Not Exactly A Storm In A Teacup!

26 Feb

It’s fairly common knowledge that the past three winters have been pretty nasty across France, but the 2011 summer wasn’t much to write home about, either, in terms of decent periods of sunshine! Certainly, family and I were so very relieved not to be in the tent towards the end of August. Severe, convective storms were forecast to affect Brittany around the 25th and 26th August.

Thursday 25th August was hot, bright and humid to start, but the storms started rolling over us during the late afternoon, and they continued through the night, virtually without a break. However, we woke up to absolutely  torrential rain on the Friday morning, and, as we set off in the car to go shopping, we noticed a young birch tree had come down across the width of the road on the bend that curves around Nikki’s property. So, with my bright blue, plastic poncho flapping like wings in the rising winds, I took hold of the tree by its torn roots and slowly pulled it around to lie, lengthways, in the ditch. Tom sat helpless in the car, he couldn’t have helped, a deep chest infection had made it virtually impossible for him to even walk further than 3-4 metres from the house to the car.

Tree safely out of the road, where it might not have caused major issues for cars and bigger vehicles, but it could well have caused a fatal accident for a motor-cyclist, I climbed back into the car and we continued to Intermarché. What a mess I felt! Wet leaves and twigs covered me from the top of my head, down my poncho, to my saturated hiking-shoes! As I squelched into Intermarché with Tom, he looked at me and burst out laughing. “Sorry, love”, he said, “but you look like Worzel Gummidge!”

I sneaked a look at myself as we passed a mirrored pillar, Tom wasn’t wrong!

The rain didn’t stop, the winds alternated between gusty and breezy, and it was a thoroughly miserable day with a series of thunderstorms making their way towards the house from across the plains. It must have been just  after 4.30pm, and it suddenly turned very dark in the house. I glanced through the office window and noticed a huge, black cloud that seemed to hover over the house, the surrounding garden and meadows, it was like a massive umbrella. Then, I saw Jerry the pony on the furthest side of his paddock, well away from the house, his mane, tail and rug flapping as he galloped, heading away from the direction of the wind. Looking to my right, I saw what looked like a thick fog moving across the meadow towards the house. I knew what it was, having seen several tornadoes and waterspouts in my lifetime.

As I quickly turned to leave the office, I met our son as he rushed in, grabbed hold of me, and almost carried me through the house to the lounge! The four of us, plus the dogs, plus two of the cats (the other two were in the barn) crushed ourselves into the tiny space that was the downstairs toilet off a small passage-way between the lounge and kitchen. There was no window in that small area. As we squeezed into the toilet room, there was a huge clap of thunder, a terrible roaring noise, and then it sounded as though the tiles on the roof were dancing to Hornpipes!

I don’t suppose it lasted much longer than thirty seconds to a minute, but it felt like a much longer period of time, and it was terrifying! I felt so sorry for the animals, they were almost rigid with fear. Wonderful dogs and cats, not one of them scratched, bit, or tried to bolt, they remained exactly where we had put them in that tiny space, crushed between four human-beings.

Apparently, when Nikki contacted her property insurance people, the agent asked her if the damage had occurred on the 26th August; she told him that was the right date and he wasn’t surprised. So, I don’t think ‘our’ mini-tornado was an isolated incident that day!


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4 responses to “Not Exactly A Storm In A Teacup!

  1. fly in the web

    February 26, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Then that must have been about the time we had a waterspout coming down the river.
    We had been out to get the ducks and geese in when the sky turned black and there was a noise like roadworking machinery……the stones from the river bed being pulled into the spout.
    I went to the house, Mr. Fly tethered himself to the washing pole (Odysseus fashion!) as the spout approached down the river bed, high up over the trees.
    We were lucky…it went the other side of the islands from the house and churned on downstream.
    Not an experience i would like to repeat.

    • hobosinfrance

      February 26, 2012 at 5:55 pm

      I am so relieved that somebody else had that experience, too! Although, it’s not something I would wish on anybody! When I have related that day’s events to folks, face-to-face, I have seen disbelief flicker across some faces! I’m very pleased to know you and Mr Fly came through unscathed, as we did too. I recall, a few days later, reading a tragic report about somebody on a camping-site (a woman, I think) being killed by falling debris caused by a damaging mini-tornado that same day. But, that wasn’t in Brittany, I think it was in the Vendée. Warmest regards, Chrissie

  2. Danlrene ©2011

    February 29, 2012 at 6:59 am

    loved reading this as it was written in such a suspenseful way. thanks

    • hobosinfrance

      March 1, 2012 at 11:27 am

      Hello Danlrene, thank you for your kindness. To be totally honest, I tried to write it the way it has been, and the suspense has certainly been there all the way through – and remains ongoing, merely dormant! Our lives now just seem to be in suspended animation as we wait for a date for the Cour de Cassation hearing. But, the 2012 round of bureaucratic tax docs will be appearing during the coming two months, so it’s highly likely that we will be back on that roller-coaster very soon! Kindest regards, Chrissie


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