Last Sunday we returned from the balmy clime of sunny Aberaeron to the remains of snow on roadsides and furious overnight lashing storms. The selfsame ones we'd experienced in that west Wales town nights before.
We returned to our disused trampoline, a warehouse of acorns for squirrels and pigeons and only used by the neighbours' cats .......and not to spring up and catch blackbirds on oak branches! It was overturned like a stray leaf and our white picnic table was upside-down resembling a makeshift raft.
A strange piece of sheeting had been blown against the fence and looked suspiciously like a piece of roofing ( packaging, on close inspection).
All evening and through the night the rain hammered down and I missed the sense of the nearby sea and river Aeron meeting in all its frantic gushing.
Any smugness about our mountain location was dispatched by my young daughter next morning , who was woken by an unwelcome shower......from her ceiling!
Our notoriously prone dormer roof had succumbed to the constant downpours and a crack appeared above her head where the drip-drip began.
And I know that our minor crisis was as nothing compared to the many left homeless and flooded over Christmas, yet it is still really annoying.
Yet in Aberaeron you are always aware of the sheer vulnerability of the place .
The sea - never as ferocious as up-coast Aberystwyth - was nevertheless as powerful as I've witnessed, with bucking bronco breakers, white manes splayed. There was a stampede till they reared at harbour walls and threw their load of stones and silt.
The river Aeron as well was so gentle one day and the next a full-flooded torrent : a viewing bench submerged and mallards trying to seek out the reedy calmer waters.
The sea rose up and river sped and a few sandbags outside the harbour houses seemed as inept as our felt roof against the elements.
A visit to Aberystwyth the Monday before Christmas was conditional on the weather. We made of to the Arts Centre and supermarket, bit the town was impossible : it was in M25-ish gridlock with a house collapsed and diversions and cars at a stop.
Ice-caps melt, seas swell and flood defences seem totally inadequate. Our 'weather weirding' of Jet Stream low pressure systems with isobars like contours of high-peaked mountains is incessant.
The consequences are felt everywhere, yet river and coastal towns seem built from sand.
Precious places threatened by this carbon future made all the more stark by our continued reliance on opencast coal feeding power stations like Aberthaw .
My brother recently visited Aberaeron and was amazed at its transformation. He remembered it as shoddy and nondescript.
Now it's a modest and colourful jewel on our coast with Balamory houses painted alternately in different colours from pastel shades to bolder ones, yet never brazen, like the plethora of ice-creams at cafe Y Cwch Gwenyn overlooking the harbour.
One week there is time spent in a different world where, for my wife and son (who spend so much time driving normally) the pleasure is to leave their cars like workday clothes hung in a wardrobe.
It's a world of honey ice-cream, chips from the renowned New Celtic, the chance to buy a bargain in the £1.20 shop's half-price sale and a couple of pints at Tafarn Cadwgan while watching Cardiff City blow it yet again ( well, it's not all escape!).
A world of skimming stones and feeding ducks and imagining, as in childhood, that your bed's a boat afloat on the wild westerly and you're gliding past bewildered gulls and red kites high above the arcing coastline.
A world where 'mae'r Cymraeg yn byw' in chip shop and pub, cafe and Costcutter, not just as a sop or sign ; more steadfast now against other storms, the crash of coins or steady erosion of American English and its grinding slang.
ABERAERON IN THE GALES
Houses creak and strain in moorings
like boats with their yellow buoys :
an orchestra of rigging plays
high-pitched notes on the ropes.
Mint, lemon, strawberry and blackcurrant,
the windows of these ice-cream houses
are rattled and beaten storm-percussion.
Late night revellers cling to a band
of bright lights on eaves of Y Cwch Gwenyn,
before they're blown onto the street
and their drunken laughter's lost
into a gale speeding so fast
even the local policeman's notebook
is blustered inside out.
Awake in early hours , my head
is a thunder of rolled barrels
from next-door Tafarn Cadwgan
and in my dreams we are adrift
and manned by the three grandfather clocks,
old sea-dogs well past their chime.