Sunday, 28 November 2010

A wintery Adventure

As we set out on our daily walk with our dogs we had no idea the adventures waiting for us. It was very cold and overcast, and I knew we were in for a downpour. So I had decided to take a more sheltered path, but when I finished locking the gates I had to change my mind. troy was looking over the sea wall and was smiling. The tide was right out, the furtherest we had seen it out since our arrival nearly a month ago.
So without another thought we strode off down the beach and headed in an easterly direction. Of course we had to get right down to where the sea was, which took us a fair way from the sea wall.

So much space for the dogs to run, in and out of the shallow waters, round and round the sand and silt. They were loving it.
We could explore a whole new world, as this uncovered the mud flats and muscle beds. revealing seaweeds and lug worms. It is so different from the pebbles and shells we normaly traverse across. A bit squealky in places, so you have to be careful not to sink.

This little village was amidst a huge muscle island we found on one of the beaches. It looked very structured to us as we surveyed the layout. It reminded Troy of the fairy houses we have found nestled in moss covered tree trunks in forests we have wandered through. One piece looks a bit like a boot to me!

This pitcure does not do justice to the size of this muscle bed, this is the one the village was found on. The figure to the far left is Troy striding out across the island.
Yes those are snowflakes you can see, as we were in the midst of a blizzard as we continued on our way.

As you can see from Talin here, it was a tad blowy, but he didn't seem to mind too much.

Willow on the other hand had a more pressing engagement. She had found a tyre embedded in the sand, but was going to have a good go at getting it free to play with.
It proved to be stuck well and truly in the mud!

As we headed for the sea wall, having satisfied our curiosity enough with the new land we had discovered. I thought I had better get some snaps of how much snow we had. It looks more like a sugar frosting coating, glimmering.

This sign shows which way the wind was blowing the snow across the sea and land.

To shield us from the wind, we walked back along the path between the sea wall and the oyster farm. The puddles were frozen, so Troy gently stepped across one to find out how frozen it was. Talin stayed back and just sniffed the ice. It looks like Troy is walking towards a crocodile, from the shape the snow had made in front of him.

Even though this plant is frozen into this puddle at least it will still get water, as they are not frozen solid.

I have tried to capture the snow on these grasses, but in reality they looked more glorious than this. There were tiny snowflakes bunched together on the heads and leaves of the grasses, glistening in the daylight.

This was a happy but disappointed boy at this moment. Happy that it had snowed, but disappointed that there was not enough to make a snowball with.

Even the covering on these wooden planks would not have been enough to muster a ball to thow. Never mind it is only the first snow of the season, and who could hope for more. At least we were out in it when it happened and could exclaim our delight in the change of scenery.

Back on the site and we came across these mushrooms glowing under the heavy snow fall they had experienced. Well at least someone got a lot of snow here.

I hope you have enjoyed our adventures which only took an hour of our time and gave us much to talk about and marvel at. I look forward to more artic weather bringing heaps of snow over the next month. I would like it to just stay at bay until after next weekend, as I am doing a christmas fair and want as many people to be able to get there as possible. Not just for me but for all those who are selling their wares there.
As I finish this post tonight the north wind has whipped up and is bringing in that cold howling wind, which makes you glad you are tucked up inside with a warm blanket.
Sweet dreams

