A wind stronger than any we have felt for some time accompanied us home at dusk yesterday together with a fall in temperature of more than ten degrees. We felt we were driving through what is called here a “tromba d’aria” or wind trumpet – a good name since not only did the wind proceed in a circular motion like a trumpet’s bell but it produced a loud, eerie howling rather like that “wuthering” described in Emily Bronte’s famous novel where she writes:
The wuthering heights is the name of Mr Heathcliff‘s dwelling. ‘Wuthering‘ being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather. Pure, bracing ventilation they must have up there at all times. Indeed, one may guess the power of the north wind blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few stunted firs at the end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun. Happily, the architect had foresight to build it strong: the narrow windows are deeply set in the wall, and the corners defended with large jutting stones.
Well, we had certainly had pure bracing ventilation and the north wind, here called Tramontana, was indeed powerful. Happily too our house’s unknown architect built it strong and so we had no damage at all although one person was sadly killed in our region…
Yet a few thousand miles away in the Philippines the worst tropical storm on record has killed tens of thousands of people and wrecked lives. Listening to the BBC appeal we shall clearly do our little bit to contribute as, indeed, is the Philippine community in Italy which counts almost 150,000 people largely working as carers, restaurateurs and builders, with over 10,000 in Tuscany alone.
The most immediate effect of this storm, apart from strewing the roads with twigs and branches was fact that our electricity was cut off, (causing us to have no alternative to a romantic candle-lit dinner) and, at the moment of writing this post the following morning still is.
Although not completely unprepared we have decided to compile a check-list of items required in the eventuality of a power cut.
- Make sure the torches are always in the right place.
- Ensure there is an adequate supply of candles and know where they are.
- Ensure these candles can burn in safe glass-fronted lanterns.
- Have a wired-up fixed line phone in addition to the cordless ones.
- Make sure you have plain batteries in addition to your rechargeable ones.
- Have a whistling kettle handy.
- Make sure you have a normal safety razor in addition to your electric one.
- Make sure you have a portable radio with a good supply of batteries.
- Allow your cat to sleep on your bed in cold weather as the electric blanket won’t work! (PS If you haven’t a cat use a hot water bottle (or sex)).
- Check items in dysfunctional fridge which might need to be eaten straight away e.g. ice cream…)
- Make sure you have alternative cooking facilities like gas or wood stove or methylated spirits stove.
Any more suggestions would be welcome. We know that this morning we shall buy a wired up fixed-line phone first thing!
Electricity only came to this part of the world less than fifty years ago yet what fuss we create when it’s cut off today…
And if anyone says that global warming is not a fact now they must be bananas – the difference in the temperatures between artificially heated and cold air currents when they collide and create a storm is getting more and more extreme and its effect ever more violent and unforeseen.