blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

In the storms, wind and rain

February 5th, 2014 was an extraordinary day in southern England, or perhaps not so extraordinary any more, since they've had a whole series of storms like it, this winter. A record amount of rain has fallen––the Express says so!––the country is flooded to an unprecedented extent and the high seas have devastated the coastline. We were lucky with our cross country journeys. The day after we travelled from Stafford to London all trains on that line came to a standstill, and our journey from Brighton to London wouldn't have been possible either, a few days after we did that. When we needed to leave Cardiff on the London train from South Wales, we discovered that the trains were running only once an hour instead of twice an hour and actually went no further than Reading, because of floods on the line. Fortunately we didn't need to travel any further than Reading that day (Feb. 11th). We waited for the train on the Cardiff platform in a torrential hail storm and saw a terrific thundercloud (maybe the same storm) on our way to the Welsh border.

Inferior photo of the waves at Brighton, from our hotel room.
Some of the old pier on the right was washed away that day.
While we were in Brighton we had a particularly good vantage point. All we had to do was look out of our window to see waves on the usually meek and mild British Channel such as you might encounter mid-Atlantic. I couldn't take a very good photo because our hotel windows were obscured with rain and spray; they were cleaned the morning after the storm but by then the view wasn't so dramatic. I couldn't have gone outside to take pictures because the water would have soaked the camera and in any case I could hardly stand up in that wind, gusting to 80kph. I had to walk back to the hotel in the afternoon and was blown round a corner and up a side street in a direction I hadn't intended to go. I hung onto some railings so as not to fall over. When I reached the shelter of our room I was so wet, I had to change all my clothes.

Wet street in Brighton
I had gone out to do battle with the elements and explore the town while Chris was battling a bad cold at his conference meetings (which took so much effort that he wasn't up to attending the conference banquet that night). Brighton was hillier that I remembered. Beyond Churchill Square where I did some cursory shopping, I went up Queen's Road to the railway station to pick up tickets for our next journey, then walked downhill on Gloucester Road into the North Laine district which had an almost Asian feel to it, with narrow streets selling odd little things crammed into odd little shops. It began to rain in earnest so I took refuge in the Brighton Museum.

An oddity in the museum
It was the sort of museum that had a glorious mishmash of different things: a painting by L├ęger, Egyptian mummies, the head and foot of a dodo, photos of the Gay Pride processions famously held in Brighton, Toby jugs in a room full of British ceramics, prehistoric flint-stones and 19th century Punch and Judy figures, exhibitions created by school kids of Iranian, Inuit and far eastern cultures, old maps, drawings, toys and costumes. I found some lunch there too.

After my lunch I crossed the gardens originally commissioned by George IV while he was still Prince Regent, as part of the Royal Pavilion, and bought a tour of the Pavilion, a place I'd never visited while we actually lived in this area. I'll describe it in a separate blogpost.

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