We woke to a very cold and frosty morning, thank goodness for the Rayburn is my first thought. I'm not sure what the definition of a hoar frost is but whatever, it just looked so beautiful, and as the sun came up even better. So, we decided that it would be pointless trying to work outside and the time could be far better spent in going for a walk. Great debate as to where, but in the end settled for around our local fields and orchards. So much easier when the ground is frozen, provided that you are not walking around ploughed fields, then often the hardness of the soil can make it tricky to walk without danger. Our fields, on this day had lovely wide grass verges and we made good use of these.
The bird song just seemed so much clearer and I was so glad that I had remembered to top up the bird feeders before we left. Lately, we have been putting out niger seed and it is great to see the goldfinches squabbling for the prime positions. The view across to Clee Hill was breathtaking but it was the patterns that the frost had made which caught my eye, more than anything. As we walked through an orchard, there were one or two remaining apples left on the trees, which I'm sure the birds will enjoy at some point. But in the meantime, they looked rather like Rudolf's red noses, glistening on the bare icy branches. The frost on holly leaves and on the pine needles was amazing to see, being outlined in a delicate white tracery which emphasized the shape of the different foliage. A good carpet of leaves still covered the grassy paths and oh how lovely to stump our way through making a great deal of noise, not deliberately I might add, but it is nigh on impossible to walk through frozen leaf litter silently.
Must admit it brought back some happy memories of walks to school through the park and kicking up the leaves. Difference nowadays is that there is nobody to scold me for scuffing the shoes! We watched a blackbird madly attacking a fallen apple which was well tucked under a hedge and therefore was not too frozen. A robin, with his feathers well fluffed up sat and sang for us on a low branch, wouldn't the country side and our gardens be a sadder place without their red breasts welcoming us, or the familiar cock of the head with its beady eyes watching as we work or walk in this case. Just wish I had something to feed him, because he did look a tad cold as were my toes by this point! Thermal socks do not live up their name, tootsies were still cold! But then perhaps other folk might have better circulation because I am not nicknamed chilly Jilly for nothing.
Trying to open the wooden gate to the last field, proved nigh on impossible, it was frozen but perseverance paid off and we continued our walk. The line of poplar trees which were full of mistletoe made a dramatic picture with bright blue sky giving strong contrasts. Of course, this is mistletoe country, in fact it could be counted as a weed. For I am forever rubbing away young shoots on a particularly vulnerable apple tree which leans at a 45° angle and I don't wish the angle to decrease! Berries on several different rowans looked almost edible, especially those of Sorbus vilmorinii, clusters of tiny under-ripe raspberries are the thought which sprung to mind. The small stream was still flowing and as we crossed the bridge, we spotted a kingfisher darting away. Hopefully he will find some breakfast, but a joy to see that flash of iridescent blue, even more so on a chilly morn.
Home for a cuppa, but first a walk round the garden just to check all is okay. It was interesting to see the frost patterns on four horseshoes which I had placed on an old sleeper. All were found in the garden and such a variety of sizes indicates that over the years many horses must have grazed the land. The verbena in the yard with its frosty caps on and even the self-sown cotoneaster looked far more beautiful than it normally does. Its days are still numbered though as it is not a shrub that I enjoy, certainly not in the position that it has chosen to grow - maybe I will just move it, before it gets too big! The thermometer still said -5°C and our cat Esmi, was waiting by the back door. She is a barn cat and generally chooses to be outside but this morning a quick warm by the Rayburn seemed to be the order of the day, I know just how she feels!