Two Sure Signs Of Spring

The sun is out, and it is already 12C. But I saw two other signs that confirm Spring has undeniably sprung.

Ollie is moulting. When I let him out this morning, the kitchen floor looked like that of a barber’s shop, after the barber had just completed a haircut.

Then as I waited for the kettle to boil, I saw a colourful fluttering around the bird box that is fixed to the oak tree in the back garden.

The Blue Tits are back, and taking nest materials into the wooden box through the small hole at the front.

This is an old photo that I took a couple of years ago, but it’s the same nest box.

I wonder if it could be the same pair of birds?

I hope so.

Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Fever Dream.

Whatever was ailing me yesterday seems to have gone away overnight. Though it was uncomfortably warm here last night for February. I woke up late, in the middle of a dream that had disturbed me so much, I thought it was still ‘happening’.

I had lost Ollie, and I was looking for him everywhere. But everything in the dream was wrong.

We were living on a busy main road, in an unfamiliar city. The cars outside were all 1970s American cars, and Yellow Cabs like I have seen in films. People were helping me try to find my dog, but none of them were familiar, and none were American either. The shops, banks, and other buildings all looked like they would in an English city, but the traffic, buses, and even police cars, were American types from fifty years ago.

After what seemed like hours passing in my dream, it was getting dark, and I still couldn’t find Ollie. I was becoming incredibly agitated, and worried about my dog.

Then the yapping of a neighbour’s tiny dog woke me up, leaving me thinking about yet another strange dream, and why I had experienced it.

At least Ollie was alive and well, sitting on his bed in the kitchen when I went to check on him.

Another Change In The Weather

It was only recently I was writing about ice and snow during days of very cold weather that was some of the coldest recorded for over 25 years.

Then it started to warm up. Here in Beetley, we went from -11C to +4C overnight. The snow started to melt, and it continued to get warmer.

Today it was +12C, a massive difference in temperature in such a short space of time.

Is it any wonder we English talk about the weather so much?

For me, wth that sudden change came the symptoms of a heavy cold. Fuzzy head, runny nose, streaming eyes, and endless heavy sneezing. It is almost one o’clock in the morning, and I would like to go to bed. But I can’t stop my eyes watering for long enough to lie down and rest properly.

So if my fiction serial episodes don’t appear over the weekend, or I don’t reply to comments or leave any on your posts, you will know why.

The Longest Shortest Month

It is only the 17th of february today, but to me it already feels like the 44th of February. Strange how the shortest month can seem so long, especially after arriving as it did with severe winter weather, and a reminder that Spring might still be some way off.

Valentine’s Day is halfway through the month, but to me it already feels like that happened three weeks ago.

And this year is not even a Leap Year, when that extra day on the 29th feels more like an extra week.

I once worked with someone whose birthday was the 29th of February. He made quite a lot of the fact that his birth date was only once every four years. When he was 32, his wife gave him a birthday card with ‘8 Today!’ on the front.

He loved February, for obvious reasons. I don’t like it, for my reasons.

Come on March, get here soon!

A Surprise Gift!

A parcel courier has just delivered something for me. I wasn’t expecting anything, so opened it with curiosity.

Inside is a box containing a pair of elasticated metal grips for fastening to walking shoes or boots in icy weather.

I have to conclude that a blogging friend or reader has sent them to me, after I wrote about finding it hard to walk on the ice here.

As there is no card or sender’s address, they have chosen to remain anonymous.

So I send my sincere thanks and appreciation to whoever it was that sent them. They will certainly be useful during the next spell of bad weather.

Lockdown Gown

Since the first lockdown in March 2020, I haven’t done a great deal. A couple of meals out, and a few days away at the coast when restrictions were lifted briefly.

This has meant that I don’t have to bother too much about what I wear every day. Other than taking Ollie out, and a once a week trip to the supermarket, I am usually to be found in a dressing gown. (American Translation: Bath Robe)

Not unusual for me, as I have written previously about my fondness for gown-wearing.

However, lockdowns also mean no casual visitors, nobody just ‘dropping in’, or ‘popping over’. That has allowed my gown-wearing to become the norm, unless out on the Ollie walks and shopping trips mentioned above. As soon as I get up, the gown goes on. Once back from dog-walking, I change back into a gown immediately, and spend the evening feeling relaxed and cosy. Delivery drivers and post office staff have become accustomed to me answering the door in one of the two gowns that I constantly recycle through the wash.

One is made from blue towelling, the other is a plush material in a dark red ‘Claret’ colour. Both are exceedingly comfortable to sit around in, and with the sleeves rolled up, everyday jobs like cooking and washing up can be done wearing a gown.

But all this excessive gown-wearing has had an unexpected effect.

Clothes now feel strange. Although they fit the same as before, they feel restrictive compared to the freedom of a gown. I feel bundled up in normal clothes, even very loose casual ones. I am suffering from a condition that nobody predicted might be caused by the lockdowns.

Lockdown Gown.

I am going to need more gowns!

The Kindness Of A Stranger

Last night, I went to collect a Thai meal from the local restaurant in Beetley. A very short drive, and only a twelve minute walk in better weather.

But at 6:30 pm, it was raining hard, and still very icy on the pavements. So the short drive was preferred.

The food was being prepared fresh, so I had to wait for almost twenty minutes past the order time until it was ready. When I got back to the car, someone had parked very close to me. Reversing out was going to be tricky, but in the large empty car park, it seemed easy enough to just swing the wheel to the right, and execute a large ‘loop’ so I was facing the exit.

