So, here we are already a week into 2014. Christmas has passed, the decorations and tree put away and life returning to normality. David has gone back to work after two weeks’ holiday, mother has been safely returned to Reading, and the house seems strangely quiet. Our Christmas was relaxed and enjoyable, unlike many in the UK who had theirs and their homes ruined by flood damage and electricity failures over the period. My heart goes out to them, it must have been awful. Flooded property is a nightmare and for many it will be months before they can get their lives back on track.
Many claim the flooding as part of global warming but there are other natural factors involved. This year’s flooding was caused by a combination of a full moon, a low depression and high winds causing storm surges and exceptionally high tides. Similar happened in England in 1952 and there are records of severe flooding in the West Country in the Middle Ages, with the Bristol Channel and River Severn flooding in 1607, wiping out complete villages with high loss of life. The River Severn has the second highest tidal rise in the world, so this sort of event is nothing new.
We live on high ground above the River Severn so we were safe, but living high up does have a few disadvantages, like the strong winds which blow direct off the Atlantic, and boy, have they blown lately. It’s invariably windy here, which is why we have high hedges, fences and walls surrounding the garden. Many of our plants lean permanently at an angle and much, including the vegetables, need to be staked or tied in. At this time of year hanging washing out is impossible – it would take off! Thank goodness for tumble driers.
We are only a few weeks into winter so there is a strong possibly the weather will turn much colder, with heavy frosts and perhaps snow. I hope not; I hate the snow and the cold. I’m a summer gal and long for the warmth of the sun, often laid low by SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), and sorely miss my early morning coffee taken in the garden. I used to get very depressed by the long dark nights and cold, dismal days of winter but a simple observation by my husband a few years ago helped me to see this time of year in a new light when he pointed out that once the shortest day had passed, the days increasingly get longer; and they are. Within a few weeks, the difference is obvious. So armed with this positive attitude I find I can handle winter a lot better.
This morning the sun was out, the rain stopped so when I went down the garden to refill the bird feeder, I took a walk around the garden, for the first time for several weeks, my boots squelching in the sodden grass. For the past two years, on New Year’s day we had crocus in flower on the lawn; this year not a sign of them, which is surprising as the weather although wet and windy has been remarkably mild – I even had roses in flower on Christmas day! But the snowdrops are up, their shoots, inching up above the grass, the daffodils in the lee of a south-facing wall are nearly a foot high, with buds forming, and some of the wallflowers are already in flower. The bluebells are also shooting, and my favourite hellebore is full of fat, dark purple flower buds, soon ready to open. The clematises have new shoots sprouting, although next month the plants will be pruned back in anticipation of summer. And whilst there are several months to go, spring is definitely on its way.
I might be a bit late in saying this, but I do wish you all a Very Good 2014 and hope all your dreams, hopes and aspirations are fulfilled this year.
Till next time…