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?

From August To October Overnight

Yesterday was unusually warm here in Beetley. It was very sunny, and that sunshine had some heat in it too. By late afternoon it was 24 C (75 F) and the heat hung on until late last night. By the time it got to 11 pm, we had to get a fan running in the living room, as it was uncomfortably humid. During the night, it was hard to get any sleep under the duvet, and I kept waking up on and off, until I gave up at 6:30 am and got up.

It felt more like August, than May.

Then this morning, the heat has gone. Strong winds are moving the tree branches and plants in the garden, and the temperature at best will be 10 C (50 F). There is also the possibility of very heavy showers later this afternoon.

It feels more like late October, than May.

A drop of 25 degrees (F) in less than twenty-four hours.

Is it any wonder that I write so many blog posts about weather? 🙂

Walking In The Wind

Not for the first time on this blog, I am writing about dog-walking in high winds. According to the weather reports, we have had wind speeds of 50-60 mph here today. Listening to that wind battering the house, I would have thought those numbers might be higher. But at least as the speed increased, the rain-clouds were blown away.

Leaves missed in last year’s clear-up have discovered new life. They are blowing around like small tornadoes, filling any corner or gap they can find, and rustling like a natural musical instrument as they circle. Tree branches small and large are clattering onto the flat roofs and paved areas, and even the tight hedges are creaking and bending in the gusts.The high chimney that serves the wood-burner is making ominous ‘clicking’ sounds, as it resists, and all TV channels are constantly interrupted when the outside aerial gets the full force.

But Ollie still has to go out. So, on with my biggest coat, fake-fur collar turned up against the blow. At least there is no need to struggle with an umbrella today, and probably no point in trying anyway. Closing the side gate as we leave, it feels as if some giant hand is trying to stop me puling it shut. As I watch wheelie-bins rolling around opposite the house, I am not excited by the prospect of two hours or more outside. But birthday or not, it must be done. And Ollie is oblivious to weather, whatever the conditions.

Over at Beetley Meadows, the wind hit my chest like a well-placed punch from an experienced boxer. As I struggled with my gloves after taking off Ollie’s lead, he scampered off as if it was just a mild Spring day. I could hear twigs falling through the branches, and some ominous creaking of the thinner trees, as their roots struggled to combat the force of the gales. But like anything, you get used to it. After forty minutes, I headed off over to the wilder expanses of Hoe Rough, where Ollie is always extra keen to go exploring. On the main path, the strength of the gusts was enough to make breathing difficult, so I diverted to the sides, closer to the river.

After two hours, I considered my duty done, and I decided to head for home. As I walked back with Ollie, I had time to reflect on the timeless power of nature.

And how insignificant we are, in the face of that.

Ollie and his Rumbling Tummy

As Ollie gets older, he appears to want to eat more. Less satisfied with his usual meal and biscuits, he is constantly on the lookout for extra food, especially in the winter. It is hard not to give in to his plaintive stares, and the high-speed wagging of his stumpy tail. But we resist. He gets plenty to eat, and has maintained the same weight for over five years now. From experience of my Mum overfeeding her many dogs, I know that it just isn’t good for them. But Ollie doesn’t agree of course, and has taken to stalking us whenever we are eating anything.

He knows he is not allowed to come into the dining area when we are sat at the table. But he now gets as close as he feels he can, lying in the small hallway, looking sorry for himself as we eat.

Recently, he has started to get some strange noises in his belly. They sound like anything from a washing machine filling up, to the distant rumbling of an imminent storm. This usually happens first thing in the morning, and it seems to worry him. His tail uncurls, and he seeks attention in the form of strokes and cuddles, trying to look around at his own belly, as it squeaks and groans. We can hear it quite loudly, so with his canine capacity for hearing, it must sound like an express train arriving.

The vet was consulted during a recent annual booster jab, and said it was almost certainly ‘just wind’. As long as he was going to the toilet normally, and eating as well as he is, there should be nothing to get worried about. He asked about his food, and suggested it might be a recent change to organic pellets that was giving him more fibre in his diet. Yet another aspect of our dog getting older, it would seem.

But when Ollie is standing next to me, a sad look on his face, tail down, and those swirling sounds coming from his belly, it makes me feel bad.
I just wish he could understand me when I tell him not to worry.

Blizzards in Beetley

After two days of almost constant rain and sleet, I awoke this morning to heavy snow falling. The weather forecasters had got their predictions right. But they normally do, when the weather is bad. Snow was arriving from the north, sweeping down the east coast of England driven by strong winds.

