Friday, January 22, 2010

Just a Couple of Days!

Some of you know that "Just a Couple of Days" is the title of Tony Vigorito's first book, but today I'm thinking of it in a different way.  Here's what a difference a couple of days can make to the view from our living room! 

This first picture was taken on Wednesday of this week.  We had a heavy, wet snowfall overnight and this is what we woke up to.  The bamboo is doing an octopus imitation.  This in turn exposes the dark woods on our southern bank.  It really shows you how dark it is under the beastly laurels.

Now here's the view today.  It's taken from almost the same spot.  As you can see, the bamboo recovered - helped by me bashing the snow off with my walking stick.  It has been raining on and off for two days and it's very grey and foggy.

I worked down at Scrappies yesterday.  It's the first time anyone has opened the store since before Christmas.  Irene is finding it difficult to get in from Clun in the van because of all the snow and ice. We had a few customers and it was very cold.  I lost the will to live about 3:30 and was home by 4:30.  It took most of the night for my body to warm up, in spite of going up the drive to Pam and Dave's for a lovely duck dinner.

Today, I saw our first heron in the garden.  It's a Great Grey Heron, very similar to the Great Blue of the US.  We saw its footprints in the snow at the weekend and people have been seeing it further up the valley along the stream, but it's a bit odd for it to be at our house where access to the stream is more difficult for such a bird.  I'm quite sure it's not after anything in our pond - there's still a lot of ice in it, no fish and probably no frogs or newts.  Unfortunately, it saw me as I came to the window and took off, so John didn't see it.  He's been lurking by the windows all day in the hopes that it will come back again!

On Monday we had a cock pheasant on that table on the patio.  When it saw John coming it didn't fly away - it calmly jumped off the table and walked towards the door as if it knew he had food.  Mr. Pheasant seemed to like the peanuts we threw out for him, but we haven't seen him since.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Britain Comes to a Standstill

I expect you've all heard about the "big freeze" we're having here in the UK.  Our American and Canadian friends will be laughing their heads off.  So far we've had about 6" of snow and the temperature hasn't dipped below -10C (23F) here.  Some places have had more snow and some are colder, but it's still nothing compared to what we experienced in North America.

However, we're not prepared for it here.  This cold snap has gone on for about 3-4 weeks and promises to last at least till the end of next week.  Grit and salt supplies are running out, and we don't have the snow ploughs to cope with all the snow.  Farmers are coming out with tractors and they're using front-loaders to shift the snow off the roads.  The big worry is that the snow melts a bit during the day and then freezes into "black ice" at night.  With no snow tires and very little experience in driving in icey conditions people are getting into horrible jams.  Lorries are jack-knifing up and down the country, cars are ending up in ditches, the railways are having signalling and points trouble and they can't keep the airport runways clear.

Scrappies is closed.  Their toilet has frozen and there is no heat in the shop, so it's too cold to shop or work there.  Our heating packed up overnight on Monday night when the condensation overflow pipe froze up and water backed up to the boiler.  Fortunately, we guessed that might be a problem and poured hot water all over the outside pipes.  We got it thawed out and the boiler started working again.  We breathed a big sigh of relief because one of our neighbours has no heat and the service people can't get to them till next week!!!!!

John and I are staying in today.   Our road has been ploughed, but we're not sure we can make it up the driveway!  Tomorrow we'll walk down to the market and get supplies.  We had a quick foray into the garden to feed the birds and take pictures and now we're settled inside with glasses of port.  I've posted some of my pictures on my Peel Wyke site and a couple here to show you what it looks like.

Saturday, January 02, 2010


It's 2010 already!  Today John turned 65 - can you believe it? 
And on Monday we have our 41st wedding anniversary!

We hope all our friends have had a good holiday - we're sorry we're so tardy in sending out greetings but December absolutely flew by and we don't really know where it went.  We're determined to catch up on letters and e-mails in the New Year.

When John got back from Montreal, I had several meetings to go to and we only had a few days to prepare before we were off on our narrow boat for my birthday trip.  This turned out to be more of an adventure than we bargained for.  You can read all about it by clicking here.  The final disaster came when we got stuck in the ice and had to be rescued by our brother-in-law, John!  Don't get me wrong, we enjoyed most of it - it was just the ice and cold weather that put a damper on things.

A few more days went by as we did washing and shopping and prepared to go to Joy and John's for Christmas.  Christmas day was lovely - a quiet, warm family affair with lots of wonderful things to eat and drink.  Strefford Hall Farm did us proud with a multi-bird roast (goose, stuffed with chicken, stuffed with pheasant and all lined with sausage!) and the whole dinner was delicious and cooked to perfection.

Boxing Day saw us out on our traditional walk.  It was cold, but that added to the pleasure as it made the ground firm underfoot.  The sun shone, there were lots of people out with lovely dogs and the mince-pies came as a welcome break halfway round the walk!

We managed to get the boat home on the Sunday.  And it's a good job we did since it has been cold and icy ever since.  In spite of our 4-wheel drive and ABS breaks we have been slithering and sliding down the driveway with very little, if any, control.  This is a picture I've just taken from my study window.   If you look very carefully, you can see little black dots in the central field - that's people sledding!  You can click on the picture to enlarge it, if you want to.