From high on the hill I could see the dark curtain of rain butting up the Channel. Would I reach the station in time to avoid a soaking?
I had just been reading in Wood Avenue Library how, in August 1917, an engine driver had ‘sagaciously’ reduced his speed when a formation of Gotha bombers flew over his train. Sagaciously indeed, since the railway was a target of this raid and the unexploded bomb that hit the track might well have been detonated by a passing train.
As for me – I escaped that squall but its sisters raced our train along the South and East Coasts. You can see them here behind the fields of red and green lettuce that have grown visibly in the last week.
I got my soaking a couple of hours later, when thunder and lightning, wind, rain and hail descended on my daughter’s back garden. Mrs Turnstone had hers yesterday, walking the White Cliffs, her breath taken away by the wind. Hold onto your hats!
That word ‘butting’, implying stubborn progress, comes from John Masefield’s Cargoes, verse 3:
Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.