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Next Chapter

Where to start? I suppose it should be from where I finished off. That would be February when I last blogged, such a long time ago now that such a lot has happened.
We stayed at Reculver until the beginning of April enjoying the sea and all the delights it washed up on to the shores. Slowly the weather warmed and we started to see the bulbs growing and blooming before we travelled on from the coast to inland.
Due to lack of funds we could not go too far so only went into and around the Canterbury area. Mostly we were wild camping finding woods to hold up for a few days. It was a glorious time as spring slowly started to fade into summer and the days got longer giving us more natural light to work by. We even took to using candles to read by as the light began to fade before heading for our beds at the end of a day.
Troy enjoyed this time walking in the woods, collecting and learning about the natural habit and all the flora and fauna we came across. His reading improved to such an extent he read Harry Potter and the Philosphers Stone in just a week, a real achievement for him.
As summer slipped her shoes off to walk barefoot across the land we found ourselves yearning for company, so decided to visit the local campsite in Canterbury for some well earned R and R. We often stop by to say hello to friends we have made, who like us pitch up every now and then. For us it means we can have a bit of electricity, the use of the computer and DVD player, a well earned shower and the use of a washing machine. It can get tiresome washing by hand, but I would not change my life for anything as I have so much more freedom these days.
Whilst at the site my faithful kettle decided it had had enough and the lid lost its screw and the spout blew it top. I have to say I felt sorry for it as it has brewed many a cup of tea, coffee and soup for me over the past six years, so it must have been in need of a rest. Well I managed to fix it up to boil until another could be purchased. Not that I would have gone without as a saucepan would easily boil up water without much fuss, but a kettle is such a delightful thing and lets you know when it has done it's job. So now I am now the proud owner of a hand painted enamel kettle with a ginger tom playing with a ball of wool. This was painted by Martin Leman, who at the time of purchase I knew nothing about, who has painted several pictures of cats in many guises.

I was over the moon when I received it as it fits right in to our motorhome, and nestled on the stove looked as though it had been there all its life. I look forward to years of happy boiling.

Our dogs have grown, and I am now the proud owner of an elegent collie lurcher and a very small staff who get on like a house on fire. I am very lucky with both as they are good natured although Talin, the lurcher does bark a lot and very loud at that. So he tends to frighten people, which is no bad thing when you live in a van and wild camp alot. They both love to be out of doors and can't wait to get out for a long run every day, which keeps both Troy and I fit.

Here's Troy in the middle of the University of Kent's Labyrinth. We have walked this many times as the dogs hare around across the open field in front of it. As you look out across you can see Canterbury Cathedral towering over the city. We have found many labyrinths on our travels across the British Isles, most of which follow this basic design. I like the feel of finding oneself as you meander round the twists and turns until you reach the centre or the core of your very being.

During one of our stays on the Canterbury Campsite we encountered this very unusual motorhome. Yes it is a plane, and the gentleman who owned it had converted it into a caravan of sorts. A bit cramped for my liking but he was happy with his lot, and it caused quite a lot of interest from other campers during it's stay on the site. I hasten to add he towed it behind his car, and did not drive it away. Though Troy and I thought it would be funny to see him take off from the site and fly it out.

Well summer danced her way through until she met up with autum and as the Harvest moon approached we suddenly started to see an abundance of mushroom and toadstools appear. As is our want we started to look out for them as they gathered in groups around fallen trees and leaves. We had to be careful not to step inside a fairy ring in case we were whisked off to fairy land. Anyway as the days passed drawing nearer to the full moon we realised they were gathering for their harvest ball, to celebrate and give thanks for their crops they had gathered ready for the winter. Pretty much like we use to do when we did not rely on the super markets to do our harvesting for us. It was lovely to watch as they grew and multiplied until after the full moon when suddenly they were gone, so our theory was right they were here just for the festival and then moved on to the next place and next party.
Well now autum has started to slide away making way for winter to don his cloak and shroud us in cold and dark days and nights. We are drawn inside early now and as the light begins to fade earlier and earlier. We are making the most of the daytime though regardless of the weather, as the dogs still need to stretch their legs and run as far as they can. We find oursleves back at Reculver beside the north sea, which throws up new delights each day. So much beach combing to be done and new finds along the shores, we relish this time and await the snow as the next full moon is upon us. Although as I write this tonight she is hidden from view by the blanket of cloud which blots out the light she would be shinning down on us from on high.
I wish you all a happy time and look forward to reading your comments, although I hope not to receive some of the more unpleasant ones I came across on my last blog.
So for now I bid you farewell and sweet dreams.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Feel of Spring

Today had a definite spring feel to it, which I'm sure most of you will think is strange as spring does not offically start until March. I, on the other hand, feel that spring really begins around the festival of Imbolc. This is the time the earth starts to warm up and buds appear, very small and indistinct but there all the same. The through the rest of the month of February we see more signs, with snowdrops appearing and Fieldfare's gathering getting ready for their flight back to Poland as the weather warms.
The recent snow had put a halt to the feeling spring was on her way. However, the sun was shinning, giving a warm glow to the earth and meking me feel light. There were dark clouds lurking in the skies above, threatening to put a dampener on things, but this did not deter my bright and breezy mood. I was relishing in the feeling, as yesterday I found myself in a bit of a slump. I had no energy, even my reserves were running on low. I was glad I had no jobs to do, except walk the dogs. I'm afraid they only got a romp around the site, even the thought of spoils on the beach did not fill me with enthusiasm. So I had spent the day doing nothing much at all. Today, however, I was ready and willing to engage in all activities, jobs included.

