Colder And Colder

Last month, I wore shorts for three days running. It wasn’t hot, but it was certainly warm enough for shorts on a dog-walk.

Then the weather changed.

Scraping car windows at 8 am, heating on in the house until bedtime, and digging out a heavy coat with a big wool collar to pull up around my ears. Cold wind making my cheeks feel numb outside.

Then it got colder.

Yesterday, I had to wear gloves on the dog walk, for the first time since we had the deep snow. Grey, gloomy skies and ice-cold drizzle persistent enough to need my umbrella.

I think the seasons have engaged reverse gear.

Hailstones And Brambles

There are some days when you wished you could have stayed at home, instead of having to walk your dog. Today was one of those days.

I left the house with Ollie in bright sunshine, but seeing some dark clouds in the distance, I took my umbrella. Despite the sun, the wind was still gusting, and very cold too. Fifteen minutes after arriving on Beetley Meadows, I saw a lightly-dressed dog-walker running for the exit. Opening my umbrella just in time, I was suddenly battered by pea-sized hailstones, as the temperature dropped dramatically.

Moments later, it was as dark as night, with the coulds I had spotted earlier appearing to be low enough to touch the treetops. As the hailstorm increased in intensity, I clung desperately to my umbrella to keep the worst of it from hitting my face. Then I headed for a woodland area, to try to reduce the impact of the wind-driven icy projectiles.

By the time I got into the trees for some relief, the patch pockets of my coat were full of hailstones, and I had to stand and scoop them out before they melted. By contrast, Ollie was casually walking around and sniffing, as if having his back covered in hundreds of icy white balls was completely normal.

Then it stopped, and the sun came out.

Waiting a while to make sure no more threatening clouds could be seen, I took Ollie over to Hoe Rough. Despite the thick mud over there, it became quite a pleasant walk in the sunshine, with the temperature warming up considerably from earlier.

We had been out for just about an hour when Ollie headed into a deep muddy pool. It looked to be about eight feet long by four feet wide, and had formed in a natural depression in the gound. Seeing it didn’t reach his underbelly, I followed him in, and carried on walking. But unbeknownst to me, the murky water concealed the thick tendrils of some nearby brambles. I was over two-thirds of the way through when both my heavy boots slid under the bramble creeper, stopping me in my tracks.

More than that, the sudden decelleration pitched me forward. Dropping my umbrella, I spread out both arms, in the hope of stopping myself falling face-first into the quagmire. My right hand found some firm support, in the form of a grassy hillock, but my left hand disappeared into a clump of brambles and assorted spiky plants, offering only sharp pains, and no support. As a result, I ended up kneeling in the slop, my thick dog-walking trousers saturated at the knees.

Ollie looked at me as if I was playing some kind of game that didn’t interest him, and trotted off to pee up a nearby fallen tree branch. Before I could try to stand, I had to get the thorns and spikes out of my left palm and fingers, as they were incredibly painful. I used my teeth, carefully extracting each one. I counted eleven, before I eventually stood up.

That was enough for me. Hailstones and brambles had ruined my walk, and soured my mood. I strode off in the direction of home, and when I put Ollie’s lead on, he gave me a ‘hard done by’ look that we were leaving after just over an hour.

But I didn’t care, as I had genuinely had enough.

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.

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!

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.

Video: More Heavy Snow, and Hoe Rough

Overnight last night, we had another very heavy fall of snow. This despite the BBC weatherman saying that “The East has seen the last of the snow for now”. It was bad enough for us to cancel the dog groomer appointment and reschedule for next week. No point risking a five-mile drive involving untreated roads, just to get a dog shampooed.

The morning was very sunny and bright, so I took the phone on Ollie’s walk, and headed over to Hoe Rough. Unfortunately, it was still so bright at the start of the walk, that I couldn’t see a thing on the screen, other than my own face reflected in it. So the results are rather hit and miss, but I will post them all anyway.

Ollie in some quite deep snow. Not many people had been over there, and in parts it was as deep as my boots.

A shorter clip of Ollie. He had heard something, so stopped to listen carefully.

