E already, Eunice…’

But soon we were receiving RED warnings! Yes, just when you thought it was safe to go out again after Covid / chemotherapy / knee operation / kidnap by aliens – delete as appropriate, we were being instructed to stay home again.

Yellow, amber and even the most severe red warnings are in place for vast swathes of the United Kingdom – from Inverness to the Isle of Wight – for Friday.’

Our local council announced that almost everything would be closed on Friday. Team H deferred their long weekend visit, just like lockdown again, then cancelled as we heard that Eunice was to be followed by Storm Franklin and perhaps Gladys…

Friday dawned fair…

Friends and families warned each other ( well me ) not to go out to see the sea. I thought I would pop out to the recycling bin, but the front door nearly blew off. The front and side of our house takes the brunt of the prevailing south westerly and a record wind speed of 122 miles per hour was recorded on the Isle of Wight, as the wind wended its way to our house.

Unless you live in solitary splendour in the countryside you are probably very close or joined to your neighbours.  It was our neighbour who alerted us to tiles fallen off our roof, just missing their car. Only two tiles lost and one loose, but up high…

A good while ago it was the neighbours the other side who had major building work done to their house with the scaffolding in our driveway. The builders inadvertently broke one of our tiles, but how lucky was that because they fixed it and had four tiles left over and left them with us. Even luckier, considering I always forget where I put everything, I remembered where the spare tiles were hidden in the potting shed.

My son planned to fix the roof before Eunice took unfair advantage of the weak spot. I didn’t think anyone should be doing anything with ladders. My daughter-in-law was dispatched to Wickes to buy a hook attachment for the ladder and some spongy glue stuff. I didn’t think anyone should be going out.

Luckily we have the ‘right sort of roof’ for the proposed action and with careful checking of wind speeds, yet another thing you can do on the internet and the use of two ladders, the roof was repaired later in the day. We did not have to join the queues of home owners waiting for builders and roofers.

We had of course got off lightly. People had four hundred year old oak trees falling on their house and homes were flooded. Sadly the red warnings were justified as several people were killed by toppling trees.

Silly Saturday – May Mayhem

Happy May Day
The day when anything can happen.

Or maybe you will just go shopping.

Or eat out…. which for most of us means eat outside…

Cross a few bridges and see where you end up…
At the end of the line?
Or down a deep hole?
May Day bank holiday is sure to bring sunny weather.
holiday resorts will be expecting large numbers of day trippers or maybe Large Daytrippers.
So however you get there take care on your journey.
This is Frightened Freddy – don’t be like Frightened Freddy – take care on the road.

Silly Saturday Short Story – Jolly Jumper

I was looking forward to a quiet Saturday when the doorbell rang. I only half opened the door, hoping to keep out the torrential rain and wind. On the doorstep stood a complete stranger, or at least it was hard to recognise who she might be with her head bowed and face concealed by the hood of her sodden coat. When she looked up, her expression was one of confusion.
‘Oh, er sorry, is your daughter in?’
I relaxed, pushing the door back another inch. ‘I think you must have the wrong house, I don’t have a daughter.’
‘Oh erm… is this The Lighthouse? Only I was a bit confused because it doesn’t look like the pictures and it isn’t very near the sea.’
Who was this stranger and what pictures?
‘It is only ten minutes walk from the cliff top’ I retorted.
And what business of hers what I called my house? It was a bit of a joke, my fantasy of living in a lighthouse on a rocky outcrop hadn’t quite materialised. The little featureless home in a row of similar houses could have been in any suburb anywhere, but I could walk to the sea; if my knee wasn’t playing up or the weather wasn’t too dreadful.
‘I don’t suppose mine is the only house called The Lighthouse, did you use SatNav?’
‘I came on the train.’
That explained her drowned rat appearance, a cliché, but she did actually look like a drowned rat; it was a good walk from the station. What was I supposed to do with her? She had an accent I couldn’t place.
‘I’m sorry I can’t help you, is it a friend or relative you’re looking for?’
‘I was sure this was the right place, Sandbourne, Wessex, I’m over in England for a writers’ convention in London next week.’
I felt a touch of sympathy for a fellow writer and a niggle of guilt that I had not invited her to put even a toe inside the door.
‘What a shame you have such awful weather for your day at the seaside, it might brighten up later. I hope you manage to find your friend.’
‘She’s a fellow blogger, I’ve never actually met her.’
A disquieting bell began to ring inside my head. I am a blogger, but who on earth would want to meet me in real life. Perhaps Sandbourne was full of bloggers who would welcome a visit, but I had no desire to meet fellow bloggers in real life. The whole point of blogging was surely to avoid people.
The woman blinked away large drops of water splashing down from my gutter. ‘She’s called Scribbletide, her blog’s called ‘To The Lighthouse’ … you know, after the Virginia Woolf novel.’
‘Yes, yes, I have read it, they never actually get to the lighthouse.’
Hmm, just like me, that’s why I called my blog that… I never get to the lighthouse. But how on earth had this bedraggled refugee from abroad found out where I lived and how long before she cottoned on that I no longer looked like that picture of me taken thirty years ago, nor do I live on Portland Bill. I could carry on feigning ignorance and hope she cleared off, but what if she told the rest of the blogging world the truth? No more Likes and ‘hugs’, no more followers. And I was intrigued, which of my thirteen followers was she?

