Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Longest Blackthorn Winter?

We had never heard the phrase 'blackthorn winter' until we moved to Devon in 1987.  The tradition (not just in Devon, apparently) is that there is usually a spell of cold and wintry weather just when the blackthorn is in blossom.  That also explains why some years there are very few sloes on the bushes in autumn – very few pollinating insects fly in the 'winter'!  This year, the blackthorn came into flower during March's warm spell, and is only now beginning to fade. Meanwhile, we seem to have had ALL the seasons' weather, not just winter!

More signs of Spring!  On our way back to Blisworth from the Leicester Arm, a duck with ducklings – I make it 15 of them!

Oilseed rape in flower in a quiet canalside scene near Brinklow as we head north-westwards on the Oxford Canal . . .

  . . . and swans nesting on the Coventry Canal near Bedworth.

Can you see the subtle flush of blue on the woodland floor here?  (Click on the picture to enlarge it.)  
Lovely countryside where you might not expect it – between Nuneaton and Atherstone.

Val tackling one of the locks in the Atherstone flight.

Geometric patterns in the well-tilled soil near Grendon – and the hawthorn is nearly ready to blossom.  "Ne'er cast a clout till the may be out" they say, so warmer weather must be on the way!  Meanwhile, the weather seems to be trying to compensate for water shortages . . .

  . . . and a grey squirrel in Hopwas Wood poses for his photo as 'Zindagi' chugs slowly below him.

We are steadily heading north-west, hoping to be on the Caldon Canal near Stoke-on-Trent for some real Spring weather!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Family Gatherings

During the last few months, we have seen a little more of our family . . .

Towards the end of 2011, we descended on Adam in Shrewsbury for a couple of days of not-doing-very-much-together, and very enjoyable it was!  We did a bit of eating, though, as you can see!  Here are Laura, Thor, Shireen, Jeremy, Val & Adam doing their best to clear the table . . .

 . . . and 'Lottie the Rottie' enjoying a tug-o-war with Shireen (with Thor's help!)

 An evening walk shows Shrewsbury looking a little different

Games for all ages!

 A brief visit to Glasgow in February included exploring the Transport Museum  with Thor –

 who took great delight in operating the 'sack loading' hoist on board the tall ship 'Glenlee', moored alongside in the Clyde.

We also visited Balmaha on the eastern side of Loch Lomond,

Watching the water – for what?  (No idea!)

Helping Shireen redecorate her short-term art gallery!

More recently, having checked out of the marina, we met Jeremy and Laura at Whilton Locks and then went up the Watford flight together,

– coincidentally marking 6 months since a certain wedding back in October –

 and then meeting Adam in Crick.  We chugged on for a few miles together, then turned back to Crick, where J & L left us,

 and Adam came DOWN Watford with us, collecting his car at Buckby.  The logistics worked out fine in the end!

We then made our way back to Blisworth for a few more days, before setting out again last Saturday, 14th April.

By the way, on 27th March we celebrated 5 years since we first set out on Zindagi for our 'year afloat'. 

It was always likely to be two years, but FIVE ? !!!

Winter in Blisworth

We have actually set off on our travels now but, before we get you right up to date, let's share some of the images we gathered during the rest of our 'hibernation' in Blisworth Marina . . .

A hungry-looking heron on the ice at Rothersthorpe locks.

 Misty sunrise through thorn hedge and teasels.

Ice on the INside of one of Zindagi's portholes!

Zindagi in Blisworth Marina – iced-in, and with February's snow . . .

 . . . and this bridge got the same treatment!

After the snow and ice, the mist

The end of March brings the promise of Spring – ash buds opening