At the time, I couldn’t see what was in the frame here, but I managed to get Ollie’s head in at the end. ๐Ÿ™‚

Ollie ‘marking’ some snow. The pool of water is left over from the recent floods, and I walked in to show how deep it is.

Where Hoe Rough opens out, you can see the extent of the virgin snow to the south.
At this point the sun went in, and didn’t appear again.

The river bend from the Hoe side, looking across to Beetley Meadows.
Walking there was heavy going, as nobody had been down there before us, and the path was covered over.

Next to the gate of the path that leads up to Holt Road. I am calling Ollie a ‘good boy’ to make him wag his tail for you. ๐Ÿ™‚
The pools of water you can see are left over from the recent flooding.

This is ‘The Dell’, where I like to sit and rest on very hot days.
What looks like a pond is in fact a deep pool of rainwater that has been there for months.

Looking north from the southern end of Hoe Rough.
Behind the wire fence is a large private woodland, part of the huge garden of a relatively small house in Hoe.

I hope you have all enjoyed my two days of snow videos. Hopefully, that will be the last of the snow this year!

Video Clips: A Very Snowy Dog Walk

When I took Ollie out today, I also took my phone, attached to the grip/holder I bought to try to keep it steady.

Ollie in the snow, avoiding the camera. And the deserted playground on Beetley Meadows.

Boots in the snow, and more views of the Meadows.

Riverside area, and boots in slush.

The River Whitewater, back to normal levels.

No picnics on these benches today, and Ollie refusing to move in shot.

My next door neighbour, and her lively dog, Henry.
Ollie was refusing to play, as usual.
(You can hear me asking him to)

In the woodland area, Ollie liked the smells.
It did look quite pretty in there, with no wind to disturb the snow.
Just after putting my phone away, I had a heavy fall, tripping on a tree root covered by the snow. I managed to bend back two fingers on my right hand, and they still hurt!

If I get the chance tomorrow, and the snow is still around, I will show you what it looks like over on Hoe Rough.

Favourite months

With gales blowing outside, and the local river overflowing its banks, I felt it was a good time to reblog this 2012 post about my favourite months. Only one reader left a like and comment at the time, so it should be new to most of you.


Tomorrow is the first of September, and I always look forward to its arrival. It heralds the end of the summer, and the start of autumn, and is one of my two favourite months, the other being March. This is mainly because March is the month of my birthday, and because it is the end of the winter. I have always enjoyed my birthday. It is personal, unlike Christmas, which is for everyone.

I have always felt that March was a good time to celebrate a birthday. The weather can be surprisingly good sometimes, so it is possible to plan a nice day out, to celebrate. It is far enough away from December, so not caught up in the festive hangover, and equally unaffected by the summer rush for outdoor activities. In England, most places of interest or traditional seaside tourist spots are still closed up, awaiting the season.


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Thinking Aloud on A Sunday

Random Thoughts.

Usually when I wake up on a Sunday, I am thinking about something specific. That wasn’t the case today, so I decided to present my collection of random thoughts instead.

It was very cold this morning. Cold enough to make me want to stay in the warmth of the bed for a while. That made me think about how much colder it used to be when I was a boy. No central heating, no double-glazed windows, and the whole house heated by one coal-fire in the living room. I often wore extra clothes to go to bed in, rather than getting undressed. The risk of waking up to frozen water pipes meant that my mum would fill saucepans and a kettle the night before. Then at least she had water to make tea, and to heat up so we could wash.

How soon we become accustomed to the luxuries of progress.

I thought I should get up, to let Ollie out into the garden. Then I started to think about how Ollie would feel if I died of Covid-19. (Or anything else for that matter.) He is so dependent on always being close to me, I feel sure he would pine badly, and be inconsolable. I concluded that it would be best if I outlived him. But then I would be the one grieving. It’s a tough call, either way.

Writing my new serial was on my mind. I am sure I am making errors in trying to write it from the perspective of a young woman who has just had a baby. I have never been a woman, had a baby, or even fathered a child. More so than anything else I have written, it feels like a challenge to get through each episode. Then I reminded myself that I have never been a serial killer either, yet I have written stories about them. Perhaps real serial kilers languishing in jail somewhere are reading my stories online, and noticing errors?

Then I couldn’t stay in bed any longer, so got up.