Waiting For Snow

It has been a terribly long wait since The Priory had snow enough to show and tell: a five-year wait.  The Beast from the East didn’t bring huge amounts of snow to my corner of Sussex; but if we were spared the havoc meted out to parts of the Kingdom, we had sufficient for me to lose several day’s pay.  But on Wednesday morning the skies cleared and keen to see The Priory wearing her rare cloak, Jim and I braved the roads to drive the half hour from our home, left the car on the road and walked down the drive.

Snow over the Priory (1)

A four-by-four might have coped with this icy slope the day before,

Snow over the Priory (2)

but I know from bitter experience that an ordinary car might not.  An hour of side-sliding and back-sliding in my own car, with spinning wheels under a pall of burning rubber, tends to stick in the mind.  As do memories of The Priory owner’s car marooned down below for several days.

Snow over the Priory (3)

Looking back up the drive

At -3.5ºC it was bitterly cold for Sussex,

Snow over the Priory (4)

but as I emerged from the wood and gazed down over The Priory a lazy, northerly sent the temperature way down further still, to well below my boots.  (In Yorkshire an icy, cut to the bone wind is called a Lazy Wind.  Too lazy to go round you, it passes straight through).

Snow over the Priory (5)

There was precious little warmth from bright sun above Margaret’s fields.

Snow over the Priory (21)

In the gardens, the snow wasn’t as deep as I’d hoped for nor the trees as smothered.  But it was exciting to see the place under a decent mantle again; with gusts of wind whipping up flurries to quickly bury footprints.

Snow over the Priory (6)

Unsurprisingly, the east pond was frozen;

Snow over the Priory (22)

icicles clung from greenhouse guttering;

Snow over the Priory (7)

and naked oak branches were picked out beautifully by white dusting;

Snow over the Priory (15)

their undersides lit up by reflection from the snow.

Snow over the Priory (8)

I set out on a well trod, anti-clockwise circle of the grounds,

Snow over the Priory (9)

and crossed the footbridge for a good view of the house.  I wondered momentarily whether the ice was thick enough for me to walk across … but nah.  I wasn’t feeling quite brave nor foolish enough to try.

Snow over the Priory (10)

As I stood focusing my camera on some pollarded willow still in need of pollarding, a mandarin duck shot out noisily from under the bridge beneath my feet.  Being of a jumpy disposition, I jumped (and possibly squealed) and only just avoided slipping forward and testing my walking on ice quandary.

Snow over the Priory (11)

Across the meadow now, with a few sorry-looking daffodils poking through into the sunlight.

Snow over the Priory (12)

I crossed the second footbridge in the footsteps of a couple of foxes who hadn’t bothered to skirt the vegetable beds.  Lazy foxes, like the wind.  No matter, garlic and onions have yet to emerge.

Snow over the Priory (13)

And so to the west pond with Despondent upended on the bank.  She’s lain there since a house-guest recently paddled out for an adventure.  He was underwhelmed by the experience, I think, and even more so after needing a hand from a forelock-tugging-gardener to regain the shore.

Snow over the Priory (14)

February Gold narcissi have let me down again.  Were they renamed March Gold, I need never be disappointed.  But here February Gold always flower in March.  Or rather, once – once! – in nine years have they done what they promise and started their show in the very last days of the second month.  March Gold would be a truer name or Very Occasionally But Let’s Be Honest Hardly Ever Really February Gold.

Snow over the Priory (16)

I’ve pruned the apple trees already, so that happy task is done for another year – but it irks me that I missed the little twig top right.  Why is the inconsequential so stupidly annoying?  Or is that the stupid are annoyed by the inconsequential?

Long tailed tit

From the trees, I hang five bird-feeders.  I waited for birds to come and feed despite my proximity.  As I could no longer feel my feet, I couldn’t wait long but then one fidgety long-tailed tit did so – before he and his gang bobbed away in that curious, charming, undulating flight.

Robin

Up by the greenhouse is a sixth feeder.  My caged robin has fattened up handsomely and I really ought to fish him out and stick him under a pie crust.   But he will be sweeter yet after another few days.

Snow over the Priory (17)

Looking back – Margaret’s fenced pond with the greenhouses behind

With little gardening to be done on a day like today, Jim and I set out southwards, uphill to Margaret’s farm.

Snow over the Priory (18)

We passed a small flock of her sheep … whose interest in us evaporated at our obvious deficiency in hay or sheep-nuts.

Snow over the Priory (19)

More sheep watched us hopefully as we approached the yard, on our way to coffee in the Aga-warm kitchen.

Kevin

But first we loitered by the barn where, snug under cover, stood Margaret’s new ram.  He’s an imposing, fearless chap and I like him enormously.  He’s wearing a raddle – a huge crayon, if you like, that indelibly paints the back of any ewe he has attended to.  He’s probably rather proud of leaving his mark of love on the flock.  The flock, I imagine, less so.

