Sunday, 17 February 2008

Good to see some frost

One thing that can truly be said of our British weather is that there is always scope for plenty of variability and such is the case recently. After a very wet and mild January one could have been led into thinking that we would be stuck with the same in February. To the relief of many I guess this has proved not to be the case. Last night was another frosty one but it has now being followed by yet more bright sunshine.

So what are the plusses regarding plummeting nightime temperatures? Well for a start it's been good to get the chance to see the stars in all their glory; I'm lucky here that the light pollution isn't too bad so that observing the heavens is a practical proposition. I have to say that I'm in awe of the stars and all of nature's wonders. On a practical note perhaps a few sharp frosts will reduce some of the unpleasant nasties in our gardens; certainly the mild wet winters of late have assisted the burgeoning slug population. Will the frosts inhibit the development of the midges that have been spreading the awful bluetongue disease? I believe that a vaccine against bluetongue is very close to coming to market and it's just possible that we might be able to stop it in its tracks this summer and not endure the sort of apalling losses they had last year on mainland Europe.

News on the radio traffic report this morning of some road traffic accidents possibly caused in part by the frost. A problem here in the southwest is the fact that our narrow highways with their deep banks may not see the sun for most of the day with the consequence that isolated slippery conditions persist. To compound the situation there are many instances of streams spilling out from fields thereby causing localised icy patches. It is this sudden change in circumstances as you are driving that has such a potential for accidents to occur.

Yesterday I had a decent walk in a hidden valley not too far away where once market gardening held sway. One of the popular 'crops' were daffodils in the Spring. The steep slopes on which they were cultivated have reverted to scrub and woodland but happily the daffs come up every year. Presumably because January was mild and wet the flowers are very advanced this year. Although not quite at their peak there are already plenty to see and what a delight they are. At present there are still a good number of snowdrops still in flower so it made for a breathtaking spectacle. I hope to show off these daffodils to a couple of friends in the village shortly, I've talked up this daffodil walk to them and trust they won't be disappointed!

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