It was icy over night, then the mist added a film of dampness to the already slippery surface. It was unpleasant even walking the few yards to the car, which was comprehensively iced.
It stayed misty all day, which would have been atmospheric if I had been in a place with hills and trees but which was merely depressing in the middle of town.
Yesterday had been bright and light when I left the shop. Tonight was dull and grey. However, it wasn’t slippery, so it wasn’t all bad. That is how we are at the moment, with slow progress to Spring. We will have a couple of days of higher temperatures and lighter nights, then it will drop back for a few days. I suppose that’s what makes me appreciate the good days.
So far it has been a mild winter, and, as usual, I keep having to remind myself that there is plenty of scope for bad weather in February (which is often a bad month) and even March. Being realistic, it doesn’t take much to close us down. A day of snow will cause havoc in the UK, whereas Norway or Canada would look at it and shrug it off.
I think poets must thrive on misery, because I found myself thinking creative thoughts on the way home in the car. This could be the end of the poetry drought, and about time too – there are a lot of deadlines coming up. I had 42 poems published last year and have had two accepted so far this year. I’m not going to judge myself solely by numbers but I would like to be in that area again so I can’t afford to waste too many chances.
I’m, sticking with my theme for photographs – another postcard and another parcel. variety is over-rated.
The street is still frozen and Julia went to work by bus today. That was an unsatisfactory start to the day as I don’t like her using public transport at the moment. On the other hand, I don’t want to be out on the roads if they are still icy. I’m getting old. She was the one who suggested it so I don’t feel too bad. She said there was only one other passenger on the bus yesterday as everyone seemed to have decided to work from home.
Things are going well on the poetry side of things with two acceptances in the last four days. My current numbers are 21 submissions – eleven acceptances, ten rejections. This is in danger of making me smug and complacent. And we all know what comes just after a surge of acceptances, so I’m trying to stay balanced and prepare for the inevitable flood of rejections that are bound to come soon.
My planned submissions for the next couple of weeks include four places which have been turning me down for years so I suspect the figures will be more balanced in a month or so.
Apart from that, the morning is rather flat and I can’t concentrate. I’m here, I’m well rested and my eyes are open, but as soon as I start to type I slow down, and down… It’s like having a head stuffed with cotton wool. The view from the window, was all snow and blue sky yesterday, with highlights of red and green and a certain degree of sparkle. It is now back is back to a generic Midlands winter scene – grey sky and muted colours in various shades of sludge and grime. As I sit here it’s hard to believe that Sherwood Forest is only a few miles away over the horizon and that Spring is only just over a month away.
That feels better. Sometimes I just need a simple description of my day to set things right. It’s a case of blogging as therapy. A lot of writing is therapy when you look at it. In fact one of the things editors warn against in both prose and poetry, is sending in pieces which are really just the author writing out their problems.
I’d better go and explore the therapeutic nature of shredding and washing up now, because the day soon goes and I don’t want Julia to think I’ve been sitting down staring into space all morning. I have been, but I’m hoping to conceal the fact. I might even move some dust about. That always looks like a frenzy of housework has happened.
Snowdrops at Ruddington
The pictures are from previous years, just to give an idea of conditions. The ice in the street is worse than the picture and the snowdrops are actually pushing through snow.
Julia went to work by bus this morning. I felt so guilty that I got up at 6.30 to make sure her breakfast was ready when she got down. It was only tea, cereal and toast, so hardly the most onerous of breakfast.
We are back on the Weetabix so it needs some time to soak. I don’t like Weetabix because it’s often crunchy due to lack of time in the mornings. However, Julia doesn’t like Bran Flakes, my weapon of choice in the war for fibre and regularity, so we alternate – each one of us gritting our teeth and eating cereal we don’t like to accommodate the other. I suppose that’s what marriage is all about at times. When we retire I think I will make porridge every morning. We both like that. We could, I suppose, have two boxes open but I regard this as vain and wasteful. I was brought up to be modest and frugal.
She left me with a lecture about doing housework while she’s out. Housework? And ruin a perfectly good writing day?
I’ve had a go at the washing up and I have plans afoot for cooking tea – I think I’ll try a vegetarian version of last week’s casserole for tonight and make chickpea and sweet potato curry for tomorrow, In a minute I will do some shredding. I can do that without moving from my chair.
I’ve just realised that you are probably wondering why Julia had to travel by bus. WE had snow at the weekend, and in England that means we grind to a halt. We had snow on Saturday but it fell early enough for the daytime temperatures to melt it. We had snow yesterday, but it started inn the afternoon and froze overnight. That means that the street we live on is, based on previous experience (32 winters) is a touch slippery and the slope down to the main road holds all sorts of possibilities. I’m getting more cautious on the roads as I grow older, and as my car insurance premiums increase. If it doesn’t melt today, it’s likely that we will have a surface like a skating rink for the next week. I will review the situation tomorrow.
At the moment the sun is out, next door’s conifer has turned green and the roof of the house below us on the hill is starting to show black slates through the snow. I’m hopeful.
It’s not bad weather, it’s bad preparation. When you only have a couple of snowy days a year it’s hardly worth the effort and expense of preparing for snow.
