The warnings have gone out, the South of England, that's us, are to be battered by hurricane force winds and heavy rain starting this evening and into Monday … I know they have to err on the side of caution, but is it really going to be all that bad? Lovely here at the moment. Michael Fish has advised we batten down the hatches this time!  

I have been thinking about that storm, 25 October 1987, and how it affected my little life back then, I realise sharing this with you gives away just how ancient I am, certainly makes me feel it when I count up the years! However, it was really pretty dramatic at the time. 

I lived in a cute, but rather damp little flat above some old stables, on a private estate, where I worked as the stables manager. My employers, who lived in the big house, just a bit further up the drive, were away at the time. 

I don't remember much about the day, but certainly the evening was fairly wild, wet and windy. I had lit my little wood burner and was watching telly with my beloved dog Brindle on the sofa next to me, aware that there was a bit of a hooley going on outside. I had gone to bed, but couldn't sleep as the wind was making such a racket, there were large trees within feet of the back and side of my bedroom. 

In the early hours the burglar alarm went off at the big house,  I threw on a coat over my PJs and went outside, where I met the housekeeper, who lived in the flat next to mine, and together we fought against the elements to the house, to meet the police, who were apparently on their way to re-set the alarm or deal with intruders or something, no self-respecting bugler would be out in that weather would they?  We could hardly stay on our feet, and we had to shout at each other over the terrific roar of the wind. The power went off, and with it the alarm and having waited for what seemed like ages we abandoned the big house to return to the safety of our beds - the police never showed up.

As light dawned it was clear that this had been no ordinary storm - no way was my trusty Fiat Panda  (stop-it) going to leap over all those fallen trees in the drive, so Brindle and I set off on our expedition the mile or so down the hill to the yard - took a very long time, there were so many trees to clamber over. Thankfully, all the horses were safe and sound, as were the buildings.  No power of course, or phones - just my little battery radio, giving out regular updates of damage and lives lost as a result of hurricane storm winds over the South of England.

For three weeks I had no power, which meant no hot water or cooker either, thankfully I had a little pan in which I cooked bacon and stuff on top of my little wood burner, no shortage of firewood of course. I scrounged hot baths from various friends, many kindly fed me too, bless them. 

My lasting impressions of that great storm was the terrific roar of the wind, and it's awesome power. Once out and about, especially on the horses, the sight of all those beautiful trees, flattened like matchsticks for miles around the hangers of Selbourne, and the top of Noah Hill looking like a bald head.

I do hope they've got it wrong this time ..  we'll tie down a few things today,  put away some garden furniture and pot plants, and I might move Boris the Morris (car) to a safer place than his current abode in part of the field shelter.  I may decide to keep the mums and crias in, I think the other pacas will be OK - they will probably huddle together in the middle of the field,  we have trees everywhere, but when ever we've had gales before they seem to stay away from the trees.

Anyway, good luck where you are ...  keep safe and stay off the roads as much as possible, and lets hope its all a storm in a teacup!


The sun came out briefly this afternoon, which improved my mood considerably .. I won't bore you with the details, but lets just say I had a difference of opinion with a car salesman, IGNORANT PIG, which left me VERY ANGRY... sorry, I'm over it now, and have my car back .... at last, after 11 days.

Anyway, sun out and trees looked stunning, so I took the camera out for a bit of paca-therapy - always works. They always look so beautiful against the autumn colours, don't they.

OK I promise not to shout anymore ...  oooh - lots of lightning going on outside now, so guess we may get a power cut, which is normal for us in a thunder storm - must go and find some candles just in case. TTFN


- just not blogging! It's so mild for the middle of October, not that I'm complaining, we have masses of grass and it'll save on our Autumn feed and hay bill, they're all in very good condition! Only one problem with having so much grass is that most of the time it's too wet to poo pick, Peter, however doesn't view it as a problem is enjoying the break from his job! The crias are growing out really well - they're full of beans and I spent a happy 10 minutes or so, as the sun was going down, watching them all have a funny five minutes racing around the front field. The girls were definitely in the lead by the way, led most of the time by Flopsie and Bossy Boots.

We had some of our mated females scanned the other day, mostly the maidens, there were quite a few we didn't scan, we know them so well we can trust their spit-offs. It appears we have 20 pregnant females, a couple less than I thought, confused maidens who were running away at spit-off time, late developers maybe, anyway, 20's plenty to be going on with. Now I just have to wait til mid summer to see what we get.

Earlier this week the weather was just perfect and I was helping my friend Donna on her vineyard, which is on the hill just behind us. The view from their land is stunning, they're quite a bit higher than us and can see right over the Meon Valley and to the hills beyond.  I'd never picked grapes before, I found it really therapeutic, I had to try the odd one or two of course, they were surprisingly sweet, but with tough skins.  I'm looking forward to tasting the finished product in a few years time when it's been turned into Poppy Down Champagne. The bunches of grapes were so beautiful hanging there in the sunshine - I just had to take pictures of them.

Yesterday we hosted another training day for the Southern Alpaca Group, entitled 'Get it out of the Barn', which was given by Jean Field, all very inspiring and she brought along lots of samples of fabulous yarn and knitted products. Everyone seemed to enjoy the day and all learnt a lot and hopefully will now do something with their fleeces. Jean used one of our fleeces to demonstrate the importance of 'skirting'  before sending it away for processing.  I normally spend a few minutes on each one as it comes off at shearing time, doing just that, but this fleece was one that I hadn't done, thanks to one of our females, Calico, having a torsion and taking me away from my usual job right in the middle of shearing ... bless her, she was Ok and so was her cria by the way. The fleece certainly needed skirting and there must be a few more that I need to check before I send them off to UK Alpaca. Then our own fleece barn (stable) will be empty again, apart from just a few really pretty grey and appaloosa fleeces, which I would love to get spun, or even spin myself if I can remember how to do it and find the time! Even all our 'rubbish' legs and bellies, have gone off to Penrose Products to make duvets, one of which we now sleep under, and lovely it is too.

What else have I been doing ... oh yes painting, the kitchen, and the dog room, makes the rest of the house look a bit dull, but at least I've made a start. I'm on a bit of a clear out mission too, though it's more like mission impossible, why do we have so much stuff?
Soggy bums this morning
My planned, first time for ages, Sunday morning lay-in was scuppered far too early this morning by torrential rain and thunder ...  I like thunderstorms actually, but couldn't it have waited til at least 7am? As the rain pelted down in, what sounded like hose pipe proportions, I realised I had left the window open and got up to close it - a flash of lightening revealing all the pacas sat in a huddle in the middle of the field - I knew they wouldn't be cold though - each wearing their own alpaca duvet, and I snuggled back under mine! We've had a dry hour or two this morning so I did the rounds, and fed everyone, and then walked the dogs in the dry. Now its pouring with rain again, and windy, but still very mild. All the pacas are absolutely soaked, a shame as I have a couple coming on a beginners course this afternoon - soggy pacas don't leave the same impression as lovely dry fluffy ones do they! May have to be a slightly longer session in the classroom, with frequent tea and biscuit breaks! I hope they remember their waterproofs!

Oh, and one last item - our electricity poles have been replaced - we scrounged the old ones for gate posts and a shelter I'm planning to put up, and the boys just had to supervise!