February 2023: "From A New Forest Inclosure” by Ian Thew

February 2023: "From A New Forest Inclosure” by Ian Thew

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good’ is an idiom that has been knocking around in the English language in one form or another since the mid fifteen hundreds.  This adage crossed my mind recently as I lay in bed in the early hours of the morning listening to a hooligan of a wind that was screaming through the Forest trees and moaning about the house.  Doors rattled and windows shook and every so often the ghostly and spine-chilling voice of the wind haunted the eaves.  Downstairs the dogs barked and, during an occasional lull between the violent gusts, the steel shoes of the spoilt pony could be heard on the stable yard as she grew more and more restless with this exceptional storm.   

The dark, early hours of the morning are renowned as the most depressing time of day and my mind began to imagine the most horrible repercussions; will the big oak tree that towers over the front of the house come crashing down?; will the stable roof be there in the morning?; will the fences remain intact and will we lose our electricity supply? My gloomy contemplations were dashed into insignificance by the sudden, painful crack of a splitting, submitting limb followed by the house-shaking thump as it crashed to the ground.  I’d like to say that I bravely donned my gear and went out into the tempest to investigate – but I can’t. I drew the duvet tight around me and tried hard to dispel from my thoughts the enumerable disasters that might be happening outside.   

After a couple more hours without sleep, dawn began to reveal the mayhem outside.  Through the window, the trees were in turmoil; thrashing into each other with such ferocity that it seemed that the whole Forest would come crashing down at any minute.  A daylight inspection revealed two fallen and substantial beech limbs, fortunately, just beyond the perimeter fence and a section of stock fencing that had been broken by a frightened pony that was temporarily lodged in the bottom paddock.  Our property, thank goodness, had survived the ordeal with a minimum of damage; the not-so-ill wind subsided and the sun showed and all seemed well with our part of the world. 

There’s another old adage, however, something about not counting chickens until they’re hatched! During that night the wind returned with a vengeance and once more sleep was lost because of the sheer noise and ferocity of the storm.  The next morning the lights flickered a few times and then finally died and all power to the property died with them.  Although inconvenient, I was not too disturbed by this turn of events - after all there was, sitting in the workshop, a recently overhauled and serviced generator – wasn’t there? 

I removed the cover from the ‘genny’ pulled and pushed all the appropriate knobs and turned the key.  My efforts were rewarded with a feeble groan from the starting motor – the battery was as dead as a Dodo.  Fortunately the machine is equipped, for just such a situation, with a pull cord and after much pulling, sweating and not a little swearing the engine burst into life and settled down to a reassuring tick-over, as it should do.  I was pleased with my success and decided that, now we had some power, a hot cup of tea would be the first item on the agenda - not so, I’m afraid. After a few minutes the engine revs increased dramatically and thick smoke appeared from somewhere below and the production of home-brewed electricity came to an abrupt halt!   

Fortunately, the good engineers from the Electricity Board restored our supply by late afternoon and I did, after all, manage to purchase the fallen limbs which will keep us warm next winter, so perhaps it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good. 

Must go now – I’m getting puffed-out!

Ian Thew 

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