Saturday, 7 January 2017

Socks Still On, But Only Just

It's the middle of the night and outside it sounds like the world is coming to an end. We don't get this kind of weather all that often, but usually at least once during a Rhodean winter it blows like the roof is about to fly away. I feel somewhat like Dorothy must have felt when she was swept away by the tornado, along with her trusty dog Toto of course.

It's a little past 12.30am and the rain is beating against the windows and it sounds like every ghoul is on the prowl. You feel so helpless when it's after midnight and there's no moon, at least, if there were it wouldn't do any good because the clouds are thick and dark and dropping their load by the ton at a forty five degree angle. You can only speculate about what you're going to find when it gets light in the morning. Hopefully all the patio furniture is secure on the sheltered terrace under the portico outside. We've pulled the umbrellas out of their bases, rolled them up and stashed them under cover. No doubt there will be a lot of leaves who've given up trying to hang on to the trees around us and many of which will be swirling in menacing circles around the courtyard as I type.

It's the noise that unsettles you. It's so dark when you attempt to peer out of the window that you know there's nothing you can do except hope that the electricity holds out until dawn. Anything left undone or not battened down outside before it got dark and the storm got under way, well, it's too late now. What's to be outside will be. We'll pick up the pieces tomorrow. Well, later today.

Back at around 1.00pm yesterday afternoon we went for a walk down to the beach. It's a must when the sea's up like it is at the moment. You know, the distance from our front door to the water's edge is around a kilometre and a half, say a 20 minute walk. We can do that walk without having to traipse along a tarmac road, it's dirt track from the front gate to the beach, with just one spot where momentarily we cross a road and continue on the track. The sky was blue with rolling clouds and the temperature very mild. Not at all like it's forecast to be by tonight (Saturday) and into Sunday. Sakis, our trusted TV meteorologist, who posts his video forecasts for his devotees on his Facebook page on the days when he's not doing it on the telly, has forecast that we shall probably be experiencing the coldest daytime temperatures since years before we moved out here, back in August 2005. This now is our twelfth winter on Rhodes. It's predicted to be single figures in ºC all day on Sunday, something extremely rare for this part of the Aegean.

Much of Greece is already under thick snow. It's a huge contrast to last winter, which was abnormally mild and nowhere near as wet as it ought to be. Just as well for the thousands of poor wretched refugees who spent much of it walking from Greece to Germany, trying to break through hastily erected fences along some of the borders that they encountered. Had they been making that trek this week, thousands more would be dying of exposure without a doubt.

Yet yesterday at the beach, it was bracing, brisk, invigorating, exhilarating. The sea roared in a way that always puts us in mind of past weekends spent with friends in Cornwall. Here, take a look at the photos I took...

When I stand on our drive and look down the valley to the sea, most of the time the only sounds I can hear (apart from the neighbour's dogs now and again from further up the hill) are birds of prey, a few song birds, crows, sheep and goats. I hear the breeze rustling the huge leathery leaves on our rubber tree in the garden. I don't usually hear the sound of the sea. When the winds are strong and southerly though, as they are at the moment, it's quite astounding how the sea's roar travels up the valley and fills your ears, blocking out of your consciousness all other sounds. The waters crashing on the shore a kilometre and a half below can be heard up here like a persistent roar and it's impressive, humbling, awesome.

My father always loved the sound of water in any of its forms, whether that be trickling in a brook, tumbling over a waterfall or crashing in great waves on to the shore line. I know I'm my father's son.

As I've been typing and the time has been ticking onward, the wind has abated. Sakis said it would swing around by dawn to a more northerly direction. When it's in the north we're laughing, since this house is tucked snuggly into the hillside. The rise behind us is easily as high as the roof. When the winds are in the north we can walk a few metres around the bend in the lane outside and risk being blown off of our feet, whereas right here in the garden you could set up a table and umbrella and take your lunch under a warming winter sun.

Maybe not this weekend though, I don't have any thermal underwear any more, not since moving out here. Plus, the wind's still mainly southwesterly and threatening to, were I to step outside, blow my socks off.


  1. Great photos of as piece of coastline I know quite well, but have never seen behaving that way!
    I,too,love the roar of waves crashing on a shore. As you say, exhilarating, energising but also very humbling.
    Meanwhile, in Norfolk UK, we have seal pups strewn on the beaches. Up to 1000 this winter at one particular spot.

  2. Is it too late to add this link?

    1. People will have to copy and paste the link into their URL field. For some reason links don't go live in comments on the blog.