Pop-Up Diary (Jan 12) – The Answer My Friend is Blowing In The Wind

My first new year ever away from Tyneside had been great. A Time to relax with my partners family in Scotland with a programme of joyous celebrations interspersed with chill out periods and some fun activities (see this previous post to see us at our creative zenith). We were entertained via a ukelele, heard death curdling screams, got covered in kitten dust and even learnt the term for the water at the bottom of a loo brush holder. But all the time we were aware of the weather, the constant nagging feeling the wind was picking up, the possibility of rain or even snow. It didn’t effect our enjoyment – well not until January 3rd.

Four days earlier, Cyclone Ulli began to form off the coast of New Jersey.  In the next few days, it grew in strength as it travelled over the Atlantic. Finally reaching Ireland and wiping out power to over 10,000 homes. Meanwhile in Scotland (January 2nd) an amber warning for high winds and snow had been given out. Even at this point when visiting a local eatery the weather was gusty winds with squally showers. i.e. Very Scottish but still we didn’t expect what was to come….

January 3rd and It didn’t look hopeful. Opening the curtains that morning I first noticed a plastic heron which usually resides in a pond a few hundred yards away sat in the middle of the lawn. The trees blew in the distance to an almost constant 45 degrees and the bash of twigs against windows didn’t bode well for our journey home. A look at travel websites confirmed our fears, trains had been cancelled from Falkirk to Edinburgh, scuppering our usual initial start route. Looking at news sites showed the extent of the problem, the west coast of scotland was taking a complete battering. In Glasgow walls had fallen and cars were strewn with collapsed trees. The path the winds were taking followed almost our journey home, heading eastward towards Edinburgh where winds had been measured up to 102mph. Even at this point we continued to be hopeful, two friends had stayed over and were travelling back to the capital and offered us a lift. meaning we could directly get to Waverley station and hopefully escape to the less stormy North East of England. Bags were quickly packed, goodbyes said and our journey began….

Within 400 yards we had seen our first collapsed tree, conveniently it hadn’t fallen over the drive but away to the side. It would be the first of many that littered the sides of the road. Radio news was filled with the latest reports warning of not going out in the car unless absolutely necessary, but we continued on carefully on the motorway until diverted after a goods truck had tipped over on the outskirts. Finally we reached the usual bustling city, that was very windswept and slightly desolate. Police warning tape blew in the wind around pavement areas where century old granite stone work had fallen, in another street a traffic light swayed like a dandelion stalk that had lost its flower and in another an errant rubbish bin slowly meandered down a hill… Relief at reaching the station was quickly met with disappointment as we found it closed. A large group of travellers awaited outside seeking a way out. In this confusion nothing was apparent, no radio reports was indicating why… only the clear thinking of our friends who invited us to their home, to find out information and have a tea… It was only then I noticed the vibration of my phone, my parents calling from Gateshead relaying BBC news coverage of a collapsed station roof and the suspension of the East Coast Rail line to Newcastle.

With a warm brew in hand we watched the constant news stream looking for a sign of hope but it was very apparent no trains were leaving possibly that day. We were lucky not only did our hosts offer instantly to put us up but our employers understood our perdicament and allowed us another days holiday. Another night in Edinburgh is not a hardship, and with the wind continually blowing it would have been easy to stay in and keep warm… but we ended up going out. A walk into town was kind of dangerous, with the roaring through the trees and the creaking of metalwork. Again bits of stonework, flashing and roofing had found itself onto footpaths as we strolled up to a desolate Princes Street. Later we would take shelter in the Kenilworth and the fantastic Stockbridge Tap and then return to the flat for food, warmth and a good laugh. In the end did the weather spoil our day… No it created a great experience.

The ever changing British weather constantly creates our days, our topics of conversation and our moods. I love the snow (except when 2 inches cause the Metro system to seize up), I love the summer sun for our 2 days a year (except when I get sunburnt) and I even quite like rain (except when my hoodie gets soggy and I have to wear it all day). Most of all I am blessed with where I live and the weather conditions we get. The text above sounds dramatic, and sometimes at the time it was, but this was just a strong gale (like Hurricane Bawbag before it). It wasn’t a proper Hurricane or a Tornado. There wasn’t a Tsunami or a Monsoon. We don’t get massive earthquakes or tremors. Infact all we usually get is the odd high wind, the odd whiteout of snow and a few floods. We are so lucky where we live.

So as the British weather changes so quickly, why did it take me so Long to make this pop-up? It shouldn’t have been hard, its only a simple Pull tab with moving picture. It comprises of two pieces, a backplate with a half  of the two images adjoined together and a  second piece comprising of the missing images separated by an equally sized gap, a pull tab and a small obstruction piece. These fit snuggly into a sleeve  allowing the mechanism to work freely with the latter mechanism on top. An image sized window is cut out from the sleeve. This was then placed into another sleeve with yet another window cut out, to form the actual postcard itself. Initially when lined up in the picture is made up of the 2 halves of image B (one each from the upper and lower piece). As the tab moves and is it finally held in place by the small obstruction piece, stopping exactly with the cut out gap fitting over image A on the lower and in turn revealing its own Image A, forming the whole picture. (See the roughly drawn diagram). This exactness is what caused the issues, the lining up of pictures and the cutting of windows and obstruction pieces were as complicated as this explanation.

The final effect is a postcard showing a traditional set of Edinburgh views which is transformed when a tab is pushed in following the wind direction. The scene changes from the well known tranquil vistas to the images of mayhem and destruction on January 3rd 2012.


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