This was a sight to behold, a friendly little mole had felt the warmth of spring and ventured to the surface. He was nowhere in sight, which was lucky. I wondered if he was still deep in his tunnels waiting for us to pass by, or off on some adventure before returning to his home deep beneath the earth. Luckily Willow did not spot this hole, as she would have been truffle hunting straight away. So I passed by leaving the mole to his own spring business.

On the beach you caould smell the sea, as it washed up to the shore. These sponges and seaweed had been deposited by a higher tide, leaving them stranded awaiting their fate.

This baby cuttlefish had not survived long, it is just bone now waiting for the birds to have their fill. At least nature has her own ways of recycling natural things, it's a shame us humans are unable to do the same.

This beautiful amber pebble stood out amongst the others and was begging me to pick it up. The colours we beautiful, swirling around the contour of the pebble.

This froth was left behind by the tide as it ebbed back out to sea. I noticed a large concrete like slab, which it gathered around before disappearing. It looks a bit like the head of a pint of beer!

Laying across pebbles and an oyster shell I noticed a mermaid's purse, these tend to be egg pods for dog fish. They look as those they have been removed from a belt and left lying just to be found by an explorer. I like the folklore that they are a gift left by mermaids, and am glad Troy remembers these not just for their scientific purpose.

This beach is mostly pebbles, but as you can see the sand makes its way through in some places. These pebbles stood out as the sun continued to shine.
We met lots of people out walking their dogs, cycling or just out for a stroll. Everyone was bright and cheerful, some stopping for a chat as the dogs sniffed each other out. Troy had brought his bike, and ridden along the sea wall. I'm not sure how far he went, but was just a dot on the horizon, when I came up over the first section of beach to higher ground. As I made my way across to the second section his figure grew, so I waved until finally he realised it was me and waved back. When he reached me he was fresh looking, so I guessed he had enjoyed the ride. On enquiring how far he had got, I was told down to the grey road. Well that meant nothing to me, as I have not ventured far down this stretch yet. He too had encountered happy travellers, who greeted each other with a good morning.
I walked the length of the second section of beach before turning back to wend my way back to the site.

Back on the site the dogs found a patch of snow to romp about in, before we headed back to the van to get some well earned food and drink.
The fresh air was a good tonic to liven up the spirits today, and I'm glad to say the beautiful weather continued till sunset. The evening sky was also magnificent, with the stars twinkling brightly forwarning the coming of Jack Frost to bring his icy blanket across the ground.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Calm After The Storm

What a total contrast in weather this morning, so crisp and bright as I stepped out to take the dogs for their first quick walk. There was a definite calm to the atmosphere, as if everything was enjoying the quiet after the noise of the last two days. These sort of days give me a feel of urgency to get things done and be out and about.
So by 10.15 we were all set for a walk along the beach, to discover what treasures had been deposited by the trashing waves. The site still had areas of deep snow, which could catch you unawares if you weren't concentrating. Troy stepped into one that reached the top of his wellies. Me, I was more careful as I had my walking boots on, and didn't want my trousers wet before getting too far.
Once outside the gates we headed in a south easterly direction, towards Margate. This is a seaside resort, which in the summer is crowded with tourists. It is about 16 miles from where we are staying, but I had no intention of walking that far today.

We walked along the sea wall and then dropped down onto the beach to find the snow had laid in the dip of pebbles. It looked like a white path leading along the beach. The sea was much calmer, but the waves still rushed up the lower beach, and looked a very dirty colour off to the right of this picture.

As you can see from this the weather had not done with us yet, and it was wise not to walk too close to the shoreline without wellies on.

