Having worked this morning it was time to catch up with outside jobs only a few yards from the house. Some of the frost was melting and there were still fallen leaves to lift, hellebore leaves to cut back and a wander around looking for signs of spring. When we used to keep chickens, it always amazed me that their brain could detect the small increase in day length from the 21st December onwards and bring them back into lay on the 24th or 25th. There is snow on the nearest ridge and on higher ground all around but none here. The hazel catkins are still very tight and new but some will come into the house when the Christmas decorations are taken down. There are lots of jobs that will need doing when the weather improves and I was making a mental list of these when I saw it, down among the dead leaves – the first snowdrop. It may well be hidden by a snowdrift, hail or floods in the coming weeks but what better promise of spring to find near the end of the year.
The sun was soon up and the sky blue so while waiting for it to open, I wandered around getting some shots of the buildings.
Warhol’s early work as a graphic designer and his use of multimedia has got me thinking of more art work I could do when I have the time. Now we are back home and preparing to get back to work tomorrow.
On Christmas morning thunder, hail, rain and a rainbow all appeared in very quick succession. There was some debate as to whether hail constituted a white Christmas. We set off east aiming for the sun rather than following a star and soon left the bad weather behind. Back home, after the family Christmas celebrations snow was forecast and all around seemed to be having some. Our local microclimate seemed to be the only place with rain. This morning we scraped the frost from the windscreen and set off for Liverpool. As most of my journeys there are work-related, it was a great to be heading there for pleasure. There was some shopping to be done, including a few books from Kernaghan’s in the Bluecoat, maps for the Caithness, Sutherland and Orkney trip in June and a guidebook for Sicily where we are heading in September. Tonight, a local Catalan restaurant comes highly recommended by a colleague and the Good Food Guide.
Although I awoke to blue sky (and grabbed a photo of the turret of Esdaile and our cherry tree branches against the blue), the clouds soon arrived and the forecast was rain/sleet and snow over 200m. James decreed that this ruled out a beach walk as he did not spend five years in Aberdeen and walk on the beach in all weathers as I did. The second option was varying the route back down south which I am always in favour of. The A68 was the choice and after passing through Pathhead where James did his trainee year, we were soon south of Earlston and spotted the Leaderfoot Viaduct which I did not remember from childhood visits to these parts (we used to go to the campsite at Lilliardsedge). Just north of the campsite is the Monteath Mausoleum which again, I don’t remember.
Outside the towns there was very little traffic but some great views on the B road from near Otterburn and through Bellingham.
We kept seeing Pennine Way signs which is a reminder to walk from Smallwood to Edinburgh, taking the Pennine Way for the majority of the journey. Today we had to pass by. The ubiquitous hill sheep are a potent reminder that these hills would have all been covered in forests before the sheep came.
Nearer to Alston (the highest market town in England) we could see the north Pennines had a dusting of snow and it was by the road as we drove over the Hartside Pass (1903 feet)
and then descended into Penrith, the rain and the motorway home.
On Friday, I emerged from the second hand bookshop after a couple hours of loading books on for internet sales, thinking how ironic it was that an Amazon-avoider like myself was now selling books on their marketplace (albeit for a charity). It was great to see blue sky and sunshine outside. Back home to to pick up James and the dog and then we hit the road. Before the motorway I got a quick look at it and could see there were major problems so we diverted on to the A50 and crossed the Warburton Bridge, paying the 12p toll.The cantilever bridge reminded me of some of those we crossed on Route 66. Back on the M6 and south of the Ribble, there was a huge black cloud and heavy rain, but a rainbow over to the right, promising better. Its promise was kept as by the time we reached Cumbria the sun was out again and the hills glowed in fantastic winter colours. Despite it being December, there was still no snow to be seen on any of the hills we passed. Approaching Beattock, there were frequent signs warning of snow on Sunday so we will wait and see. On the A702 there was a full moon hanging in the sky heralding a change in the weather but no problems this afternoon and we arrived without any problems.
Today we endured the inevitable crowds in town for some essential (a book fair) and some Christmas shopping, fortified by a coffee in Valvona and Crolla, one of my favourite shops. A lighter moment was spotting the latest mural by St John’s Church.