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January Ramblings

5th February 2024 – by Henbury Webteam
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frosty morning unsplash

January 2024

Happy New Year All (but it won't be so new when you read this and to my shame as a fully paid-up pedant, I've just realised I missed the "a" out of "Year" at the end of the December ramblings – and Dot the Dog missed the error while proof-reading – she has been spoken to...).

Anyway, the year began as the old one had ended – with another storm – "Henk". Who dreams up the names? The rain came, Dot the Dog's favourite paths were inundated to a depth of several inches. Bucket baths were needed (fortunately not for me!). The geese took up semi-permanent residence on the field behind Williams Way as the flood neared the garden fences.

Two or three days in, the sun finally broke through and DtD and I had lovely morning and afternoon walks, although the paths and tracks were still part-submerged. The Church Lane/A537 junction was closed for pumping out the flood around the adjacent electricity substation and the road through Birtles bends had been closed the previous day due to flooding so that our visitor from the Wirral was diverted from Monk's Heath via the A34 and Pexhill Road to Broken Cross – no easy short cuts. Then came warnings of a cold snap with several days of fog and mist.

The fog arrived as forecast. It's amazing how the fog deceives the eye. Dot the Dog and I were on our way back from Whirley to Moss Cottage/Mossways, having splashed through the remaining puddles and standing water. I was about to thank someone for giving way to us at the kissing gate but as we approached I realised that the "person" was actually the northernmost hawthorn in the hedge.

Some quite hard morning frosts came and then it suddenly became much milder – no rain but rather dank. DtD was thoroughly delighted to realise she didn't need hosing down or bathing before coming into the warm for her breakfast or tea.

The next thing was the forecast of another – colder – cold snap with perhaps snow. For some reason the frenetic plundering of the bird feeders paused with only intermittent visits from the tits and goldfinches. The long-tailed tits had not made an appearance – yet – but they are always harbingers of hard conditions. Perhaps because of the poor weather our neighbours were also busy feeding the birds and we had competition – or maybe the threat of the sparrow hawk had an effect.

In the paddock off Anderton's Lane there was more activity – a dozen fruit trees had been planted on the hillock. It was so good to see what had become derelict land since the horses and ponies departed coming back into real use.

Then a couple of days with hard frosts and finally the snow. Dot the Dog was ecstatic! She launched her ball into the white stuff, tossed up the snow with her nose, snorted (nostrils filled with snow) and did it all again – several times. Best of all she came home clean from her walk – no mud (it was frozen) and the snow cleaned her up.

There were no obvious fox or badger prints in the snow this time but there were some large hoof prints and "other evidence" that a horse had been along the track towards the cottages.

One morning as the thaw set in I heard the unmistakeable croak of a raven and I finally saw it high in the sycamore at the bottom of our garden, calling frequently. After a few minutes it flew off, and only then did I realise that there were two birds. The frequent croaks appeared to be some kind of conversation because they carried on uninterrupted as they disappeared towards Dark Lane.

Storms "Isha" and "Jocelyn" came and went, with some damage to a garden fence – a four inch square concrete spur that I had put in around 1980 to feep the wooden post off the ground snapped off – some force! Cold frame glass shattered.

Then cold but fine weather – remaining Christmas nuts were scattered under the hedge by the paddock one morning for the squirrels (much to Dot the Dog's disapproval) – by four in the afternoon they had gone.

Finally as January ground to its end a mix of mild, wet, days, frosty mornings and some lovely sunsets.

Work in the paddock moved on, with preparations for field drains (well-needed).

Potholes (one, anyway) were outlined in white for repair on Anderton's Lane. Unfortunately because of the weather the markings were more or less washed away within a few days – perhaps the holes will be filled in February – or maybe forgotten...

As ever

Horrid of Henbury

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