New Year’s Day was dull and grey. The next we awoke to a world changed. Overnight snow is the joy of winter. By some standards, it was a modest covering but sufficient to raise me from my lockdown position in front of several PC screens. If we must have winter, if I am unable to ride a motorcycle, if I cannot swing a golf club, then let’s at least have it pretty.
It is around this time of year I get itchy feet and plot escapes north, always by rail – Inverness, Wick, Kyle of Lochalsh and Bodø/Lofoten have been my destinations over successive years, although only the latter yielded the white stuff. This year, inevitably, I am going nowhere – locked up, locked down, call it what you will, I am told we are in Tier 4. News channels can speculate, offer opinions, call in experts, exhort, criticise and alarm – just don’t assume I am listening. I am out of reach and much the happier:
Crossing the Birkey Burn
Between Beaufront and Acomb
Hexham and Egger from Salmons Well Farm
Egger from north of Oakwood
The sheep get up and make their many tracks And bear a load of snow upon their backs John Clare – Sheep in Winter
The Victorian postbox at Sandhoe
Today I walked down the street I use to wander Yeah, shook my head and made myself a bet There was all these things that I don’t think I remember Hey, how lucky can one man get.
Another September day, another ride out – this time to Winter’s Gibbet, Steng Cross, just south of Elsdon.
In 1791 the body of William Winter was hung here in chains, in sight of the place where he had murdered old Margaret Crozier of The Raw, Elsdon.
The present gibbet was erected on the exact site of the original. The large block of stone at the foot of the gibbet is the base of the Saxon Cross which marked the highest point of the ancient drove road, down which cattle were driven from Scotland to the English markets.
It is the saddest and loneliest of places, even on a mild September afternoon.
The stone block is visible at the foot of the gibbet
This is a our real and virtual Christmas card for 2013 – for those who have not received the printed card, this is the virtual copy. To my followers and especially those that have taken the time to comment on my sometimes bizarre and random thoughts throughout the year, have a wonderful Christmas and a very happy 2014.
So far, we have had no snow this year in Hexham, just a succession of wet and windy days. Consequently this winter scene dates from February 2013 and actually appeared, ‘un-Photoshopped’ in an earlier post. It is the view across the field from our front door which means I don’t have far to travel 🙂
The changing season in the Tyne Valley is about to change for the worse:
A SIBERIAN wind, dubbed the ‘Beast from the East’, is set to batter Britain next week, bringing heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures to most of the country. It will be the worst winter weather in 20 years, says the Evening Standard. A brief respite from the cold weather is expected this weekend before the bitterly cold winds blowing in from Russia and the East cause temperatures to plummet on Monday, making some parts of the country colder than the North Pole.
The North East will bear the brunt of the extreme weather: temperatures around Lincolnshire and Newcastle are likely to reach -12C, while London and its surrounding areas could drop as low as -6C.
We have been warned. When the north easterly winds blow across the fields adjacent to our house, the snow attaches to the trees and disturbing shapes emerge:
The trees and hedge protect the lanes from the worst of the driven snow but these untreated by-ways can remain black iced and treacherous for days on end.
Now that snow is falling on my blog until 4th January 2013, falling faintly through the universe, I have posted some seasonal photographs.
Before I get onto the main subject I thought I would share this rejected Christmas card. At some stage in the Photoshop editing process I became bored with the image; it was taken down one of the local lanes but in the end I thought it looked too much like something from the top of a biscuit tin. Returning to it a few weeks later I am loath to discard it altogether. The fine words from James Joyce did survive onto a different version.
I have been blogging (horrible word) for a few months and now seems an appropriate time to introduce the neighbours. We live in the wilds of Northumberland but we are still part of a modern multicultural society – near neighbours include Highland Cattle, Longhorns and Llamas (or are they Alapacas, I am never sure):
It is perhaps unkind to be rude about the neighbours but these Llamas don’t look to be the sharpest knives in the cutlery drawer, but then again, looks can be deceptive. This final picture contains the inevitable sheep, looking unusually grubby against the white, white snow. This is facing southwest across the Tyne Valley; the river is on the right, shining brightly as it temporarily changes course before heading into Newcastle, the Shields, Tynemouth and the North Sea. The picture was taken just down the road from where these poor unfortunates suffer the rigours of a northeast winter.