Spirit of a Nation

I'm ashamed to admit that, when news of the devastating earthquake in Nepal broke, I didn't take a great deal of notice. Not that I didn't care, but I don't watch TV nor do I buy newspapers. Anything that goes on in the world often passes me by. And only when I read about it on Facebook, Twitter or my weather forum; or a friend says 'Isn't it awful about…….' do I take any notice and make it my business to read the Headlines.

So I read all about the devastation in that most beautiful of countries. And I was shocked and saddened by what I saw. The poor people in a state of shock wondering what the hell had happened, while sitting amongst the ruins of what had once been their home. Ancient temples and monuments in ruins, and rescuers retrieving bodies from the rubble. Children, forlorn and weeping for their lost families while yet more aftershocks rocked the land and terrified them afresh. Poor, poor souls, I thought, and, exhorted to give generously, I did. And got on with my life.

Then today, I watched a Panorama documentary on BBC I player about the Nepal disaster and one man's lucky escape from Mt Everest.

Tom Martienssen, a BBC reporter was filming a party of British Army Ghurkas who were attempting the summit of Everest to mark two hundred years of service in the British Army. One of the men had just completed four tours of Afghanistan, but he considered climbing Everest much more daunting.

With them was a group of Sherpas, brave men who guided climbers up the mountain with little regard for their own safety, as long as the climbers were looked after. As Martienssen discovered later, the Sherpas had left homes and families to do this most dangerous and skilled of jobs.

Two of the Sherpas, Kumar and Tensing were filmed at Base Camp and smiling into the camera. Martienssen's voice over is chilling as he says that 'Within hours, they would be dead'. Poor souls.

As the party, with Martienssen, strike out for Camp One, a very dangerous climb over deep crevasses and ice, those left behind at Base Camp, including the Sherpas, have no idea that within hours, the area would be hit by a horrendous earthquake and the men at Camp One would be stranded.

The earthquake, which is felt on the mountain, is accompanied by terrifying avalanches which completely engulf Base Camp, killing eighteen, including Kumar and Tensing, and seriously injuring many more. And, when Tom and the others are rescued and brought down the mountain, they are confronted by rows of orange canvas tents covering the bodies of their friends and colleagues. A sight which, Tom says, haunts him for a long time afterwards.

Later, and on a mercy dash with army personel to deliver food and other essentials to out-lying villages, Martienssen is overwhelmed when, amidst such devastation and poverty, the locals offer to share their food with him. Others are busy re building roads so aid can get through to those in need. It looks like a skilled job, much like dry-stone walling in Yorkshire. Temporary school buildings are being put up for the local children and it's a race against time as the Monsoon season is imminent. But local Ghurkas have rolled up their sleeves and are working hard to have the building completed in time.

Most poignant of all is when Tom visits the widows and families of Kumar and Tensing. The devastated women weep as they talk about their lost loved ones, and wide eyed children look with delight at their photos on Tom's mobile phone. And even then, the families offer to share their food with the TV crew and also a place to sleep.

A nation of such spirited, generous and hard working people deserve to have their country whole again. But can it ever be the same? The temples, homes and monuments as they knew them have gone forever. There are people who have lost not just one but many members of their family. Children left without their parents and homeless.

My thoughts are with the people of Nepal. And if, by writing this, it brings their plight to others attention, then I feel I have done something for them.

To read more of Tom Mortienssen's story visit This Site



Summer Woes 

There is an old saying here in England that Summer is ‘Three fine days and a thunder storm’. Well, this summer, we have had our three fine days (although not consecutively) and some decent storms in the East Anglian area when, on Friday, June the 5th,  the weather forum I belong to (more of that later) was a-buzz with excitement. And no wonder really, when storms, especially the long lasting or all night variety are as rare as hens teeth these days. Just like the nice weather really. 

I say these days because storms and, indeed real, seasonal summer weather, seemed to be much more prevalent in my childhood; when every day of the six week summer school break was filled with warmth and sunshine. And, after days of endless blue sky and sun, the inevitable, sometimes violent,  thunder storms lasted for hours and filled my poor little mother with absolute terror. 

And the accompanying heavy rain often flooded our basement flat because the ancient drains just couldn’t cope. But we shrugged our shoulders, bailed out the rain water, lifted the (unfitted) carpets, lit the coal fires to dry out the rooms and carried on….until next time. 

However, to get back to summer? 2015, I have just one question…..Where is it?   Flaming June it is not. Every morning it’s like the meteorological version of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. Chilly, damp and miserable. It’s enough to make the most ardent patriot up sticks and move to warmer climes. And where you don’t need to wrap up in thick winter woollies at six am when you pad downstairs to make a cuppa. (Mainly because the cat insists on the back door being left open….as cats do) So I stand shivering over the kettle while an Arctic blast rushes through the house and raindrops the size of £2 coins splatter the newly bought, tartan doormat. Grrrrr! 

And now…here we are on Midsummer Day and it’s dull, overcast and windy. Oh, we have had about an hours worth of sunshine and it is warm. But for June it is still bloody awful. And after tonight…the darkness begins to slowly draw in again. Longer nights, shorter days but at least we won’t see much difference in the weather. Unless we have an Indian Summer when the warmth of September and October wraps one in a soft mantle of gentle Autumnal heat. I love being at the seaside on days like that. 

But we still have the rest of June, and July and August for the weather to redeem its self. When we might experience some hot sunny days with gentle breezes just to take the edge off. And those warm, balmy evenings filled with the scents of roses, honeysuckle and newly mown grass. And the silence of an English country night when all one can hear is a dog barking in the distance, the rustle of trees as they sway in the warm, fragrant breeze. 


And then…another, more ominous sound is heard. 

That sinister, low growl in the distance. The first flickers of lightning on the horizon. And then…the first huge splodges of rain land on the parched, dusty earth…and into your pint. 

Flaming June indeed. 

If you like talking about the weather to like-minded people. Whether you like snow, sun, thunder or hurricanes…then visit This Site  and join in the fun and discussions. You are guaranteed a very warm welcome. And…..you don’t even have to be an English weather lover to join. 

Have a good summer whatever your weather preference. ⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️