We always knew we’d see all weathers living on the plateau above Saint Antonin Noble Val, but nothing quite prepared us for the storm we experienced the night before we returned to the UK.
Following weeks of great weather and a hot, sunny day, we bedded down one evening for a celebratory meal and drinks. Having watched a beautiful but foreboding sunset, within minutes of the sun going down the wind picked up violently, rattled the shutters and bent our beautiful Albizia tree at a right angle.
Seconds later the lights went out and we were plunged into evening darkness. Luckily I had brought 500 tea lights with me from home in a box, which we promptly lit and spent the rest of the evening eating, drinking and bathing in candlelight. As night really took hold, the storm got worse, the thunder and lightning louder and closer and our 5 metre tall corn store that had stood proudly for 60 years was blown over as though it was made of matchsticks. As we were without power there wasn’t much we could do but sit it out until morning. It was one of those experiences both exciting and scary in equal measure – the only way I got through it was with earplugs!
The morning after we discovered, to our dismay, that it was the Albizia that had borne the brunt of the weather and taken out our power lines, a huge oak had also fallen to its knees, another large tree blocked the track to our house, several of our fruit trees had come off badly and our huge corn store had been blown over.
It turns out we were lucky – as we headed into Saint Antonin the next morning the aftermath of the storm was everywhere – trees down, shops in darkness, flooding. In our nearest city – Montauban – thousands were without power. It really was a reminder that owning a big old house, outbuildings, trees and fields is a big responsibility – and one which we won’t take for granted!