What a New Year! We spend it in Ramsgate, where 2014 gusted in on the back of a gale. The wind created its own treadmill machine, letting walkers move their legs without covering any ground. Provided, that is, they were heading into the wind-in the opposite direction, they could be propelled faster than they’d expected. Umbrellas, turned inside-out, had their coverings ripped from their spokes.

It was only because a friend’s birthday falls on January 1 that we ventured out. Our destination was a restaurant at the very end of the harbour wall. We looked with dismay as rain sleeting down met waves surging up. We might not have made it if, providentially, other diners in a heavy car hadn’t given us a lift.

* Subscribe to Country Life and save up to 40%

Not everyone was so lucky. Several of the party looked as if a bucket of brine had been emptied over their heads. Pity the men on board the Ramsgate pilot boat that came bobbing into the harbour. We merely felt we were on the high seas, but with-a little seawater aside-none of the discomfort of being so. ‘Pure, bracing ventilation’ is how Emily Brontë might have described the boisterousness of the elements. They’re used to that sort of thing in Yorkshire, but it was quite something for Kent.

* Follow Country Life magazine on Twitter