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