However, the snow on that part of the car park was deeper than it looked, and my car came to a sudden halt, the front drive wheels spinning. I remembered the drill in those situations, reverse a little way, and get a bit of a run against the snow in front. As I reversed, the rear wheels stuck fast. The person who had parked so close as to make this happen appeared with his meal in its bag. He jumped in his car, and drove off easily from the harder paved area where I had been originally.

I was now alone, stranded in the rear of large empty car park, with my car refusing to move either forward or back. I had some decisions to make.

Return to the restaurant, and try to get help from the staff. I already knew they were flat-out busy, and only one of them was a man stong enough to help. And he is the head chef.

Abandon the car, walk home in the rain, and return for it tomorrow, using something under the wheels to get a grip on the snow. The food would be stone cold by the time I walked home. Warmed up Thai food is not exactly appetising.

As I pondered my options, it started to rain harder. Freezing rain mixed with sleet, pinging against the car windows

Then a car drove in, and I made my play. Running across to the car as it parked on the hard surface area, I spoke to the driver, a burly man in his late thirties. I asked if he could help by pushing my car as I tried to drive it out of the snow. Or failing that, he could drive it, and I would push. (Though I doubted my strength to be able to do that, in all honesty) He said “Hang on”. I returned to my car to wait.

He took some time, and I wondered if he had changed his mind. But then I saw that he was putting on a heavy coat, to combat the sleet and cold. He came over, took a place at the back of the car, and I tried again. It still stuck, so he suggested going in reverse again. That didn’t work, and he shrugged. “Third try, then I will have to go and get my meal, okay?” I thanked him profusely, and gave the accelerator a push.

Out it came, onto the harder area. Reluctantly it seemed, but unable to resist his final determined push. I jumped out of the car, and unable to shake his hand, due to Covid social distancing restrictions, had to settle for a geniune and heartfelt thank you, that I am sure he knew was very real.

Thanks to the kindness of a complete stranger, we were able to eat dinner before it had time to get cold.

Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Vaccine Snobbery.

I woke up today thinking about Covid-19 vaccinations. I had mine last week, and many other bloggers were reporting on those received by themselves or their loved ones.

But that wasn’t the reason I was thinking about it. It was because I encountered a dog walker recently who asked if I had already had my vaccine. When I said yes, he wanted to know what type of vaccine I had received. I told him it was the Astra-Zeneca, and he seemed pleased. He told me he had been given the Pfizer, which was the ‘better’ vaccine.

The NHS here gives you the vaccine that is available on the day. You don’t get to choose. You don’t get to debate which one you would prefer, or to argue about the statistics relating to how effective it is. I am more than grateful to have received any vaccine, free of charge, and delivered early, painlessly, and efficiently. Whether or not one drug company claims better results is of no consequence to me.

But in a country where many are somewhat obsessed with having a bigger house, or a better car, it seems that Covid-19 is supplying such people with a new version of one-upmanship.

Vaccine Snobbery.

Get over yourselves, please.

Ollie Treads Carefully

The snow we had earlier this week has not melted. It is still here, despite strong sunshine in the mornings, and the weatherman’s promise of a thaw.

Now the constant sub-zero temperatures have done their job, and it is frozen. This is a serious issue on pavements, and the well-trodden paths on the dog-walking route. There is solid ice on those, two to three inches deep, and difficult to walk on. Bad enough for me in my rubber-soled walking boots, but for Ollie it is incredibly hard for him to keep his footing on his small pads.

His legs splay apart, like Bambi in the Disney film, and he hesitates as he tries to find dry spots to place his feet into. Where it is really bad, he stands still and looks at me, only continuing when I walk away from him.

Over on Hoe Rough earlier, the snow had combined with the mud, freezing into what looks like a miniature mountain range. Walking on that presents new problems, as there is the danger of sinking deep into the areas that have not completely frozen. And the small solid ‘peaks’ are slippery enough to sprain an ankle, if you are not careful.

Ollie chose to avoid the paths completely, and walk in the deep snow instead. I was reluctant to follow him through that. It makes walking harder as I sink into the softer snow with every step, and it also conceals the deep pools that are full of water that could easily go over the top of my boots and soak the inside of them.

This all meant that our ninety-minute walk felt more like it had taken over three hours, especially in the bitingly cold wind that was blowing at me, seemingly from every angle.

We were both glad to get back home into the warm today.

The Wind, and Snow

I went outside to feed the birds this morning, and the bitingly cold wind made me catch my breath.

Back inside the house, I suddenly remembered this old nursery rhyme from my childhood. Or poem, if you prefer.

I wonder if any parents still sing this to their children in 2021?

The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will the robin do then, Poor thing?
He’ll sit in a barn,
And keep himself warm,
And hide his head under his wing, Poor thing!

The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will the swallow do then, Poor thing?
Oh, do you not know
That he’s off long ago,
To a country where he will find spring, Poor thing!

The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will the dormouse do then, Poor thing?
Roll’d up like a ball
In his nest snug and small
He’ll sleep till warm weather comes in, Poor thing!

The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will the honey-bee do then, Poor thing?
In his hive he will stay
Till the cold is away
And then he’ll come out in the spring, Poor thing!

The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will the children do then, Poor things?
When lessons are done
They will skip, jump and run,
Until they have made themselves warm, Poor things!

The North Wind
by Anonymous

The wind here is not coming from the North though. It is coming from the East. Norfolk is flat, and has no natural or man-made obstacles to interrupt the force of the wind all the way from Russia. Maybe I ought to write a new version of that poem, changing North to East?