Margaret’s animals almost always bear fine, resolute names.  There were her rams Digby and the mighty Cyril.  Her bulls – Lawyer, Picton, Envoy, Emblem and Wellington.  (I’ll gloss over poor Petal’s name.  Bless him.).  So what do you think the new ram might be called?

Beowulf would suit.

As would Thor, Maximus, Horatio or Achilles.

Athelstan?

But you’d be wrong.

Hi, Kevin.

60 thoughts on “Waiting For Snow

    • Hi Cecilia, thanks and I’m not sure where I first came across the lazy wind phrase – James Herriott possibly? Feel free to borrow please, it ought to be more common parlance anyhow.

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  1. Ok – that poor Robin – his ears must be burning with all those truly awful comments about putting him in a pie – mind you perhaps some burning around his ears might shave off a few feathers & let him escape. He looks too fat to escape his little prison but for the sake of anyone who might think he is actually trapped in there – I trust like most – he’s a skinny in a heavily fluffed out feather coat & extricated himself once he’d stuffed himself yet again?? Or has he decided to stay put & wait for you to stick some lard on the bars to release him while he eats it as well instead of squeezing through?

    Whichever- think that’s enough of my weird pain med humour for now! I’m off to see what size our Belfast robins get to for comparison LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Now I feel bad. If not for the robin – which incidentally was succulent and tasty – but for you thinking so long and hard about him. Belfast robins? I’m off to track one down, D

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  2. Great photos and blog post. We’ve just had a mini ‘Beast from the East’ as it returned for 1 night only and the small town on the east coast was covered in a blanket of snow again. Hopefully some warmer weather is on the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I thought it was Blackbirds that went into the pie?
    It is unusual for a ram to be ‘working’ at this time of year. There is I believe only One breed of sheep that breeds all year round. What breed is Margarets?

    Liked by 1 person

      • Here’s Margaret’s reply, Brian – “The one breed of sheep that your correspondent refers to is a Poll Dorset and that is what Kevin is. However, although I have kept his harness on, this is so I can grab him as necessary. I think he has finished working now although unfortunately, it doesn’t look as though he has served all the ewes. I shall know more on Thursday when somebody is coming to crutch out the ewes (shave around their bums), very undignified but very necessary so that I can see what is going on and keep the ewes clean when they have lambed.”

        Now you know! D

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  4. Thanks for the account of your snowy walk. We had a lot of snow down here in Devon and the thing that stood out for me was how dry it was when it fell, so that it blew around very easily in the strong winds and of course drifted, blocking roads etc.

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  5. Amazing images David! It looks like the snow really was very widespread, as it hit here much harder than was expected.

    The Priory looks stunning in the snow. It must be a treat, especially as it rarely happens. I especially like seeing the footprints of animals through the snow.

    Also, I very much like the name of Margaret’s new ram! 🙂

    I hope you’re doing well, David.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Kevin, thanks and I’m really glad you like the post. Your namesake is a glorious beast – as I’m sure you are.

      I’m doing very well, thanks but waiting impatiently for the gardening OFF.

      David

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  6. Thanks for the beautiful images and, as ever, your most amusing thoughts. This weather has been hard on the plants and our wages! At least I’ve had time to fit the new cable to the mower…

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    • Hi Peter, and thanks for your thanks (?). Both my partner and I have lost so many days recently, if not to snow then to heavy, heavy rain. Why, I’m even looking forward to mowing again. Sounds like your raring to go. D

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  7. This is snow at its prettiest don’t you think? Thankfully we have been spared the awful slushy stage this time around as it thawed really quickly. We are back to rain now (how very unusual, not) and all I can do is wait and see how much damage has been done.
    I once had a boss called Kevin. This one is a dead ringer.

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    • Gosh. Your Kevin didn’t war a raddle too?

      And yes, it is nice when snow has the good grace to plump down, look beautiful and then quickly disappear. Old snow is no friend to anyone and besides, I needed it to go so I could work!

      D

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  8. Beautiful wintry scenes, Dave.
    February Gold NEVER would bloom before early April here due to snow, but still, it is the first to bloom and for that, I am grateful.
    I think Maximus would be a (hopefully) prophetic name for a ram! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, thanks Eliza. To know that I am not alone with my lazy Feb Gold is a comfort. I will quit my moaning and be grateful that mine appear a month before yours. (If I had a ram, I think we both know his name). D

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  9. I have experienced 70 years of winter snows in NEW England & never tire of the beauty of scenes like the ones you’ve shown us here (by March it DOES get weary, I must say!). And your gardens enhance the appreciation. (It’s good you didn’t test the ice though…minus 3.5 C is too warm. We are safer with our -10 to -30C. here in winter!)

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    • Ouch. -30C is quite hardcore. -2.5C must seem balmy to you. I saw that the canals in Amsterdam have frozen over and people have taken to the ice on skates – quite wonderful and Bruegelesque. D

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  10. I love reading our Blog, David. The Priory garden looks as beautiful as ever, even under the snow. As for Kevin the Sheep, well that did make me laugh out loud. He must be friends with dear ol’ Shaun!
    Regards
    Lorna x

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