That was our experience upon waking in our warm beds this morning and indeed upon our run towards Bamburgh, where the particular peace was almost palpable, as this picture portrays. Whatever the south of the country had been going though, we had had none of it. In fact the night had been sprinkled with gorgeous stars, the air clear and quiet, and the dawning – well, you can see what it was like. Yet the BBC tells us that from Cornwall to East Anglia there are no trains; that at least two unfortunates have been killed by falling trees; that there has been flooding, damage to houses, lives lost at sea and in freak explosions. It is all true and it has mattered: what doesn’t matter is whether the wind and rain was slightly more or less intense than the experts suggested they might be; or indeed whether all this has more or less significance because it affected the south rather than the north. For now that the calm after the storm is beginning to descend, we hear the twittering in the eaves, and gossipy sparrows are complaining about whose suffering is more worthy, and indeed whether the soft southerners shouldn’t toughen up and take things in their stride a bit more, as we do up here – where the wind rages fiercely frequently and no one further south neither knows nor cares. What use, I ponder, is such kibitzing? Today a nice Hungarian lady, carrying her first baby inside her, visited the house; she was full of warmth and interest in an old man’s needs even though he was as yet a stranger and a foreigner to one born a thousand miles away upon the plains. What a joy! Cockney and Scot, Magyar and Northumbrian (not at all the same as Geordie, mind!): just like the Dickens Dogs and me – pulling together, into the wind, trying our best to get where we have to go; prepared for the worst and hoping for the best.
Here I eventually see and ponder the passing in front of Inner Farne of the Trinity House vessel, Galatea, setting off for a day’s work cleaning buoys around the islands and Lindisfarne, the Holy Island. Isn’t it peaceful (except for me – sorry!)?