The flakes were impressively large, and they were not fluttering down in a picturesque fashion. Instead, they dived earthward at a forty-five degree angle, blotting out what little daylight still existed, and replacing it with their swirling formations. Yet it did not appear to be settling. Perhaps the ground was too wet, still sodden with the previous icy rain. A quick inspection of our cars parked in the driveway showed that it was also not settling on them, nor on the roofs of nearby houses.

After around an hour, it suddenly stopped. A watery sun emerged, and we had some brightness for a while. But the blizzard was only resting somewhere, and soon returned with a vengeance. When the time for Ollie’s walk arrived, I wrapped up well, put on my heaviest boots and waterproof coat, and reluctantly headed over to Beetley Meadows. The icy wind accompanying the snow soon had me raising the hood on my coat, and even though I was sensibly wearing good gloves, I could feel the cold in my hands instantly.

As is his habit, Ollie was unconcerned. Despite a reasonable amount of snow sticking to his back and making him appear to be wearing a small white coat, he was running around as if nothing out of the ordinary was occurring. Forty minutes later, it stopped snowing again. There were few other dog walkers braving the elements today, but Ollie was able to check out an excitable young Labrador. He looked disappointed at the absence of his regular doggy pals, so I took him into the small woodland area, in search of squirrels.

Then the blizzard returned once again. In the woods, it was less bothersome, as the trees kept the worst off of us. Ollie was frustrated by one squirrel that had climbed just out of reach onto a low branch, but was soon diverted by a plump pheasant that he found hiding under some thick brambles. As our excursion reached the two-hour mark, I decided enough was enough, and we returned home to the warmth of the house. The snow persisted for some time, before turning back into torrential icy rain, that carried on until midnight.

More snow is forecast for tomorrow.
In case you hadn’t realised, I really don’t like snow.

A winter walk in June

When weather forecasters predict bad weather, they usually get it right. Today was no exception.
The TV weather girl said that we could expect ‘heavy and squally showers, with strong winds’ in this area. By midday, it was pouring down, and the temperature some 7 degrees C lower than yesterday too.

I couldn’t put off taking Ollie out for too long, and by 1:30 it was raining even harder. I had to get out my best waterproof coat and trousers, and also put on the heavy boots once again. As I left the house with Ollie, my hood was blown off my head, and had to be secured by pulling the toggles uncomfortably tight. I had decided to leave the umbrella at home, rather than struggle with it in a wind that was bending trees, and breaking off small branches.

Ollie was oblivious of course. Watching him run around Beetley Meadows, you might well have thought it was a balmy summer afternoon. He ignored the freezing rain, which sometimes contained sleet, and trotted around happily, despite his fur being soaked through.

Even with my best waterproofs, the rain was soon getting in, and my T-shirt was wet and uncomfortable. I was cursing myself for forgetting to wear my waterproof gloves, as my hands were freezing cold too.
I had to struggle around with my hands in the damp pockets of my coat, anything to get them out of the chill wind. After just under two hours of this miserable walk, I called it a day, and headed for home. After getting out of the damp clothes, pleased to be back inside, I checked the calendar.

Sure enough, it was the 6th of June, not the end of November. Not far off of midsummer’s day, I considered, with an ironic smile. But I stayed positive of course. The farmers need this rain.


Glum and Glummer

(Checking through my blog, I see that I published an almost identical post around the same time in 2015. Perhaps I should have expected this.)

Tomorrow is the first of June. Flaming June, herald of the long summer to come. Lazy days spent in the garden, or exploring the countryside. Long evenings of warmth and relaxation in the open air.

Well, maybe somewhere. But not here.

Our version of this idyllic scene is to be experiencing some of the worst weather we have seen this year. Woken up in the early hours by gale-force winds driving torrential rain against the house, it took a very long time to get back to sleep. Twigs and small branches clattered to the ground, unlocked gates were slamming in nearby houses, and the constant howl of the wind sounded like something from a Norse legend.

As a consequence, I slept late. After emerging into the gloom that is passing for daylight, I was dismayed to discover a leak in the kitchen roof, dripping a small amount of water onto the floor. This is coming from where the extended section meets the main wall of the house. It was all redone not that long ago, so hopefully the guarantee will still be in effect. That won’t cover the inconvenience though, not to mention the plummeting of my mood at the same time.

I need to get up there and inspect the damage, before I contact the roofing company. Trouble is, I am reluctant to do so in the continuing high winds and heavy rain, especially adding vertigo into the mix. I will have to hope for a let-up in the weather later today, before attempting that.

After a couple of re-posts, followed by three fiction pieces, I am once again back to reporting the weather. What a joyful life I lead. I have already had enough of 2016. I would like to fast-forward to 2017 immediately, and see what that has to offer.

