Monday, 12 September 2011
My summer residence is supported on seven spruce trees. In the time I've been here - since early May - the BBC have twice forecast hurricane force winds. The first time, I abandoned ship - but they exaggerated, it was only storm force. This time, I haven't abandoned, and it's now too late to do so. The wind on the hilltop is too high to safely evacuate the cats. I suspect, and hope, that the BBC are exaggerating again, but earlier this morning I described the wind as the second strongest I'd ever experienced. That's no longer true.
It literally is not possible for a grown man to stand upright in the gusts on our hilltop now. I know that, because I've just been there. So I'm going to have to stay put. On the plus side, my wood shows no evidence at all of windfall trees. So far as I can see, no tree of the present generation has ever blown down. And although I have thinned a little, I've been careful to preserve the green edge of the wood - I really think it's wind-firm.
However, the seven trees that support the summer palace are - like all the other trees in the wood - swaying with alarming amplitude, but, of course, with different frequencies. That gives the platform an uncomfortably sharp, unpredictable motion, like a hovercraft in a short chop. I think it's safe enough. The ropes aren't going to break. As I said I don't think the trees will fall; in fact the trees supporting the platform are less likely to go than others, since they are coupled together and thus none of them can sway to the amplitude they would alone.
I've taken down one of the side-walls the summer palace had, to allow the wind to blow through unobstructed. Having less of a sail, I hope, will reduce the risk of damage. I'm still a little concerned about the roof going.
I've pitched my tent a little bit away in the wood so that, if the summer palace becomes uninhabitable, I have somewhere to retreat to... but actually I think the worst I'm risking is seasickness. The worst of the wind is expected to be through by nightfall. I think I'm all right. The cats clearly don't like the conditions and Ivan in particular is clingy, but I think they're OK.
The fool on the hill by Simon Brooke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License