MID-AFTERNOON but the day is grey and stormy. The tempete has though merely side-swiped us on its rampage in the west. We’ve had worse, much worse, and although I watched from my windows as my trees kissed the ground; none uprooted as they have in the past.

Miriam’s Mimosa cutting, to replace my 30ft giant that died when the temperatures fell to minus 15C a few years ago, has suddenly sprung up from a twig to a 5ft height in the last couple of months.

It’s swung and swayed but has sprung back as the wind died, perhaps recovering its strength to strike again and do its worst.

The two plastic garden chairs – ugly things – have tossed and turned, and lie upside down feet from the table, legs akimbo, pointing to the heavens.

The wooden ones merely tip into the table itself, staggering, but sturdily staying in their place.

The parasol may, may, just survive for I have wrapped an old dog collar tightly around it so the wind cannot insinuate its skinny, evil fingers to whip it up and smash it to the ground.

The next time a strong man enters my domain I will ask him to lift it from the table and store it in the newly cleared barn…the first of its kind to survive a summer in this parasol graveyard of strange mini-whirlwinds and tempetes.

I have not walked around LM to check for roof tiles that may have been whipped off and crashed on the stones. When Alistair or Ian come, to do the garden or the jobs that old houses always need, they will look and inform me.

That will be time enough, for why seek trouble? Why seek new worries before one needs to?

I worry only when the power fails and I face a night without the comforting searchlight of light on all the dark corners.

It went out two hours ago but has returned which is why I can now write. It flicked on and off for 20 minutes before finally ceasing and I can only hope that whatever caused it in some other area has been solved.

I don’t want to think of a night ahead without, at least, the glow of the nightlight in my bedroom.

I hate the dark. I fear the dark. All the old superstitions of childhood, which lurk just a graze under the surface of this ageing woman, bloom when the lights go off.

And yet, storms, power cut-offs, are part of life here in south west France, increasing year after year.

The first, or maybe the second, year, I was without power for I think three/four days as a great tempete roared through the country, smashing all in its path.

After the initial almost heart-stopping horror of what I was faced with, I placed candles in the rooms I entered; lit the wood burner that gave fierce heat and slight light; shuddered behind the pounding shutters and finally came to a peace with all I feared.

Moving from candle-lit room to room had a gentle timelessness that became comfortingly familiar in the oddest way until my normal thoughts jerked me into the present.

I had no contact with anyone, for my mobile was still UK registered and not an iPhone, if they existed then.

It was my nightmare come true – the silence of the dark as the elements trapped me within a tomb far, far away from all I knew.

On day two, shutters still unable to be opened against the force of the wind, a pounding on the door led to Ian, his vast bulk buffeted by the storm, checking I was OK.

To get here he’d used his chainsaw to cut trees fallen on the roads to my house.

As Portia braced herself outside, barely able to stand, to quickly pee and return, I’d grabbed his jacket and pulled him in. We didn’t know each other well then, but I was touched beyond measure that this man had thought of me and needed to know I was safe and well.

He – and his wife – have now been doing so for 14 years. Can you believe it?

Yet, even after all this time, the fear returns when the power goes. I should be prepared with lanterns and powerful torches all around the rooms: I’m not.

I actually only have a pencil thin torch to see a few feet in front of me, but I have an iPhone to call for help, and a memory that I’ve survived it all before.

Not that I want to go back to those few days at the beginning, living without the comforts of civilisation, such as heat and light.

But, but, there was something so soothing in simply being – simply existing – without any extraneous thoughts or forces.

Soothing in just being sheltered without any worries beyond nature. Soothing that nothing could trouble or intrude upon one. Soothing in that life was reduced to heat and light.

The past is often soothing, non?

Sod that….I need the light. I need the heat. I need electricity. Sorry.