17
‘You had better come in, as long as you promise not to write a blog about me.’
With her dripping coat hanging over the kitchen chair and a mug of tea in her hands she looked a bit more presentable, but with no resemblance to any blogger I could think of.
‘So are you Scribbletide?’ she stared at me suspiciously.
‘Well it’s a long story… why don’t you tell me what your blog is called.’
‘Leaping into the Unknown, it’s my day today, my sixth birthday.’
It took me a few moments to cotton on. ‘Leap Year, 29th February today, your birthday, not a very exciting way to spend it. I don’t Do birthdays, but if you only have one every four years I guess it should be special. Do I follow your blog?’
‘Yes, all the time, I’m Jolly Jumper, you love my daredevil adventures.’
Now I knew why she did not look familiar, her blog persona was a cartoon superwoman who wore a colourful Scandiknit jumper. Her real self looked like she would get vertigo climbing a step ladder.

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I took her to the cliff top café for tea and a big slice of cake. She wouldn’t go near the edge of the cliff as she was scared of heights, but with the dreadful weather, we were happy to sit inside and chat. After seeing her off on the train back to London I went home to start my new blog post.
P1070246What a thrill today to meet a fellow blogger from over the ocean. My special visitor, Jolly Jumper, was dropped off by the Sandbourne Lifeboat and scrambled up the craggy rocks to knock on the door of my lighthouse. It was so windy I could hardly open the heavy wooden door…

Friday Flash Fiction – Up In the Air

When Karina left her home in Bolivia to spend the last few weeks of the year with distant relatives in England, she was looking forward to curling up with a book by a roaring fire, Christmas shopping in large brightly lit stores and snow. She did not expect it to involve rubber suits and colourful parachutes.

The drive in the dark from Heathrow Airport had been endless; on the map of little England her cousins’ town had looked close to London.

When she was woken up the next morning it was still dark.

‘Sorry to wake you early Katrina,’ said Aunty ‘it’s an ordinary working day for us, but you relax and enjoy the start of your holiday. You won’t be on your own, we have students staying with us and I have four more coming in for a lesson this morning.’

There were young people coming and going and she wasn’t sure which were her cousins. One expectation came true, it was cold, the house was freezing. She was sent out to the shops with two of the students, as Aunty had to wait in for ‘The Gasman’ because ‘Centralheatingsontheblink.’

Outside, the prevailing colour was grey; the sky, the buildings, people’s clothes. But the students were friendly, assuming her to be one of them, completing a tally of one from each continent.

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The next morning was Saturday and the house had taken on a more relaxed atmosphere and brighter aspect; looking out of the front window Katrina realised the sky was a washed out blue instead of lowering grey.

‘Isn’t it a wonderful day,’ said Uncle ‘we have a treat for you, the boys are getting the gear ready, there’s a good breeze, you can help your aunt pack a picnic.’

Katrina wondered nervously if a treat for a girl from a land locked country would be a trip on a boat and if so, what sort of water was involved? In a house full of people she had soon realised that each assumed someone else had told her what was going on.

Outside the front of the house several young men were hoisting huge rucksacks onto their backs; a couple of girls beckoned her to follow. The sun was not as bright as back home, but it was so low in the sky it blinded her. They set off down the road and it came completely as a surprise to Katrina when they arrived at a cliff top and the ocean opened out in front of her. The sky above the water was blue, but a cold wind caused her to shrink inside the borrowed coat.

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Down a winding path they came to a beach and were not alone; people were strolling as if it was summer, young children played on the beach dressed in boots and bulky clothes and dogs of all shapes and sizes ran circles around everyone. Stranger things were to follow. She trailed after the others to a quiet stretch; her relatives looked as if they were setting up camp. Bags were ripped open; the young blokes dragged black rubber suits on, hauled out boldly coloured kites with tangles of line, then strapped themselves into harnesses. Karina thrilled to see the curling waves, but hoped she would not be expected to go near the sea. Even as she wondered what would happen next, the kites had floated into the air and turned into parachutes dangling the men like puppets; they jumped onto small boards skimming the waves. She watched the wind take them out to sea and her stomach flipped as a black and red curved canopy soared up, taking the young man high up into the air…

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