While indulging in my secret obsession a few weeks ago, on a beautifully balmy Sunday morning, I was startled to see a whole flock of birds, in a classic V shape formation, heading out over the sea. About three or four years ago, when we had a really bad winter, I saw a similar thing. Hundreds of birds in V shape formations flying South to sunnier climes in August. At the time, I mentioned to some friends that I thought it was going to be a really bad winter and they just laughed at me and told me I was insane. Lo and behold, snow! It snowed and it snowed and then it snowed some more and the whole country was brought to a standstill and I was snowed in for 10 days. It happened again the following year. The birds flew south in August and once again snow, ice and a two week lock-down in my snow covered valley. Last year however, the birds were still here in late September and they didn't pack their bags and leave until early October and we had a really mild winter down here in Cornwall with hardly a flake of snow to be seen. Typical really because last August, in anticipation of a bad winter, I bought Chuck the Truck, an ancient 4x4 Pajero built for Cornwall in the depths of winter in a blizzard!
Since writing the above bloggery, about 3 weeks ago, I have also noticed another curious thing happening, which, in my humble opinion, points to the coming winter being particularly harsh. My house is being invaded by spiders! And when I say spiders, I don't mean the ones that are small and dainty with a delicate little web in some distant corner, I'm talking about spiders that are mean and menacing and look as if they eat small cats for breakfast! They are at least the size of a saucer (well at least 3cm) with huge hairy bodies and giant hairy legs and they appear in the middle of the night so that when I wake up in the morning they are looming over my head giving me the fright of my life. Understandably, the first few times I awoke to find a giant spider eyeing me as if I was a tasty morsel, I freaked out and much leaping and bed bouncing would follow as I attempted to squish the little bugger with a book while attempting to avoid the inevitable panic as the spider falls off the ceiling onto the floor and begins making a dash for my ankles. However, there have now been so many spiders over the last few weeks that I have refined my spider squashing technique and it is now down to a fine art. Firstly, I grab a can of hairspray. Any kind will do but I find the cheapest brands have to best sticking power and I give the spider a quick blast of super-strength, hold-your-hair-in-place-in-a-hurricane hairspray, rendering the evil spider immobile and glued to the ceiling, thus eliminating the ankle biting scenario because the spider can no longer fall off the ceiling. I then grab a long piece of wood, which I find useful for squishing from a much greater distance, and voila ...... no more spider. The downside of all this squishing, of course, is that my once pristine white bedroom walls are now liberally covered in squished spiders that need scraping off on a regular basis ..... in my opinion, a small price to pay for spider free sleep.
Anyway only time will tell whether this winter is going to be a bad one but I for one will be stocking up on coal and logs and stuffing the freezer full of food just in case!
Here are some snowy facts for you courtesy of the good old Met Office.
• On 25 September 1895 snow was reported to have fallen at London and Wallington in Surrey making it the earliest fall of snow on the capital.
• The snowiest winter of the twentieth century in the United Kingdom was 1947. Between 22 January and 17 March snow fell every day somewhere in the country.
• The most disastrous avalanche in the United Kingdom occurred in Lewes, East Sussex on 27 December 1836. Eight people were killed and several houses were destroyed.
|Cornwall in the Snow 18th December 2010|