An Easter visit

I would like to be writing about the visit of a friend, or family member. Perhaps someone at a loose end, deciding to drive up to Beetley and join us for the last day of the long weekend. But our visitor is not a person, it is a storm. It is a public holiday in England, so naturally the weather is enjoying spoiling any potential fun or enjoyment.

With the new trend of naming weather fronts, we have Storm Katie lashing the southern half of the UK, and once again making us realise the full force of Mother Nature. I think that these names are not frightening enough. Nobody expects Storm Katie to be anything that bad. Now Storm Thor, or Storm Damien, that would give us a real indication of what to expect. Nonetheless, Katie is doing her worst. Winds in excess of 100 miles an hour, torrential rain, and dark skies. Our small house feels like being on the bridge of a ship in the Atlantic, as water lashes against the windows, and the winds buffet the walls and the chimney.

The garden is feeling the force. Twigs and small branches are flung down from the oaks, shrubs and bushes bend backwards, and the last uncollected leaves of autumn swirl around, sounding like the crackling flames of a fire. Outside, the village is quiet. No walkers, no children playing, and no seasonal jobs being tackled. Traffic is absent, as nobody wants to venture out into the force of Katie, in the more exposed countryside nearby. Further afield, flights are cancelled, trains and roads disrupted, and coastal communities are receiving yet another battering.

Of course, Ollie doesn’t care about Storm Katie. To him, it’s just another day in Beetley. So later on, I will don protective garb, and struggle out with my canine companion for our long walk around the local fields and woods. Thanks, Katie. I could have done without you today.

Daffodils for Christmas

The extremes of weather continue to take turns over the UK. Today’s temperatures in the south and east are around 17 C. This is a warmth generally reserved for late spring, and unheard of in December. Returning from yesterday’s walk, I found two insect bites on my head. These midges should not be around at this time of year, but have recently appeared in swarms once again, close to the riverbank.

Spring flowers and bulbs are popping up all over the place, and there are still leaves on the branches of confused trees and shrubs. With no frost in the south so far, the mud refuses to harden, and is thicker and slipperier than ever. Recent rains have swollen the local streams, which are trying hard to flow against the dense growth of reeds and weeds that would normally have died off by this time. Squirrels that should be hibernating are still jumping around in the branches of the trees, and rabbits can be seen on a daily basis.

This seasonal confusion continues because of a wind change, according to our always knowledgeable weather pundits. The wind from North Africa is arriving in the south, via a short stop in the Azores. It has its benefits of course. No heating required in these temperatures, and walking Ollie is less of a trial, when you feel warm after a few minutes. The wood burner is temporarily redundant, and despite any real improvement in the light, driving is a lot easier when there is no ice to have to deal with.

But it doesn’t feel right, all the same. We shouldn’t have daffodils at Christmas.

The Acorn Season

Living with two large oak trees dominating the house has both benefits, and drawbacks. The first year we lived here, I wrote about the glut of acorns, which fell in such quantities, that they could cover your shoes as you walked. This year, there has been little sign of acorns. I have no idea what this means in respect of the biology of the trees, but suspect it has much to do with unseasonal weather conditions, earlier this year.

The problem with acorns is that nothing eats them, except pigs. EU farming policy forbids feeding them to accredited pig herds, so I can’t even give them away, for use as nutritious fodder. And contrary to popular belief, squirrels do not eat them. They prefer pine nuts, apparently. Therefore, I am pleased not to have so many of these to deal with this season, as their collection is rather tedious.

One thing we are never short of is a huge amount of fallen leaves. Considering how many have already hit the ground, and the seemingly endless circle of clearing them up, and getting them removed, I notice that the oak trees are still full of brown leaves, waiting to make the descent onto the existing piles. The beech hedge adds to this job, as it sheds its smaller leaves relentlessly too. I had thought to compost them at first, but I would need too large a space, to store them for the necessary amount of time. So, they are removed in special bins, for a fee, by the local authority. The recent high winds have at least stacked them into neat banks and piles, so armed with my oversized ‘plastic hands’, clearing away is a fast process.

It is frustrating, nonetheless. As fast as you shift them, it seems that another pile has appeared behind you, as if by magic. Even an energetic bout of clearing, leaving the area leaf-free, has little satisfaction as a reward. Go to bed, wake up the next morning, and they are all back again, like something from a Stephen King novel. Autumn seems to be getting longer, as I grow older. I started on the leaves in late September, and it is now almost Christmas.

I have a feeling that I will still be picking them up in 2016.