Two storms


My hairdresser was complaining about the weather this morning. And to be honest, today has been a sludge of grey from dawn to dusk, without a hint of direct sun throughout. It’s harder for me to understand a dislike of wild weather though. Of course, atmospheric conditions can be destructive and dangerous, even in Britain’s generally measured climate. down south however, we don’t get proper storms very often and they are a genuine thrill to get out and run in, an opportunity not be missed.


This far east, we just caught the very edge of Ophelia. The most notable aspect was the red sky; whether caused Saharan dust or particulate matter from Portuguese forest fires, it certainly gave the day an apocalyptic feel. In town the pace slowed as all eyes turned to the sky, people careful not to bump into one another. Out on the downs some hours later, we found ourselves under the end of the grey clouds, the already low sun visible through the last thin wisps of the system. This natural filter highlighted the sparkling white of the chalk cliffs and the baby blue of the choppy waters, the scene popping like an imagined Lichtenstein landscape . No sunset sadly, but we watched the big red sun wink out behind a far off bank of clouds as we stepped back into the van.


Not but a few days had passed before Storm Brian was being being discussed in serious terms across the airwaves and screens and print. This looked set to be more of the real deal, with 50mph winds and heavy rain throughout the morning, before moving on in the afternoon. I had a brunch date out in the country, so the morning it had to be, come rain, or wind, or shine. It turned out to include all three. The long climb up from Carisbrooke to Brighstone Forest was fairly uneventful, a persistent headwind punctuated by swirling gusts which I could foresee as the fallen leaves on the path ahead would suddenly whip up in a spiral, seconds before the gust would bash me in the face.


Bryony and the dog met me for the second, and far more challenging, section. The rain came in short bursts, but with thrilling abandon, soaking us to the skin in seconds. Ten minutes later and we reached the coast in bright sunshine, but with the turn in direction the wind was directly in our faces and at times strong enough to almost bring us to a halt, regularly diverting me from the path. Thankfully it was an onshore wind, as the sea was a roiling, muddy mess, not somewhere you’d want to end up.


Showered, watered and fed, snuggled up in front of a wood-burning stove with a good book; reason enough to embrace the weather of the wilder seasons. It’s probably my favourite time of year to run, before the mud gets to thick and the temperature drops to uncomfortable levels. Even my hairdresser admitted she’d been down to the sea to have a look at the waves, albeit from behind the windscreen of a car!