Where Were You When the Big One Hit?

October 16, 1987? I was still in America. Those in England remember the devastation and deaths from the Hurricane that hit these isles unexpectedly in the early hours of the 16th. Not until now have I learned that a small collection of trees on top of the south downs, the Chanctonbury Ring, were mostly blown down. Historic trees knocked out for ever.

But how our memories can play tricks. We’ve been discussing details of the storm of 1987, in particular the Michael Fish gaff. (Google his name if you want to find out about what happened). However some memories have their origin in a later, and more devastating, event. From the Burns Night storm of 1990, which I remember, and survived. This time the weather forecast gave us good warning. All the same I was out driving to Newcastle Airport to pick up a monk flying in from the US. Branches were flying across the road and I remember thinking, This feels dangerous! It was, very.

This evening a chap at the Priory had his cell phone on. He was ‘on call’ for trees, that’s trees blown down over roads which have to be removed what ever the time of day, or night. Thankfully there is not a puff of wind this evening.

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3 thoughts on “Where Were You When the Big One Hit?”

  1. Sad to think most of the ‘Ring’ has gone.

    Back in the 1960’s I used to walk a lot along that part of the South Downs and as far along as the Arun gap. In those days it was still a very grassy landscape, like the prairies, and grazing was common.

    Although the bit around the ridge path is still sometimes as it was much of the grassland was ploughed over in the 1970’s as part of a drive to grow more wheat and a lot of the topsoil has been lost.

  2. A thought for the subtle and unseen losses. In last twenty or so years, 250,000 miles of hedgerows have been removed. Enough from the earth to the moon. A prayer for all those sentient beings who lost their home, food and lives as a result.

  3. Tell me about the hedgerows! I love them with a passion. when I was a child in East Sussex I’d watch the man ‘lay’ the hedge in our road. It seemed he did it every year but probably not. In Reading when I was the prior there I planted a mixed hedge the length of the back garden. I have night mares about somebody cutting it down! So far it has remained and flourished. Thanks wayfinder for remembering the hedges and all who live in and on them.

    And Iain, I too walked on the Downs in the 1960’s and watched those blue winged butterflys and gazed at the wild flowers and picked up bits of chalk. Not been up there in years

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