The gazebo became mortally wounded at 07.30pm. For hours it had been punched in its sides by the big wind. For hours that brave piece of plastic fought the good fight. We all fought the good fight. Lester: outside for most of the time despite heaving winds, pelting rain, flying roof tiles and rocks which wouldn't stay where he put them (they were supposed to be anchoring the tarpaulins down on the gazebo but the big wind kept flipping them off the tarps as if they were marbles). Me: Inside the gazebo hanging on to it without letting go. Each time I tried to have a rest, the big wind would do a lunge and I had to grab hold again. Boolie: Sitting watching the proceedings, sometimes in the middle of the gazebo, sometimes under the caravan, and then inside the caravan when things got a bit hot in the gazebo. From 4am to 07.30am we fought the fight.
First light: Me, still holding on. Lester, now in the tent holding on mid-way along its length. Boolie, don't know but probably inside caravan. Big, big, gust. No! Big, big, BLAST of a wind hit us. On the left side the brave gazebo was punched. On the right side it took another punch. Then another left. Then another right. Lester holding on, now three feet up in the air. Me holding on, refusing to let my feet lift off the ground but at full arm and body stretch. Then we took a hit from above. It felt as if we were being stamped on by a giant foot. Right in the middle it punched down and the gazebo's back became broken. We wrestled our way out of the debris, rain and wind still beating into us. Grabbing some wooden beams we threw them onto the broken body of the gazebo to hold her down. We would not let the big wind take her away, but even in the moment of her death she still protected our home. Nothing was damaged or broken, except for a bowl of jam jars which were to be recycled for fig-jam-making-time next September.
We stood in the half barn. drenched, and relieved almost, not to have to keep fighting for the life of the gazebo. Valiantly she had battled her way through many other storms, but now she was done. We were done. Nothing we could do but retreat. We laid on the bed for nine hours as the big wind tried to take our gazebo away, tried to get the caravan to rearrange itself, and tried to remove all the tarps from the roofs of the tall barn, the house, and the half barn. It won the tall barn and the house, but the half barn managed to keep its tarps although they became tired and damaged in their struggle.
Shivering, wet, cold, we all three sat and waited for the big wind to go away. I must say that it is true about tough times being character building. I don't think we will ever be quite the same again and that includes the gazebo, who is now minus half of herself, but the other half is so very badly damaged that she is going to be laid to rest tomorrow. Le Gazebo est mort. But we are not! All three of us dried out, had a sleep, and are ready to keep fighting on. May I say that perhaps there are days when camping is not quite such a good thing to be doing, but it still beats sitting in a centrally heated house and spending hours telly-watching. Mmmm. May I rephrase that? Maybe, just maybe, for the odd day or two it might be quite nice to do that - for instance, when another big wind is on its way!
If any of you would like an 'in memorium' piece of Le Gazebo, let me know and I will send you a piece of her in the post. Maybe her courage will attach itself to you and inspire you to hang on when varying sorts of big winds blow through your life and threaten to cut you down as well.