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Storm damage at Butler's Gap, photo Antony Mair

A lull between storms

The past few weeks haven’t been much fun, weatherwise.  Those of you living outside the UK may have seen the odd snap of people wading through waist-high waters in their living-rooms, writes Antony Mair.

Or perhaps not – the UK media have given zero coverage to the disappearance of beaches and threats to coastal buildings down France’s Atlantic coast.  For those of you ignorant of what’s been happening, I can tell you that there are swathes of the British countryside seriously under water.  Hastings being built on largely hilly ground, we haven’t had the flood problem.  But my God have we had gales.  The Shoebox and its nextdoor neighbour the Matchbox comprise a building two sides of which are built of a timber frame fronted by tiles.  The south-west facing wall is brick with a cement render.  In the winds – which have reached around 80 mph but who’s measuring precisely? – the building moves, particularly noticeably on the top floor.  More importantly, the people who put the cement render on instead of a limestone one, around a century ago, seem to have ignored the fact that cement is inflexible.  So when the building moves, cracks form in the render.  And when the rain is being hurled against the cracked wall at 80 mph it gets in.

Not that we can complain.  We knew there was a problem and it’ll get fixed – rather expensively – this summer.  Quite apart from the dire straits of those in Somerset and the Thames Valley, many of our neighbours have far more to grouse about: leaky roofs and crumbling chimneystacks result in soaked attics, boundary walls have been blown down, a landslip behind a row of houses on the front pinned the occupants in their basements.  And the house shown above lost most of its outside wall into a diminutive side garden.

Today we have had a brief reprieve.  A cloudless sky with a gentle breeze.  We’ve been told more wind and rain are on their way.  It was terrible to begin with – but do you know?  we’re actually getting used to it.  Even so, I’ll be glad when it’s over.

Republished from Postcards from Hastings with kind permission

Posted 08:10 Monday, Feb 17, 2014 In: Hastings Life

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