Just before starting work I had a call on the landline – this is usually the sign of a scammer. It turned out to be a really pleasant Indian gentleman in a call centre. Apparently, all this working from home is playing havoc with broad band availability and our router has been sending out messages. Could I switch my computer on so that he could check the situation?
Yes, I said, as soon as he gave me his identity code. Identity code? Yes, the one supplied by the service provider so I knew callers weren’t trying to scam me.. Ah, he said, he wasn’t actually from the service provider, he was acting on their behalf. Well, I said, it’s unfortunate that they hadn’t given him the code. If he rang them for it, I’d be happy to talk to him further as soon as he got back to me with it.
I actually feel better than I do after I have swearing at a scammer. It’s so much nicer to be polite, waste their time and then disappoint them.
It snowed overnight. The temperature was minus 3.5 and the roads were tricky because with many people staying at home there weren’t enough cars to clear the slush.
Number Two son rang to check that his elderly parents were OK. I’m not sure if I’m pleased he’s worried about us, or whether I’m annoyed about becoming old.
Fortunately things were better by the time I went home, and the journey was quicker than usual due to the lack of cars. Nothing is ever completely bad. It got worse when I arrived at Sainsbury’s as the car park was not cleared and several cars appeared to have been abandoned rather than parked. Two of the “abandoned” cars were put there while I was inside, so it was purely bad driving – one of them being parked lengthwise across three disabled spaces.
Often it isn’t the weather, it’s idiots in cars that cause the problem. Can’t say too much after yesterday’s exploit, but the less cars we have on the road the fewer problems we will have. Unfortunately that also means we have more slush and, consequently, more problems. It’s a tricky balance.
It was still below zero when I arrived home and I expect that the side roads will be icily unpleasant again in the morning.
I think that’s enough about snow for now.
We seem to be going quite fast in the clip below, but I promise you we weren’t.
OK, you’ll have to take my word for it because, as usual, we didn’t get the photograph.
We went for a look at Budby Flash, because we wanted to see birds but didn’t want to walk. As we parked, Julia pointed at one of the feeders, where a Great Spotted Woodpecker was feeding. The photos are a bit hazy because we took pictures through the windscreen rather than risk scaring it off.
Great Spotted Woodpecker – Budby Flash
When we did eventually get out of the car it flew off, as expected.
The feeders were full of tits with the odd robin, chaffinch and dunnock having a go. The robins, which normally pose so well, were too busy chasing each other, resulting in a lack of photographs. I got one poor shot of a coal tit but it was mainly a day for blue and great tits, with a visit from some long-tailed tits (who did their best to hide their faces).
The view west from the bridge at Budby Flash
View from the bridge at
Ice on Budby Flash
While I was taking photos of the feeders Julia stalked round the trees that overhang the water by the bridge. A cry of surprise interrupted my photography and I turned just in time to see the eastern end of a westbound kingfisher. It managed to find a spot just round the corner, where it was still close, but hidden. I did think I’d spotted it later, but it was just a discarded beer can when I zoomed in.
The day started with a visit to the farm – we are still tidying up as we had an enforced rest over Christmas due to my infection – and continued with a visit to Men in Sheds. They made us tea and offered to share their Lincolnshire sausages. We declined the offer, but donated half a dozen pullet eggs from the bantams, who seem to have sprung into laying action while we’ve been away.
Adjusting the lathe
On the way home we dropped in to feed the ducks at Rufford Abbey, which was the fun part of the day, and pottered home as the light faded. That was where we got our big surprise.
Julia opened her emails and was rendered speechless.
It’s quite strange seeing Julia speechless. she impersonates a goldfish and emits tiny mewing sounds.
I waited patiently, and after she recovered the power of speech she read the email to me.
When I recovered the power of speech she told me off for using bad language.
It seems that one of the teachers who has been visiting the farm has arranged to rent land on the farm to start a group using horticulture and animals for therapy. Sounds vaguely familiar. Also seems like it must have been organised during the time we were being thrown out.
What really stopped us speaking though, were the words “As I understand it, the timing was right for change for all of us”. The timing, as you may recall from previous posts, was not right for us, but was forced on us. However, it seems to be a growing belief within the farmer that he did us a favour as we were working hard and not making a living from the project. That, of course, makes him feel better at throwing the group out. It also highlights the difference in our approaches, as we don’t need a lot of money if we’re doing something worthwhile.
Anyway, now I have recovered the power of speech I’m not going to waste it.
The lake at Rufford was still partly frozen, providing hard standing for a variety of birds. We had bird food with us and, as you can see from the video it inspired some enthusiastic feeding. The light was fading, so we restricted ourselves to the lakeside. I did try a couple of photos of squirrels under the trees but the light was so bad that camera shake rendered them useless.
I’m currently trying to improve my bird identification skills so I had a good look at the gulls and was pleased to find two that were different from the mass of Black Headed Gulls. They were both immature birds so they have lots of brown feathers and their beaks and feet are different colours from the mature adults. I took plenty of photographs and checked them against pictures on a gull ID website. Yes, there are such things.
immature Common gull
Black Headed gul
Immature Herring Gul
One of the gulls seems to be an immature Common Gull. As you may gather from the name, it isn’t a rare gull. The other is an immature Herring Gull. They are even commoner than Common Gulls. It would have been nice to have spotted a rare gull but at least I managed to see them amongst all the others.