Monthly Archives: February 2015

Far behind: 5.

I saw several sparrows splashing in a puddle on Valentine’s Day. It may have been too damp for a dust bath, but not too cold for a puddle bath.

Before long we’ll be watching for frog spawn in the garden pond, putting a good amount out of the reach of frost and rearing some tadpoles away from the predatory blackbirds who know an easy meal when they see one.

Valentine’s and the birds

They say today is the birds’ wedding day so during the days before I always look out for the first gull to resume his or her black head. Since I now visit both North and South coasts in the course of a week you might expect that I would spot this sign of spring near the beach, but it was on the playing field near home that I saw my first black headed gull of the year yesterday!

Far behind : 4

The pussy willow brought indoors as part of Mrs T’s Valentine’s tribute has begun bursting enthusiastically. As I was pruning this afternoon, I found many buds showing green but also disturbed a tan coloured moth which flew a couple of yards to cover. The snails I found seemed still crusted into their shells, so it must be ground-burrowing slugs that are dining already.

Winter’s not over yet


In and out of the White Cliffs of Dover – no wonder the Victorians used to talk of railway mania, it’s a crazy place to build a line, but they did want to reach the ports. A century and a half later we can enjoy the views across the Channel in warmth and comfort.

One man who would have enjoyed this day was Mr Turner, the artist JWM Turner, who captured the thrill of the Victorian railway in Rain, Steam and Speed, as well as the sea and sky as their changing moods react to each other.

As often after showers, France looked much closer than twenty miles away. In those few minutes that I was in the train, the sun was shining over Ambleteuse, lighting up the surrounding hills, all snow-covered. The storm that had anointed them was rampaging West, a black presence right down to the waves, leading a pack of dark beings intent on disconcerting sailors and landlubbers alike.

Yet the sun shone over the distant snow fields, and here and there lit up a stretch of sea, a white ferry coming in from Calais, the end of Admiralty Pier.

The next storm-wolf was roaring hailstones over Dover as we arrived. No ride to the beach for my picnic lunch today!,_Steam_and_Speed_%E2%80%93_The_Great_Western_Railway#mediaviewer/File:Turner_-_Rain,_Steam_and_Speed_-_National_Gallery_file.jpg