Saturday, 26 January 2013

January Brings the Snow ...

Makes your feet and fingers glow - according to Flanders and Swann, that is. It arrived last Friday, 18 January and is still here, albeit much melted and looking filthy.  I reckon we had at least 12"/30cm over 6 days. Not that much, really, but enough to cause disruption and damage.

I took a friend to a consultant's appointment in Haverfordwest on Wednesday.  It was snowing here when I left, although none was forecast, but at least the fresh fall made it easier to get up the icy drive from the barn.  The road had been gritted and was pretty good; wet, not icy and the snow wasn't settling (or 'sticking', as they say around here).  Haverfordwest was clear and we were going to stay for lunch when J's mobile went mad with calls and messages from friends and family, saying how heavily it was snowing, and to get home NOW!  The A40 was fine to the outskirts of Narberth, then we turned north onto the A478 and into the snow line.  Driving became increasingly interesting and was getting a bit hairy by the time I dropped J at Glandy Cross.  She had about 8 miles to go on the main road to get home, and I had about 4 miles on back roads.  Really, the driving wasn't too bad on the fresh snow (I have a dinky little 4x4) but I was glad when I got home, and already the depth of snow made it difficult to turn into the barn. After I left her, J had 2 near misses when she was just sitting in her car, as drivers took the turn into the side road badly and slid towards where she had parked (nice and safely, a good distance from the junction!). She was on the phone to her brother in law at the time and he came out with the truck from his garage, to make sure she got home safely.

Meanwhile, it continued snowing heavily, and there was no way I was going to be able to get back out again, or guarantee I would be able to get home safely that night.  So I had to postpone the belly dance taster workshop I was supposed to be giving that night in Tenby, which hardly had any snow.  There were 18 signed up for it!  We're going to try to do it next week, instead.

I heard a whooshing and cracking sound during the evening and found that it was an avalanche of snow off next door's roof, which brought down a section of guttering.  The guttering on my cottage was bulging with the weight of snow, too.

Snowy houseyard.
Thursday brought bright sunshine, but no real warmth except that generated by shovelling a path from the barn (used, amongst other things, to park vehicles out of the weather) and the houseyard gateway. When I went out in the evening to shut the hens away, I watched a droplet form on an icicle ... which started to freeze instead of dropping.  This morning, the yard outside my front door was a sheet of ice and I waded through the mounds of snow around the sides of the yard to get safely around to the hens. They are extremely fed up with the dark, wet weather, poor things.
The cats are also hating it.
Greebo and Xena curled like quotation marks and hogging the sofa
Yesterday evening's fun (?) was an abortive attempt to go to see another friend.  It was raining all afternoon, and getting steadily heavier until it was coming down in sheets.  The water was pouring out of field gateways, washing stones, muck and lumps of slushy snow out onto the roads, fountaining up from drain covers and creating floods which were becoming increasingly difficult to drive through (let alone see, in the dark). It took me 45 minutes to go 12 miles. I decided to call it a night and try to take a different route home, because I reckon I was one of the last little cars through a flood further back up the road. The local back roads were better than the main roads, but it was so foggy (or perhaps I was in the clouds?) that it was like driving in pea soup in places. Once home again and with a cup of tea in hand, I saw the flashing lights from two emergency vehicles as they sped past, and reports started to appear on the news about rivers bursting their banks and flooding in nearby towns. When I went to bed, the rain had stopped, to be replaced by a strong, gusty wind banging around and howling through the cat flap.

Snow, sunshine, ice, rain, fog and wind.  Pity the poor wildlife! I see flocks of starlings and thrushes flying over and wonder how they are coping.  Perhaps they are relying on the fields where stock are being fed and trample the snowy ground. One of the local Song Thrushes Turdus philomelos is using my back door step as an anvil, having found snails hiding in crevices under the ivy on the barn walls.
Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba
It's the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch this weekend and for once, the weather isn't too bad here.  Will I see anyone at my feeder, given the competition from next door's mega bird table?

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