I was amazed at the amount of very finely polished oyster shells lying along the with the pebbles. They were not the usual bobbly shells, these had been sanded down so they were thinner and smoother. I gathered a few of these, I may make wind chimes with them or something. We also found two cuttlefish bones, which birds like as a source of calcium.
I am always amazed at the flotsam and jetsam which is left lying on the beach after a particulary rough tide. There were two very long planks of wood, which would have been good for some carpentry idea, but I didn't have one so they stayed put. I did however, find a very nice half log and a stripped tree, roots and all. These were deposited by some steps up onto the sea wall to collect on our way back.

Troy found this football for Willow. It was intact when he gave it to her, but not for long. She made haste to cause that ball as much damage as she could, carrying forward as we walked along our way. It kept her entertained for quiet a distance till she finally gave it up to the beach for the next passerby to finish off. Troy also found a tennis ball for Talin. This only kept him amused for a short while, as he became distracted by seaweed and sponges, which are fun to harass.

As we came to leave the beach and head back along the sea wall, I noticed grass growing on the pebble near the sea wall. Life will take a hold where ever it can find the right conditions.

This is Talin, our collie lercher, who is now nearly five months old. He has grown a lot in the three months we have had him. I call him longshanks sometimes, because his legs are so long.

This is our two year old staff , Willow. This is a rare moment, as she is not really one for having her photo taken. She is a petite little dog, who can run like the wind. She has been a good mum to our puppy, for which I am ever thankful.

As we walked back to pick up our wooden finds,I thought I would take a picture of the oyster farm. It seems quite a big place lying in the flat land below us. Lets hope they do not create too many that do not get eaten and go to waste.
Now as I write this the wind is once again whipping up into a frenzy for the night ahead. I wonder how much of the snow will be left when we arise tomorrow?

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Winter Weather

The north wind doth blow and we shall have snow
But what will poor Robin do then, poor thing
He'll hide in the barn and keep himself warm
And hide his head under his wing, Poor Thing

This is a nursery rythme from when I was a child, it's not a particulary cheerful rythme as you feel sorry for the poor Robin. However, you know sure as eggs there's bound to be snow if you get harsh north winds blowing. Especially after the harsh north-easterly wind we have been experiencing for the last two days. Here at Reculver, that's where we are staying at the moment, the winds are coming directly off the North Sea. Yes this part of the south east coastline is on the North sea, as the English Channel only connects with it at the Dover Straits. So the winds can be very fierce once they have gusted across the North Sea from some far off colder region like Russia or Norway.
For the last two nights I have rocked backwards and forwards, side to side, in my little van as the winds danced to a merry tune outside. It is not an unpleasant feeling, but I find I can't sleep as the wind makes me restless. I suppose its the noise and motion that keep me awake, not that it bothers me more I want to know what it's doing. When I took the puppy out for his last walk at 3am I did not get too blown about, however, there was a fair amount of snow already fallen. It shone brightly up at us both, but did not deter us as we padded across the fresh layer of white. There were no other tracks on the ground only my footprints and his paw marks, to break up the picturesque landscape.
When I stepped out this morning to take both dogs for their first walk, it was as if we had not been out last night. The ground again was covered in a blanket of white, of course we soon changed that, me and two dogs can do a lot of damage. There had been a significant snow fall during the early hours, making it much deeper. When Troy saw the sight outside he was beside himself. 'This is just like when we were in Aviemore' he chirruped. ' and much better than that lot we had before'. By this he meant the snow we had in January, he was not that impressed with it as it only lasted in isolated places. Especially around our van to stop us moving. As you may have read he did get a bit of sledging in though, so it wasn't a total waste for him then.

After breakfast we donned all our many layers, topping off with wet weather gear and wellies, and set out to give the dogs a run around the site through the snow. As you can see Troy was also armed with his sledge just in case the hill behind our van was steep enough to slide down. Well you never know your luck.

However, on reaching the top he discovered that it just wasn't steep enough for him to get a good momentum on, so he had to abandon the idea of sledging. He did take the sledge with him just in case it came in handy for anything else. We both marvelled at the various depths of the snow, and could tell that the wind had blown snow across the ground piling it up in some places. I know that it is dangerous to be trapped in this kind of snow as you can get buried under snow drifts, but I find it quiet fascinating and artistic. It's almost like an artist had fashioned the various drifts to make the landscape look more appealing to the eye, making it less regimental and ordered.

