Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Stormy weather

Right now, we’re having some very windy and even stormy weather. Last Sunday gales blew up to 90 km per hour in and around Brussels and even up to 100 km per hour and more in the coastal areas. There was important damage to houses and in some areas roads were blocked by trees that had been blown over. And it looks like we are in for more bad weather during the coming days.

These storms remind me of a weekend trip we made in the spring of 2008 to the Somme Bay on the Northern French coast. We stayed for two nights in a self-catering loft in the old town of Saint-Valérie-sur-Somme. It was located on the top floor of a former boat house. The owner of the building, an antiquarian who had a shop in the town’s centre, used the ground floor as a workshop.

The loft was very spacious, with two bedrooms, a bathroom and a shower room, an open, what we like to call ‘American’, kitchen and a large open living space with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the rooftops of the old town. There was a solid wooden dining table seating eight people and three comfortable couches. The room was decorated with numerous items that obviously had had a previous life in some other people’s homes! The large kitchen cupboard offered a varied and non matching collection of plates and cutlery.

The spacious living room with on the left the 'American' kitchen.

There was no TV set, but two old gramophones that were clearly dating from the sixties and seventies. A vast collection of 45 and 33 vinyl records – ranging from Edith Piaf and Claude François to Paul Anka and Frank Sinatra - provided the necessary musical entertainment.

The first evening and night in these unusual settings were pleasant yet uneventful. On the second day of our stay we drove to Dieppe, where we had lunch and a walk along the seafront. By the time we left Dieppe the wind was blowing rather strongly. The dark clouds that were moving in from over the sea indicated that a storm was brewing. Back in Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme big drops of rain started to fall and we cut short our walk along the estuary.

In our cosy loft we had a meal of langoustines, cheese, baguette and wine. We listened to some music before turning in at about 10 p.m. as the sea air had made us sleepy. We left a small light on in the bathroom and settled in for the night. Some two hours later we were woken by the sound of the wind howling through the rafters of the old roof. The whole building was shaking and the large wooden door leading into the workshop on the ground floor was creaking noisily. It was as if the wooden planking of the floor of the loft was  being pushed upwards each time a new wind gust struck the building.

Somme Bay - beach at Le Crotoy

And then … there was a big ‘BANG’ and the light in the bathroom went out, leaving the loft in complete darkness. While I cowardly stayed in bed, my friend bravely went looking for the main switch. Lit by the light produced by the little flame of his lighter – for once having a man who smokes was a blessing – he carefully made his way towards the fuse box (luckily the proprietor had shown us were it was). The vibrations caused by the wind gusts had caused the main switch to turn itself off. My friend switched it on and the light in the bathroom lit up again.

Before driving home the next morning, we dropped in at the antiquarian’s house to hand back the keys of the loft. When we told him that the lights had gone out because of the violent storm, he looked surprised. “What storm?” he enquired innocently. Apparently the inhabitants of Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme were used to worse weather conditions than the ‘little gale’ of the previous night.



chm said...

Two words:amazing photo!

wcs said...

The wind these past days has been scary. And they say we in for more on Saturday and Sunday! Ugh!

It makes me very nervous.

ladybird said...

chm, No merit here! Shooting this photo was pure luck.

Walt, Nice to read you. Do not worry ... you're living high and dry in a solid house!