The weather had been a devil in disguise and had managed to surprise everyone. It was temperamental and unpredictable. It was either all or nothing. Last week I was tricked into believing that I’m in sunny tropical Malaysia and this week I was shivering in frostbitten Siberia. The recent heat wave was now a distant memory. It was so cold, that I found this perfectly formed ice in this tulip leaf in the garden.
“April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.”
~ T.S. Eliot The Waste Land ~
I took the bus to work twice this week. Babe was having one of his bad days and was tucked in bed with a hot-water bottle plastered to his head. Out came my winter boots, thick woollen socks, leather gloves, hat, long scarves and thick coats from storage. I was so organised that they were already washed, dry-cleaned and stored away. It was a shock to be shivering at the bus-stop in the wet, windy and freezing conditions. Thankfully, the Midlands wasn’t as bad as the blizzard-like conditions of the North.
It was so cold that someone thought that it was going to be Xmas in April. Babe took this adorable photograph from our bedroom window. This Santa Goldfinch was picking fluffy, white feathers for building a nest. I think that at least 2 pairs were nesting in the Leylandii hedges in front of the casa. The feathers will keep the eggs warm and hopefully insulated from the atrocious conditions.
From time to time, the heavens opened pouring snow and sleet. It was freezing outdoors and we were also shivering in the office. The heating had been switched off when we ushered in British Summer Time. We’d to rely on portable heaters and of course, wearing layers. Outside the office, the cherry trees were in full bloom. What a magnificent sight. I was praying hard that they wouldn’t drop before I could take some photographs. The beauty of trees blossoming always lifts my heart especially so when the weather was awful.
Cherry blossoms tend to wait until late April or May. But a run of warm weather has encouraged the fragile flowers out weeks early. Although it was wonderful to see the blossom this early, nature's timetable was incredibly well choreographed and it was a cause for concern that a lot of the pollinators, like honey bees, which the cherry trees rely on,will not be around yet. The wind could also blow the blossom off the trees before they were pollinated.
I took advantage of the lull in the weather during my lunch break and went for a walk, dressed like the Michelin man. I was so pleased to see that the swan was sitting on a nest, beautifully camouflaged by the reeds. I’m glad they were back again on their old nesting site. Last year, the Estate department had cut all these reeds and I don’t know where the pair went. I’ll be checking their progress every week now. There was also a water fountain in the lake. It must be a new feature.
As I continued walking, I spotted grey wagtails, robins, mallards mating, coots, moorhens, Canada Geese, reed buntings and a Great Crested Grebe. This was my first sighting in the university and I hoped this lovely bird will stay. There were a lot of cherry trees in full bloom and honey bees were busy collecting pollen. It was wonderful to be out in the fresh air and coming back to work, feeling refreshed and raring to go.
The hosepipe ban was finally upon us, implemented by seven water companies starting on the 5th of April. After weeks of tweaking their rules to create as little bad publicity as possible, these suppliers laid their judgement upon us. A hosepipe ban was introduced to conserve water stocks. Those caught using hosepipes faces fine of up to £1k!!! I and I bet others too would agree that water companies that allow water leaks should also be fined. Considering the vast profits they make on what was, after all, a natural resource, I would suggest a fine of £1m for each leak that had gone unchecked. That would really push them to put their house in order before penalising us. I was very excited when I looked out the window one morning and saw our 24th visitor to our garden. It was a Greenfinch and it was sharing the birdfeeder with a Coal tit. How lucky can you get. The Starlings tend to monopolise the feeders most of the time. But we also have a very feisty pair of Robins chasing everything off. There is also a pair of docile Pigeons and they were nesting in the Leylandii bushes at the back of the casa. Britain was warned to brace itself for travel chaos as a perfect storm of atrocious weather, fuel tanker industrial disputes and the mass Easter getaway collide. We’d a few plans lined up but it all depended on the previous warnings and also Babe’s health. What we usually do was look at the weather forecast when we woke up and go from there. Whatever you do, please take care. Have a n egg-citing Easter.
“Life is like a blanket too short. You pull it up and your toes rebel, you yank it down and shivers meander about your shoulder; but cheerful folks manage to draw their knees up and pass a very comfortable night”
~Marion Howard~*Don't put aside winter clothing until May is out – a Scottish proverb.