We woke on Saturday morning to a fiery red sunrise; the herald of interesting weather to come, as tradition would have it.
King of the Hill was quick to grab the camera, and seized a few shots before the colours fled. The sun continued its ascent, soon to be swallowed by the thick layer of cloud which hovered above. The ribbon of clear sky on the horizon that had flared red faded into obscurity once more, and the day settled into a pale grey.
Then the snow began to fall from those thick clouds, gently at first. After a cold night, the snowflakes started to settle comfortably onto the land this time.
King of the Hill worked quickly as the snow tumbled down mid-morning, wheeling barrows of logs from the woodstore at the bottom of the garden to the store by the house; chopping kindling from the pile of broken pallets at the feet of the horse chestnut and beech trees. We then left the woodstoves burning to drive to a friend’s daughter’s first birthday party some distance away.
As the afternoon drew to an end, the falling snow we drove through turned to rain, and by the time we reached home all trace of snow had been washed away.
There was no further snow for us overnight; reports across the UK tell of drivers stranded, flights cancelled and people battling with deep snow, but we woke to a dry day. We wrapped up warm and strode out into the countryside for a bracing walk. We had thoughts of trying a new route, although we were mindful that it involved crossing a low plain. As we descended the country lane which led towards the cross-country path we had in mind, the surface beneath our feet crunching with freckled patches of ice, we could see that the grassland stretched out ahead was indeed heavily waterlogged.
That would make a pretty impressive ice rink if the deep freeze continues, we joked, and continued on down the dirt track, wondering whether we would be able to navigate our way across on our intended route. As we came out into the open fields, we found the grassland was strangely half-frozen; hummocks of stiff frozen grass and crisp mud ringed with pools of water – interesting terrain to traverse. A fast-flowing stream had burst its boundaries and formed impromptu tributaries which snaked across the grass, too deep to cross and barring our way. Reluctantly we turned around and continued back to higher ground.
We retraced our steps and joined a familiar route, avoiding the rough terrain made impassable by the weather. Even one of these surfaced lanes presented some challenges, where excess water from the fields had run onto the roads and frozen and thawed repeatedly to form glassy lengths of a treacherous mix of water and ice.
Refusing to be turned around again, we inched our way along the narrow frozen banks along the side of three such stretches, before returning to solid ground to complete our walk in a more conventional manner. Needless to say, this lane is not frequented by much traffic besides the occasional tractor – or lost tourist.
Not the route we had intended to take, but an interesting way to get the blood pumping on a cold Sunday morning. We returned for a hot lunch, and then I took advantage of the milder weather to plant out a small parcel of snowdrops that had been delivered at the end of the week. Sent “in the green”, the bulbs had long shoots with the first white buds already showing. On arrival I had unpacked and laid the plants down on a windowsill temporarily and kept the roots damp for the day or two until I could get into the garden in daylight. Already the shoots had bent up towards the light.
It was an interesting challenge to plant them out in this condition – another time, I must stand them upright if I cannot plant them out immediately! I hope that they soon recover from this curl, and settle into their new homes.
More reports of bad weather across the region and country today have shown us how lucky we are in our little microclimate not to be several inches under snow today. I hope that you and your gardens are faring well?