We’ve been away. I’ve been off to a local rest and recuperation centre. He has been down south visiting relatives. We synchronised our existence again today – and went off for our walk, just as if nothing had happened. I think it’s pretty safe to say, nothing had happened.
I left a few posts in strategic places as we went on our rounds but, from the fragrance of the moment, life seems to have been wandering on, in pretty much the aimless manner it did when I was here to oversee things. I suppose that in winter (or are we still in autumn?) you can’t really expect dramatic developments on a daily basis. The cows have all moved on to greener pastures – or at least a comfortable cowshed with all mod cons to see them through the cold and wet months. The cow I spoke to about this was very emphatic this was an important part of their work ethic, to say nothing of their hooves rotting away in the mud.
The sheep don’t seem to be quite as picky about a little cold and damp. They are out there in their dozens, filling up the fields so recently vacated by their, more delicate, bovine relations. I don’t mind sheep – but I do wish they wouldn’t stand at the gates of the fields and stare at you.
Oh, yes. And did you notice? They’ve put the Christmas decorations up.
Well I’m off on my holidays. See you in a week or so. What? Oh. Don’t worry, he’ll write something for you. Who knows what you’ll get, probably a helicopter. See you later.
As you’ve gathered, The Dog has gone off to play with her playmates at one of those, what you used to call summer camps over in America – or so I believe. So I seized control. Then I remembered why I let her take over. There isn’t actually anything to write about at this time of year.
We fought our way, through the sleet and the howling gale, down to the beck today. Here I must digress and assure you that our gales do really howl. I’m not sure if it is the ground contours or just the gap between the buildings but it makes quite a noise. The trees, on the hill behind the house, tend to roar. I think that the wind excites them, it isn’t a ferocious roar or roar of pain – they’re just shouting at the tops of their voices, because they want to. So, with the noise of the wind and the roar of the trees and the hood of my raincoat pulled over up over my head, I often feel quite isolated – it’s a bit like undergoing solitary confinement – but cold and wet as well.
As The Dog has gone off to Summer Camp I wondered if the beck was at all tropical – sure enough, I found a crocodile lying basking in the hail. Of course it could be an anaconda.
Or an anadile. Or a crocaconda. An alliganda? An anagator?
As the countryside eases into autumn, the pace of life and growth slow down and almost all the plant life is beginning to show signs of, at least relaxing a little and in a good few cases, dying back in preparation for the over-winter doze. We do seem to have been waiting for summer for such a long time, it is quite hard to accept that there’s a chance that we’ve had all we’re going to get. Admittedly it hasn’t turned cold on us yet, but it looks as if it is – when you peer out at it from behind the safety of a window.
One of the things that happen, here on the blog, in autumn and winter, is we fill up the space with pictures of trains. There are days when autumn leaves of assorted colours take their place, but trains are our staple diet though the bare times. Over the last year, through thick and thin, sleet and snow, rain and hail, the trains have kept going. Allowing for the slings and arrows that beset any company trying to provide a public service, at around twenty to the hour, the train from Newcastle to Carlisle trundles past our house. Shortly after, usually within five or six minutes, the train from Carlisle to Newcastle grunts, groans, huffs and puffs past, climbing up the long slope that goes to make up our embankment. Over the year we’ve been here, on two occasions, the two trains have actually passed each other as they passed in front of our house.
There are almost innumerable sites (ask Google) who will explain to you what “N’ere cast a clout till May is out” means. Just in case you’re wondering it means “Don’t put your warm underwear away until the weather warms up”.
Most explanations focus on the problem identifying May. Is it May the month, or is it May the blossom. A lot of people feel that waiting until June – i.e. the end of May is being a bit too cautious and anyway June 21st. is the northern hemisphere’s summer solstice, so if you’re still wearing your long-johns by then you might as well keep them on ready for next winter. The May blossom, on the other hand, often appears by the end of April (not this year though) and April showers can easily turn into nasty mean, vicious hail, sleet and snow storms.
That very nasty cold April wind is, at the moment, blowing around large clumps of cast off fleece. Many of the sheep are looking decidedly tatty as they shed their winter underwear in large handfuls against any hedge or fence they lean on.
They’ll be sorry! The May blossom, let alone May, isn’t out yet.