The weather has been, as we say up here, a bit coarse over the past couple of days. On Wednesday night and during the day on Thursday the wind was practising hard, with plenty of hail slamming against the windows, but last night it really got into its stride.
We are used to weather, which is why the houses are low and stone built, and garden furniture is kept in the garage all year round. Outside the towns, we don’t have walls round gardens, nor solid wood fences: fields have barbed or shire wire and gardens have shire wire or picket-type low fencing.
Winds are measured by the Beaufort Scale. (For some fun definitions go here!) Anything up to a Force 7 (‘near gale’, wind speed 32 – 38 mph) is referred to here as “a tad breezy”. At that point you put your head down when walking outside, and only open one car door at a time. Force 8 (‘gale’, to 46 mph) is “getting windy” – fighting to get the door open and trying to put off going shopping. Force 9 and 10 (‘severe gale’ and ‘storm’ to 54 and 63 mph) start to cause comment and Force 11 (‘severe storm’, to 72) and above starts to affect daily life. The scale stops at Force 12, known as Hurricane, with wind speeds over 73 mph.
The wind was really getting up by the time I went to bed last night. Hail was again being thrown at the bedroom window with considerable force and I had to put the radio up to hear it over the noise. About 11 pm the electric went out and we had a couple of blasts of thunder.
This morning I stayed in bed as long as I could! The house was freezing and the electric was still off. One plans one’s wardrobe carefully under such conditions, knowing exactly where things are and what order to put them on! My underwear and socks were within reach, so they had 10 minutes under the duvet with me before I started! Then it was dash out of bed and get into the clothes as quickly as possible. THIS is why I have socks in different sizes (big over smaller) and thermally lined ankle boots as slippers! My Norwegian wool thermals were essential, followed by cashmere and alpaca on top, and a long, heavy skirt (much warmer than trousers).
Fortunately no one in their right minds is out of doors unless they have to, so no one could see me sitting in the house with my sheepskin hat on and cashmere-lined leather gloves! Who cares? – all those natural animal fibres definitely keep one warm!!
My MP3 player was (fortunately) fully charged so I was able to listen to the radio and to find out that various islands were without power, and that they hoped to have us on by mid afternoon. I also found out that the highest gust was measured over the hills in Evie at 122 mph and several places recorded steady speed of over 100 mph, a Class 2 hurricane. (If you are on Facebook find Radio Orkney and there are pix of the charts. And do watch the video clip – those cliffs in the second part are a couple of hundred feet high…)
The power came back on early afternoon and now the house has warmed up. I am still somewhat tired, but if those forecasts are right we should get a quieter night tonight. Here’s hoping!