The picture above is a water point, which is used by campers to get fresh water during the summer season. Now the water is turned off as the pipes would freeze. As you can see the snow is very deep here coming up to the water tap almost. In the background is my little staff dog, yes it's a real dog not a statue. She is looking under the vans for rabbits to chase, it's the best photo I will get of her as she is camera shy.

Here is some more snow art. It looks like an angel wind spreading out across the back of this van.

Here is another snow drift. This is a rubbish collection point, so there would be bins here in the summer season. Now it is empty except for the snow heaped in one corner, clinging to the fence like it's trying to get away from something. The tiny marks are Willows little paw prints.

This view shows the barren landscape that we have acros to the south of us. It looks partculary desolate covered in snow, but really they are fields with dykes. Over towards the North Sea wall is an oyster farm, which I am sorry to say I know nothing about as I haven't found anyone to ask. That's how quiet it is here, no body much about at all.

Yes those clouds in the distance did hearld more snow, but only a brief flutter. The sun shone brightly in the afternoon making both us and our van feel warmer. As I looked out before the sun finally set I could see that some of the snow had already thawed. Yes this would not last that long, just long enough to give us a bit of fun and make everything look beautiful and clean. Well where no one has trampled anyway.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Imbolc Blessings

Last Friday, 29th January 2010, Troy and I took the dogs for a walk through farmlands near off New Dover Road, Canterbury. These were once my old playground, I would scrump fruit from the trees and ground during the summer holidays as a child. Now they have been split up with only apples and pears, from what I could tell. It was a lovely walk which took us out to Bekesbourne Lane, which is on the other side of Canterbury going out towards Sandwich. We then had to walk up the lane and cut back into the farmland. I was lucky that I grew up in the area, as I would have been totally lost and had to tuen back. Troy had taken his bike with him, so he rode most of the way, but had to push it up Bekesbourne Lane till we reached the farmland again.
We were all throughly refreshed when we returned to the van, and ready for a cup of tea and something to eat. As we sat drinking our tea the heavens opened and both Troy and I thanked our lucky stars we had got back when we did. Not only would we have had muddy dogs, but they would have been soaked to the skin. It did not last for very long and was replaced with beautiful sunshine and blueish skies. It shone brightly helping to warm us in our van, giving more heat to the fire already up to full heat. Then the skies darkened and the sun disappeared behind a big dark cloud. Troy was spell bound by the rapid changing weather, he could not believe how quickly it had changed from one extreme to the other. More was to come, as I looked out and saw approaching us from the north east a blanket of white clouds. Then it hailed, very small balls of hard ice which bounced on the road and the van making quiet a din. We watched out of the window as the wind blew the icing sugar around in swirls. It was a bit like watching sand dance across a beach. As well as the hail it started to snow, big clumps of snow which quickly began to give things a white covering. I looked back out towards the north east and saw patches of blue sky. Troy could not believe it, here it was snowing yet in the distance he could see blue skies. The little flurry did not last long at all, being hurried along by the wind, but it had been enough to give a sugar frosting to the ground and settle in clumps on our step outside. The wonders of the weather as they zip across the skies is the most amazing sight I have ever seen, and am now fortunate to have witnessed two such events.

However, I digress as I am apt to do. As we walked along the hedgerows and orchards I noticed very tiny buds starting to appear on the bare branches. I am sorry for the quality of the pictures but I had my tweenies gloves on, these are nice thick thermal swede gloves so my dexterity is a bit cumbersome to say the least. I was gladdened to see such a magical sight, as this gives us a hint that spring is beginning to awaken from the depths of her slumber.

I imagine the beautiful colours that will spread like wildfire, lighting the way and giving a lift to everyone's heart. This does not mean that winter is over, far from it as my pre-ramble noted. He still walks the Earth spreading his white blankets here and there, making the landscape glisten and sparking with the hard frosts in the morning and sending biting winds from way up in the north.

Every day we have more daylight, which is becoming stronger and brighter filling us with his warmth. These are the things I have been noticing recently, and have delighted in the scences as they unfold before my eyes.

