Sturm und Drang

It has to be said that this was not the least exciting week one could have spent on Britain’s motorways. Down was fine: we were heading for East Anglia, so stopped in Beverley and Louth. Crossing the Forth Bridge (southbound) on the way down, I saw something I’d never seen before: cloud lying so low that the top third of the bridge’s great supports disappeared into mist like a Hiroshige print. The Forth Rail Bridge, to the east, was doing the same trick; its great rust-red spans dwindling into white abut two-thirds of the way up. Beverley is a fine little town, Louth even nicer; I am only sorry to learn that in the last day or so at least some of Beverley ended up under water. That day involved yet another mighty work of engineering, viz. the Humber Bridge, and very fine it was too. We were heading, ultimately, for a poet’s house, which was on the Yarmouth side of Norwich, and in the process of getting there, discovered exactly why the Norwich school of painters produce these pictures with huge, complicated skies, with the odd church tower poking up in the distance. It was an idyllic weekend of books, cats, and discovering things in common, antiquarian expeditions, rood screens and angel roofs. Just as well, since after that things turned definitely nasty. We got a look at the Cotmans in the Norwich art museum on Monday, which wasn’t nasty at all, but when we eventually hit the road, weather started coming down in sheets. Our mobile phone ran out of griblets mid negotiate, and we ended up running before the wind to Stamford, where, instead of an economical B&B (since the first six, while the phone was still with us, had said ’sorry, we’re full’), we threw ourselves upon the ample bosom of the George, a coaching inn which has been there since about the thirteenth century. We used to have lunch there from time to time when we lived in Warwickshire, and I often wondered what it might be like to stay. Terrifically comfortable, was the answer; ‘luxury’ was interpreted to a rather comically Eighties extent (our room was sort of postmodernist Gustavian), but that aesthetic at least produced huge thick curtains to keep the light out, and made it very easy to enjoy a good night’s sleep. Just as well, really, since we sallied Northwards on the A1 and ran, inevitably, into Midlands flooding. The road was closed a bit North of Newark, and it took more than an hour to get off it. I did a bit of psychogeographic mapreading — since we were in the general area of the Lincolnshire Levels, I plotted a course which went from one old settlement to another via other old villages, on the theory that, since that had always been an area prone to flooding, if I stuck to old roads, they would by definition go along ridges. A theory which I am happy to say, did not let us down, and enabled us to get back onto the A1 without further trouble. Some ten hours later, we limped into our friends’ house just north-east of Edinburgh. Today had its moments too: we had a tyre blow out on the A90, and just about the ‘we’re nearly home’ point when you start to think the worst is over, the Almighty elected to dump quite literally two inches worth of hailstones in the environs of Brechin, reducing traffic to about 20 mph as it crawled through the resultant slippery slush. Still, we got home in the end, and Dr Biswell was there to greet us. The impulse not to go anywhere for quite some time is currently strong.

4 Responses to “Sturm und Drang”

  1. The Other German Guest Says:

    Brilliant thinking, sticking to the old roads. Glad to see you managed to reach home safe.

  2. carol Says:

    Peripatetic academics are a resourceful and hardy breed.
    Dispatch just in from the last tweedy bachelor, who was viva-ing in Halifax just in time to meet the deluge. and spoke happily of emergency accommodation at the Great Whatever railway hotel in those parts; less so of the need to undertake an entirely holistic trip home on whatever train, anywhere, was going anywhere else (Manchester included, which isn’t a particularly common option in Halifax-Worcester navigational circles, I believe). Made it in under 10 hours and with dry feet, which ain’t bad this week.
    Flatmate’s family in Rotherham flooded, but not flooded out, up trees or threatened by bursting dams as yet. Meadowhall apparently under 4 feet of water- I have mixed feelings about this.

  3. Eleanor Says:

    We have been hit with thunderstorm after thunderstorm all week. Much flooding, too, washing great bits of our road down the mountain with it. Sunday we had 5 hours of constant thunder and lightening and reportedly up to 8″ of rain in that time period. Frequent interruptions of power, internet, and satellite have been at work as well. Today with internet up, we received a message from poor wet Emma in Hull with many tales of flooding there. Home, indeed, sounds like a good spot to be.

  4. Will Says:

    A perfect 30 degrees in Faro so far, with endless sunshine. I have become less bothered with rainy Larkin and more devoted to Hemingway in such circumstances, especially as we both practically share a birthday ….

Leave a Reply