29 actually. In October 1987 southern England was struck by a hurricane. A Thursday night of carnage. One woman went outside fearing for her new VW and determined to put it safely in her garage. As she let up the door, one of those tip up jonnies, the wind gusted past her and lifted the roof off its fittings. That removed the structural security and the walls collapsed followed immediately by the now unsupported roof. She was left holding the door with nowhere for her VW and a large building bill.
I was in Peru as it happened, unaware of the devastation but when we returned the loss of mature trees, the oaks and beeches was hard to take. In places the freak way wind twists, tornado-like meant long established trees were plucked from the middle of woods. It was tragic. And in the acres across Sussex and Kent the damage was awful. Sevenoaks became Oneoak, Chanctonbury Ring became Chanctonbury Stumps.
That was then. Dog and I and a friend, the Lay Trustee headed for Knowle Park, a rather glorious National Trust property just outside Sevenoaks (they kept the name and replanted the trees). Our autumn colours may to be as spectacular as in New England but they are still rather splendid so a walk did seem like a plan.
And what was really noticeable was the way the trees that weren’t uprooted have thrived in the more open environment while new trees are beginning to fill the gaps.
We wandered east along the Greensand way and then, reaching Ightham Moat we circled back along the valley for a late lunch.
You can’t beat Sussex for this sort of escarpment stroll in the autumn mists. Especially when there are deer a plenty to capture on film.
Sadly our pub lunch was disrupted by the local Hunt descending just before we arrived meaning the queue for food was too long by where there is a National Trust house a cafe is not far behind.
We were replete and suitably tired: perfect preparation for the theatre that evening.