Sunday, 26 February 2012

We've Had Babies

As always, my first duty is to welcome a new 'follower', Molly Printemps and her very interesting and entertaining musings on her blog can be found here

There comes a time every spring when I venture into the garden with trepidation ready to start the year's preparation for the spring and summer. Although I put the compost on the borders a few weeks ago, I've done very little other than a watching brief. The weekend has been pleasantly warm because there's been no breeze, but a thick jumper was still needed.

Surprisingly, the garden's not looking too bad; a little tatty perhaps, ragged round the edges, but a bit of elbow grease will soon sort that out.

On Saturday I semi-cleaned both my fish ponds and gave it a good examination. I found one dead goldfish that had become trapped behind a basket, but other than that - all appeared well and indeed today, I saw a few tiny black fry swimming about the large pond - we've had babies! The water is warm enough (10 degrees C) to feed them a little wheatgerm food and they are tentatively playing with it. 

Today saw me clean my greenhouse ready for some plants coming and some spiders are now looking for new homes. I have some different varieties of lavender bushes in pots and after a trim, they were re-potted along with some other plants including two geraniums which had survived all winter uncovered in the greenhouse. 

I have noticed the huge number of ladybirds in the garden and the midges are flying over the ponds already, highlighted in the weak late winter sun shine.   The lady birds vary both in size and in colour - some are pillar box red and some are even shinier slightly darker red and the number of spots vary too.  I must take some pictures and check the varieties out - I just thought there was one type of ladybird and that was it!

I have noticed however how relatively dry things are which I suppose I should be surprised at but considering there's a drought already officially announced in South East England, it's understandable. We haven't had sustained rain here for a long time. 

The spring flowers are showing nicely - snowdrops are in full bloom and the hellebore is just starting to flower. Shoots are well advanced on the roses and the grass is tufting in places so I guess the first high cut is only a couple of weeks away. 

I hope you have a great week.

Chat soon


Sunday, 19 February 2012

Is Spring Upon Us?

There are no twigs on my grass. That's official. The first day in the garden today for about three months give or take a few bob and the sun was shining but my goodness it was cold. I was shocked at the amount of fallen branches and twigs in the garden, but I have noticed that the crows are very active picking budded twigs off the trees for their new nests which could account for a fair bit. 

Neither should I have worried about the spring bulbs coming up, the snowdrops are in flower although they look smaller this year and the daffs are just a few inches tall now although I have seen some flowering nearby. Perhaps the late snow just caused a little bit of a set back. All of the snow has gone now and I've been able to pick up about half a bin's worth of twigs and leaves that have accumulated in nooks and crannies although I thought I had got rid of them last year.  They clearly hide and then come out when I'm least expecting them just to create me extra work.

The sunlight brought new life to the garden today with quite a strange and softer light than the usual low harsh light that winter suns bring.

What makes a phenomenal difference to my current well being is that I travel to work in the daylight and come home in the daylight.

Well it's been a busy old week last week, out every night doing this and that and this weekend has given me chance to recharge the batteries a little and I'm really looking for some warmer weather which the BBC has forecast for later in the week. For now the bitterly cold easterly winds have abated which is nice.

I really do need to start to lose some weight again and not sure how to do it really. I think I'm going to try hypnosis because I have no will power, I have decided.

Although I Tweeted it first before the BBC broadcast the news (I cheated - I read the English version of the Swedish newspaper The Local Sweden ) what about the man who survived two months stuck in his car in a snowdrift in Northern Sweden. Although emaciated and hardly able to move, he survived just on snow and the fact that being surrounded by snow kept him insulated. He was found by two snow boarders. Lucky guy, he should buy a lottery ticket.

Chat soon


Saturday, 11 February 2012

Be Prepared

A picture from the inside of my car window this morning.