The last three nights have been bright with the moon in all her glory. She has shone radiantly across the night sky, giving light to the dark areas. The skies have been clear, so the stars have twinkled just that little bit more in her wake, looking more like gemstones than ever. It is so serene being out with the dogs after midnight, listening to the sounds of animals going about their business in the woods and fields. I am ever thankful for the life I now lead, which allows me to live close to nature and enjoy all she has to offer.
So this Imbolc I am sowing my seeds so that I may enjoy a bountiful harvest come the summer months.
Bright Blessings to all

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Joyful Times

At last I can settle and write about our time over Christmas and the snowy period. We spent the festive season with my sister, in her house. Which is a bit like going on holiday for us. Troy was very lucky in that he was able to have a room to himself, as normally he has to share with me. This was a great adventure for him, as well as great comfort for me. It is the first time he has had a room for just him and his things, so he has spent a lot of time in this space creating and just being himself. This is something most kids take for granted, unless they have to share with an older sibling, but Troy moved from sharing with me as a baby to living in a van. He does have his own space in the van as he sleeps above the driving cab, but it is not the same as a whole room to oneself.
We had snow the week before Christmas and everyone was getting excited that we may actually have a white Christmas. The South East of England tends to be too warm for snow, but this time the winds were coming from the North East so anything was possible. Canterbury was not cut off completley but there were some difficulties with roads and railways. This became very apparent when we had our stall at the Yule Festival in Canterbury on the 19th December. The turn out was quite poor so we did not sell alot of our wares, but never-the-less we had a good time meeting new people.
Then we set to getting ready for Christmas day and time with the rest of our families. My sister decided we would have a goose for Christmas dinner this time, and I have to say it was a delicious meal fit for kings and queens.

It was stuffed with a sweet and savoury stuffing and lasted about three days in all. She even managed to save the fat for cooking with at a later date. I have never eaten goose before, and although it was very expensive it was delicious and filling. Even Troy liked the meat and stuffing.
New Year was also spent with my sister and her daughter and children. We all saw the New Year in together, toasting with glasses of wine and juice. It was great fun to have the kids around as they are so entertaining, especially when up late as they get second wind.
Then the snow really came to Canterbury. It was thick and fast and determined to stay for a while. We were stuck, our van was snowed in and so we stayed at my sister's as there was nothing else we could do.

Once it had laid and set it snowy claws into the ground we took the dogs over to the University where there is a bomb crater, ideal for sledging down. As we walked throught the woods and fields we were amazed at how the landscape had been transformed by the snow. Of course we had experienced scence like this the first year we were away. You see we had our first winter on the road up in Aviemore, and had snow from 16th December right round till April. Well not constantly, but off and on. So snow covered scences were a delight to behold once again, making Troy wish he was back in the Highlands of Scotland sking on the Cairngorm mountain. The weather had been so cold that the ponds had even frozen over, although neither of us was brave enough to test them out.

Eventually we found ourselves at the site for sledding, and Troy got himself ready to have a bit of fun in the snow. He was lucky to have a sledge from our time in the Highlands, so he could just get on and slid to his hearts content.

This site is good as it has deep side running down to the bottom of the crater so there is far enough to get a good slid on.

Whilst standing watching his exploits, and having a few go's myself of course! I saw a couple of ladies of the older generation whizzing down the slopes on wooden sledges.

Neither of them had any concerns about all the young people around they just got on with having their own enjoyment. They were having a great time, as much fun as anyone else.

I stopped them for a quick picture as I was so amazed to see them flying down the hill without a care in the world. One of the ladies had had a knee replacement, but htat has not stopped her, as they both get out and about all the time. They enjoy life to the full and are not afraid to try new things. For me that is what life is all about, not sitting at home waiting for the eneviatble to happen. Long may it last for the both of them.

As you can see our new puppy Talin has grown as is now bigger than Willow, but that does not stop her from doing anything. We are blessed to have such lovely dogs who love being out and about whatever the weather.
Now the snow has gone, and although there maybe more snow elsewhere we will probably not see that much more this year. Soon we will be back in our own home doing what we do. I hope everyone has enjoyed the snow wherever they are, and not stopped life just because it was too cold, or their drives and roads were blocked. We need to remember that life goes on no matter waht the media and Government say. Don't be afraid just live.