Where were you on 15/16 October 1987? That night, I was in bed at home in the top (4th) storey of a Victorian semi in Lewisham South London. With nothing front and back to block the wind, it gave the house a good old battering, but the house withstood it, as it had Hitler’s bombs and doubtless other insults over the century and more that it had existed. However, the noise was horrendous and, partway through the night, two frightened little girls (age 2 and 6) came into our bedroom and spent the rest of the night in Mummy and Daddy’s bed.
I am told that the Westcountry was much less badly affected, but here, in Ilfracombe, in the house I now live in, an old tree was blown down. Sadly, I am told it is one of three planted by Admiral Downe to celebrate the Battle of Trafalgar (1805). One other had been lost in Victorian times, but the third, a magnificent copper beech, is still going strong.
By the time you read this, we will all know if history has repeated itself on the thirtieth anniversary of the Great Storm of 1987.
Last week, I mentioned the Care Quality Commission’s report on the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust. Since then, I have seen a more wide-ranging report. North Devon doesn’t come out too badly, but we apparently fall down on maternity, gynaecology and A&E, so better not get pregnant, best don’t be female and certainly don’t have an accident in our region. We also have some fairly serious predictions that the NHS as a whole is on the brink of disaster. For goodness sake, we are not a poor country. We apparently have over £56Billion (note: BILLION, not million) to spend on HS2; surely we can find a couple of billion to put the NHS right. Spending money to maintain a healthy workforce must make sense.
I am looking forward to a talk by the well-known local historian, Peter Christie, on how North Devon has embraced new technology over the years, from cars and trains, to cinema and computers. At Ilfracombe Library from 6 to 7pm, Wednesday 18th October.
I had hoped to be able to try the restaurant at the Darnley Hotel in Belmont Road. Unfortunately, the lovely old building it is in shares with many other lovely old buildings a certain inaccessibility to the disabled. However, I am told that, if I can't manage the steps, they can serve on the ground floor, so I won't be able to see the restaurant, but I will be trying the food in the near future. Both the new owners and the new chef seem to be very enthusiastic, which is always a good start. They are open to non-residents for lunch and dinner. If you should happen to go there, perhaps you could let me know what you think.
26th October and the AGM of the Ilfracombe Victorian and Steampunk Celebration are rapidly approaching. The AGM will take place in Pip & Jim’s Hall from 7pm. I hope everyone interested in the continuance of the event will do their best to be there. Would you also give some thought as to whether you would be prepared to serve on the committee. We have lost several members over the last few years and some of the existing members are having to cut their workload. Without new and keen members, the whole event could fold.