If you hail (excuse the pun) from outside the UK, you might notice that us Brits love to talk about the weather. I'm not sure why and I know that when extremes of weather hit, it doesn't matter where in the world you come from, it's a real talking point. Perhaps as a nation of shop-keepers (a disparaging remark - according to the French) and farmers (a proud statement - according to me) the weather is so important. There are a couple of blogging friends who live and work on farms and the weather I guess is crucial to planning, cost and ultimate success and perhaps survival as a business.

We've had our second spell of snowy weather in the last few days and although a lot of the snow has gone, huge blankets of snow still adorn open spaces but the weather is now so cold. Side roads and footpaths remain firmly frozen and covered in packed ice. Friends are blogging and Facebooking that they are experiencing minus 10 and minus 12 degrees Celsius last night as the skies cleared. My car clock showed minus 5 degrees at 10 o'clock this morning.

The weather of course affects our every day life and whether you are in 30 degrees of sun or minus 30 degrees of frost, you adapt everything accordingly. We dress accordingly, we heat or cool our homes accordingly, we make travel plans accordingly and many aspects of our behaviour change when we have an extreme of weather that is unexpected.  

 For example, just taking a typical day this week:
  • I get up half an hour earlier to make sure I have time to clean the car of frost and ice and take extra time for my journey to work to get me there safely.
  • I often wait until I get to work to have breakfast, but this time I made and ate porridge before I left the house.
  • I look up the weather forecast on the Internet before I leave.
  • The house heating is adjusted up to make sure there are no problems. The scarf and hat and gloves are dug out of the cupboard and a sturdier pair of shoes are used. Jumpers are worn throughout the day even at work in the office. 
  • A hot meal at lunch and tea for energy and warmth (which I think is probably a myth anyway).
  • Close the curtains early and close internal doors to maintain warmth.
  • Extra sheet on the bed, central heating on for an extra couple of hours a day.
Much of this costs more and takes more time and with over one million homes in fuel poverty this year in the UK (low income, high fuel price, poor energy efficiency and low occupancy), my thoughts are very much with those who are struggling to cope with the weather.

So, sorry to rattle on about the weather but keep warm - or cool depending on where you live and ALWAYS be prepared.

Chat soon


Sunday, 5 February 2012

Chill Out and Slow Down

I guess pictures of snow and tales of how it affects us will be plentiful on the Internet - well this is no different!

Our first substantial snow fall for the winter came overnight last night (Saturday into Sunday) and we had about 4 inches (10cm) give or take a cat's whisker. 

I was clearing the driveway with a new snow shovel that we bought a few months ago in the expectation of yet another bad winter and today, it had it's first outing. Lovely neighbours came over and said hello as they headed out for a walk and they had just returned from Spain yesterday, not quite sure which part, but they said the snow was all about them on the hills and mountains and the temperature was minus 1 degree Celsius as they walked along the sea shore in a bitterly cold wind.

Their parting shot as I was leaning on my snow shovel was that they had had an acquaintance a while back who was clearing snow from the drive and he had a heart attack. Just want I wanted to hear! Cheers. I felt like a sit down after that.

Indeed many people have lost their lives after severe and unexpected snow fall in central and eastern Europe with the BBC reporting a loss of over 200 lives. Canals in Venice have begun to freeze over and a town in the Netherlands has had its coldest night for 27 years. Even the sea in southern England had begun to freeze on the shoreline.

And yet we mostly like the snow whilst looking at it through the window. I have a certain attraction to it and I'm not sure why, probably from my childhood when I would spend hours in the snow and not think anything of it until my fingers hurt with the cold through holding onto too many snowballs or building snowmen. But it does cause hardship and disruption; I just wish we were all chilled enough in this country (excuse the pun) to sit back, let life slow down and enjoy it rather than forcing ourselves to travel, to go to work or to the shops or just out for a jolly.

The picture above was taken this morning of my Yew tree and what an unusual shape the snow had moulded the branches into, I've never seen it shaped like that before.

Wrap up warm!

Chat soon