Doris Day


No, not her. Why would I write about her? Never liked her films anyway. She was way too sugary sweet. I did have an Aunt Doris. She was lovely. Intelligent, athletic and full of life. She got early onset dementia and didn’t know who she was, or who we were, for years. My dear uncle, who’s still with us, looked after her until she died a few years ago. Very sad situation but an enormous tribute to love.

So, the Doris I’m talking about blew into the marina on a Thursday and did a damned fine job trying to knock our boat over. Not a lot of rain where we were, but wind a plenty, sometimes near 70mph (113kms/hr). We were tossed this way and that from early morning until late evening. Some of the gusts were so strong, we thought at times the ropes tying our boat to the pier were going to snap.

They called it Storm Doris. We, like the Yanks, have succumbed to naming our storms after people. They have to have at least what is known here as an amber warning of rain and wind or any severe weather. Storms hit Britain in a strange pattern. The South might be yellow, the Midlands Amber and the North Red. Sometimes it’s the reverse. Other  times the North might get it all and the South nothing. My best friend’s Uncle Leo in York (Yorkshire) had no Doris at all. Everything hit just west of him or north and south. He just happened to find himself in a pocket of calm. Strange.

The media here loves to trumpet bad weather forecasts. ‘Britain to be hit by gale force winds and heavy snow’ read the headlines. Then you discover that the storm is likely to hit the upper Hebrides in the far north-west of Scotland and we all get worked up for nothing, unless, of course, you live on one of the upper Hebrides.

Doris was supposed to hit the weekend before, but was delayed and sent a few gusts ahead of herself that we thought was it. No chance. Over she came and did her worst a few days later. Trees fell, trains and planes were cancelled, floods were caused, 3 people were killed, mostly from flying debris. I think I read where one woman threw a projectile into the air and it flew back and killed her. Northern Ireland was the worst hit with 130mph winds. Can’t imagine.

So, this one was Doris. British names are different to American ones to an extent. We began the season with Angus then moved on to Barbara (in alphabetical order like the Yanks) and lastly we had Conor. If we get hit again, it will be Fleur then Gabriel, Holly and we have a Kamil in there too. I hope we never get to Wilbert. He would be the last on the list of storms and we’d have to start again. But if there ever is a Wilbert this year, there won’t be much of Britain left to destroy.

Back to the boat on Doris day. The boat was a rockin’ as I said. We had to tie everything down. It was cold enough for a fire but those strong winds caused blow-back and several times we nearly choked to death. Well, my best friend did anyway. I tend not to notice these things. Sure, the smell was strong at times, but nothing serious in my mind. She reminded me that we were inhaling toxic fumes. Maybe. I just didn’t want to know.

Some time in the early afternoon, when the storm was at its height, I decided to do a rubbish run. Big mistake. Several times I had to bend low, protecting the rubbish and myself from flying away. When I got to the bins, the marina warden, Dave, blew by. We could hardly hear each other above the howling wind. And it had started to rain again. Rubbish deposited, I let the wind escort me back to the boat and fought with the pram cover as I unzipped the flap and hung on while getting underneath, into the boat before doing the zip back up before I was carried away to OZ.

Later, my best friend and I decided to take our lives in our hands and head for the Vegetarian restaurant along the way, Woody’s, to eat rather that risk trying to get to the local Sainsbury’s for comestibles. It’s not that far from the marina, but as it was, we were blown along to Woody’s and nearly blown into the canal on the way back. The wind gusted so strongly that water was being sprayed from the canal and the marina. I remember the same effect from a visit to Niagara Falls years before. Only now, I couldn’t tell if this was one of those misty rains we get here or water from the canal. Never got my head up straight enough to tell.

What a day. The late evening was much calmer but the winds picked up again, thankfully not nearly as strong, and have been blowing constantly right through the weekend getting stronger as Saturday moved into Sunday. And wouldn’t you know it, that was Ewan, hot on the heels of Doris. Glad we left the boat before Ewan hit. Next week the weather is going to be unsettled and by the end of the week, we are supposed to be in the minuses at night. Where in hell is Spring? We did have a bit on the Monday before Doris. Nearly reached 20C. And it was sunny too. Fooled us for a moment.

The Brits are nothing if not resilient and sometimes foolhardy in being so. They have weathered many storms over the centuries, both human and mother nature made. I Googled ‘Storms in Britain’ and came up with some startling info, too much to write about now. Maybe some other time. Suffice it to say there have been some doozies. But the Brits prevail. One chap in Sheffield defied the elements during Doris’s fury and ran naked through the centre of the city. Good on ya mate. No Doris or Ewan or Kamil is going to get the best of us….as long as we are full of ale.

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