sky watching, fire and ice – first published 15 and 16 January 2015

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The cold was beginning to bite back in January 2013 and there was snow forecast. Not that we get much snow around these parts. Actually I was hoping it would snow because I had some band new Yak Trax to try out. Snow or no snow I was enjoying the beautiful, even unusual, skies. At times they seemed to be filled with fire and ice.

16 January 2013

Brrrr, it was freezing cold yesterday morning with a real icy North wind blowing. According to the breakfast news the whole country was covered with snow, except this little corner. That’ll be the Yak Trax then. For breakfast I tried the fruity granola, I know you’re not going to believe this, I hardly believe I’m saying it myself, but it was even better than the cocoa nib one. I was sorely tempted to take some to work for one of my snacks but I resisted in the end. Variety is the spice of life after all, even if I could happily have granola for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a few granola snacks thrown in for good measure.

Wrapped in my thick wool coat, a scarf, gloves and flappy eared hat, not to mention thick socks, Skechers boots and many layers of clothing I set off for a bone chilling walk made more bearable by the most beautiful pink, grey and blue sky. I know I’m obsessed with the sky but sometimes it takes my breath away with its ever changing multi hued majesty. Speed took second place to the many stops to snap photos. The brisk wind sent the clouds scudding across the sky giving me a different view every few seconds. When I saw the rowing club out on the water as I crossed the bridge, I couldn’t believe it, they must have been freezing. What a dedicated bunch they are. By the time I got to work all the blue and pink had disappeared and the gathering clouds had turned the whole sky grey.

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Arabella got called to Genoa over the weekend so I have a week to get everything sorted before she comes back. Sometimes I wonder if her husband recognises her when she does eventually go home. I’m sure Commando wouldn’t be too happy if I was away as much as she is. At lunch time I did pop out for a few minutes but it was too cold to walk very far. At some point during the day the grey clouds cleared and the sun came out but I only noticed it when I went to make a coffee in the afternoon.

Just before five thirty I returned to the kitchen to wash my coffee cup and the sky had changed again. The horizon looked almost green fading to a brilliant turquoise then electric blue. It was so unusual I grabbed my phone and snapped some photos through the window, sadly they don’t do it justice which is a shame because I’ve never seen the sky like it before. I did Google it to try to find out if it meant anything, weather wise, but, although it’s a well documented phenomena, it simply means the sky is clear, nothing else.

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Partly because of the unusual sky, I decided to walk home over the New Bridge, in the hope of getting some better photos. Sadly, by the time I got outside the colours were fading, although I did get a picture between the buildings as I climbed to the top of the steps up to the road. There was a crescent moon too. At times like this I wish I had a better camera, one that could take good night time photos. If I did I’d probably never see anything worth snapping.

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The big freeze was going on outside when I dragged myself reluctantly out of bed this morning. At first I thought it had actually snowed, the frost was so thick on the roofs of the houses across the road and the cars on the street. I got slightly excited at the thought of using my Yak Trax until I realised it was just frost. As the sun began to come up, the sky outside the French windows was a surreal shade of pink and, when I peeked outside, the decking and garden were white with frost. I should think anything in the veg plot the slugs haven’t eaten will be well and truly dead by now. Oh well. You win some you lose some, it would be nice if I won a few more though.

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The front gate was actually frozen shut and it took me a while to get out. My poor hands were stinging  by the time I did and I told myself I really should get one of those arctic jackets because I’m sure the weather would be balmy if I did. Luckily, the pavements, except the places where kind people had poured water to de-ice their cars, wasn’t slippery. That was a good thing because, today I had a plan of action to stop being so cold on the walk to work.

It was a cunning plan, to walk over the New Bridge rather than the Big Bridge. Why would that keep me warmer you may be wondering? Simple, the walk over the New Bridge starts with me walking up the Little Hill and I figured, as I always feel cold on the first part of my walk but warm up after a while because of the walking, if I started off with the Little Hill, I’d be warm by the time I reached the top because of all the extra effort. It worked too, I was actually sweating my the time I got to the top of that killer hill, apart from my hands and bits of my face, I didn’t feel cold at all after the first minute. I probably burned a few more calories too which can only be a bonus.

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When I finally staggered to the top of the hill the grass on the park looked like it was dusted with icing sugar. I felt a bit sorry for the poor dog walking across it with his master. His little paws must have been frozen. Do they make boots for dogs I wonder? If not they should. The sunrise was hidden by the trees again, just a hint of an orange glow between the branches. The view across the river on the Big Bridge was probably spectacular, pity I can’t be in two places at once really. I took the road that runs behind the green again, I think it probably cuts a little bit off the journey and it’s nice to get right away from the traffic, even though there’s a lot less of it this way. Looking across to the church the silouettes of the bare trees were framed against a sky that looked as if it had been painted, so many shades of blues, greys and pinks they looked like mad Van Gough palette knife strokes.

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The bottom end of the lonely path was filled with pockets of ice where the rain water has trickled down the hill and frozen. I had to watch my footing to avoid ending up on my bum. From there it’s not far to the bridge, just over the railway bridge and then up the steps. A bit more climbing to get the blood moving before the long, exposed span of bridge. The sun was more or less fully up by this time but, thanks to a layer of low cloud, I still got to see a sunrise of kinds, complete with screeching seagulls, as I walked across.

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By the time I got to the office I was boiling. Maybe I don’t need an arctic jacket after all.

Perfect light

Crosshouse
Crosshouse

15 February 2015

When I told Commando about my Sunday walk and how I hadn’t actually made it to the old floating bridge slipway he looked puzzled.
“But you went to Crosshouse?” he asked.
“Yes but I wasn’t all that sure how to get to the slipway. From the map I could see it was really nearby but I had run out of tissues and I thought I’d probably get lost wandering through all the little streets in Ocean Village trying to get to it. Besides, it looked like it was going to rain.”
“I see,” he said.
“It’ll still be there another day,” I told him. “I might even go back next week if I get time.” Continue reading Perfect light

Spitfires, a ferry, a lost village, and a pear tree

The Yacht pub
The Yacht pub

9 February 2015

In the end, instead of climbing back up the slippery bank I decided to carry on a little further. This may well have been another procrastination device to avoid the muddy ascent but it proved to be more interesting than I expected. Of course, I’ve walked this way many times but, even on a familiar walk, there can be surprise discoveries. Passing the Yacht Pub where people were enjoying a Sunday lunch time drink in the winter sun, I made towards the slipway and the little park where the Itchen ferry boats used to come and go. Continue reading Spitfires, a ferry, a lost village, and a pear tree

Sea, sand and pebbles – first published 30 October 2012

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At the end of October 2012 I had much better weather for my walk along the shore. In fact it was prefect walking weather, cold and bright without too much wind. Back then work had not long begun on painting the tall flats and the whole of the Itchen Bridge could be seen across a sea of rubble on the old Vosper Thorneycroft site. So much has changed in just over two years but so much remains the same. Continue reading Sea, sand and pebbles – first published 30 October 2012

The motivation of music and some parks – first published 28 September 2012

Mad House steps
Mad House steps

The invention of the iPod and, before that, the Walkman were, in my humble opinion, the best technological advances in modern times. Ok, so neither have ended world poverty, cured diseases or won wars but they have made music accessible at any time and anywhere. For someone who walks long distances this is wonderful. Quite often I don’t use my iPod at all but, on a miserable day or a long walk where I’m struggling, having the music I want with me in my pocket can make all the difference and, in times of stress, the right song can soothe and calm. Back in September 2012 my poor overstuffed mind needed a bit of both. Continue reading The motivation of music and some parks – first published 28 September 2012