Most of my favourite recipes originate from my childhood, like creamy rice pudding with the skin on or Lancashire Hotpot, both made by my mother and served with great aplomb. To my great sadness Continue reading “The Singular Pleasure that is Homity Pie”
It’s always the anticipation that gets to me. The thought that we might have snow at Christmas or in the early part of the New Year. If it snows, the excitement that we may snowed in. Listening and watching the news and social media with their gloomy prognostications, the sense of anticipation grows.
No matter that it may cause massive problems for those needing to reach their workplaces; for those who are farmers with crops or livestock to consider; for those on errands of mercy (and I do appreciate that for those people there are real issues). For me as for many others, snow does not lose its fascination, bringing back memories as a child and young adult playing in the snow; with the snowballs and snowmen and frosted windows.
Even when working in Tottenham in the 1980’s when there was several weeks of snow and ice one year, I tottered round on my heels from one visit to another on the icy side streets, revelling in the challenge of keeping upright. I was younger and a lot more reckless then.
Now, living in Devon, I had not expected snow this year so close to Spring. Our first year here had been quite mild compared to the south east of England where we were previously. I could understand Dartmoor having snowfall as it is a lot higher, but not in the area where we now live.
Then the news and the weather forecast turns their focus to Devon – a red alert no less! There will be heavy snow and blizzards here. And my heart begins to sing.
Waking up last Thursday morning and eagerly looking out of the window, I could see no snow. By the time I ventured out to get my daily paper, the first sprinkling of snowflakes had begun. Gentle and hesitant, it began to change the colour of the pavement and gardens to a monochromic colour.
The breeze blew small clouds of flakes away flying into the air again and as the cars go by; white spirals like dust devils form, then disappear. The whole area seems quiet and subdued. But this is just preparation for the major show.
There is a break.
Then slowly, gradually picking up speed and without stopping, the snowflakes flow. If it was rain, it would be noisy but there is a dampening down of all noise. And the level of the snow begins to rise. At home, looking across to where the moor should be, I can see nothing; they are blocked from view with this continuous moving veil.
We go to bed at night with the snow continuing and wake up to a blanket of the white stuff. Walking to the village store, not anticipating a paper (and so not disappointed either), I notice that the road is so quiet for that time of day. The walk is fun, the snow being a blank sheet to place my boots upon (and to sink through).
The rest of the day is spent just looking out at our gardens in the front and rear looking for activity and wondering how long this three to four inch depth of snow will last.
A news broadcast tells of another change. We are to have freezing rain, something I’d never heard of before. I had seen freezing fog some years ago and I wondered how this was going to change things.
The following day on another trip to the village store (but really just to enjoy the weather), I found a difference in the snow as I walked. Whereas the day before, it was almost soundless, Saturday’s snow was crunchy and more difficult to walk through. And there were more people out for a walk, enjoying the day’s challenge. The other effect of the freezing snow could be seen on stationary vehicles. They seemed to be encapsulated in ice in a wavy pattern. And not just vehicles, as our conservatory windows had the same pattern and couldn’t be seen through.
Looking out of the window, we saw a few birds that we hadn’t seen before. We found out that they were red wings, a type of thrush. They kept us entertained for most of the day with their antics.
But all things end. And slowly rising temperatures together with more rain (not freezing this time) brought about a thaw. On my way to church on Sunday, I could see the snow had changed colour from white to a dirty brown, the amount slowly dying away. In its stead, the brilliant green of the fields appeared. Until next time.
A year ago, on the 31st March 2016 to be precise, my husband, Jessie – our dog and myself embarked on what was, for us, the biggest adventure we have ever had together. We moved from the south east, from East Sussex to be precise, all along the south coast to the beautiful county of Devon.
For us it was a giant step into the unknown. I had previously lived in Cornwall from the age of ten to twenty three years of age and had loved my time there. But this move was many years later and to a different county. Alan by contrast, had spent all his life in the south east, only having visited Devon on holidays.
We had talked about the possibility of a big move so many times and hesitated. It seemed such a enormous change and at our time of life, could we do it? :-). But we both believed that now was the time to do the deed or we would always be wondering whether it was a good step or not for the rest of our lives.
Twelve months later, I look back with a sense of wonder and delight. Our experiences have exceeded our expectations. And we are both aware that we have only scratched the surface of the places we can visit and the things we can accomplish within this area we now find ourselves.
This past year has been a time of meeting new people and making new friends; of getting to grips with a different doctors, dentists, vets and local authority; of joining new groups; and of bringing our new home kicking and screaming into the twenty first century, with gas being connected, a boiler and central heating system installed; and a complete refit of the bathroom and kitchen. And it would be most remiss for me not to mention, the sterling work Alan has carried out on the front and back gardens.
With everything being done in our new home, it has meant that our exploring of the area has been limited. What we have seen has charmed us and made us want to see more. We are looking forward to the warmer weather when we can visit different parts of the county and even explore Cornwall.
There are those who would say that it’s no big deal – we have only moved to a different part of the same country. For ourselves, we have noticed great differences, which I hope to expand upon further in future blog posts. Overall I am so thrilled we chose the Devon way.
I had no idea what to expect as we travelled down to Liverton in Devon, having that day completed the sale of our house in Sussex. The area we were to live in we did not know that well and, to be honest, had only been chosen following the failure of the purchase of a property in Buckfastleigh, our original area of choice.
Added to everything else, we were late getting to our new home to pick up the keys. So the estate agent had kindly given us instructions over the mobile phone as to where they were to be found.
So it was with these instructions whizzing around my brain that I climbed out of the car and stretched my stiff body before moving, only to hear these words behind me, “I take it you’re our new neighbours,” spoken in a broad Devon burr. Turning I saw an older man, short in stature, standing at the entrance to our new drive looking over at us, walking stick in hand.
Introducing himself, we discovered that he was our new neighbour, and before we had entered our new home, we had received an invitation to his house to meet his wife and to take tea, when we were settled.
Within a week, we had got to know all the neighbours (on each side, across the road and beyond the back garden) by name. For me, as one who can forget names so easily, I resolved to remember these ones. This involved me naming who lived in each property each time I walked up and down the road when walking our Border Terrier or when visiting the village store (much to Alan’s (my husband) amusement).
But the ‘community spirit’ went further than that. Within two days of moving in, the neighbour at the rear of our home came round with his chainsaw to help Alan cut up some of the tree stumps that needed to go. This same neighbour also took us out for a two hour ride around the area to show us the narrow lanes that Devon is famous for.
Vegetables have been given as well as helpful advice and recommendations for plumbers etc. to carry out works. Walks around the area with our dogs became rather extended as we talked with people we met on our way, who took the time to answer any questions we had and to tell us more about the area we had moved to. Even now, when Alan takes the dog for a walk in the morning, I can never be sure how long he will be, as these conversations still go on.
We were told by others when we mentioned how friendly everyone was, that as most of the people that lived here had moved in to the area over the past thirty years from different parts of the UK as well as from different parts of Devon,that people made the effort to get on with each other. Whatever the reason, it makes for an enjoyable beginning to our new life here. Or maybe, it’s just the Devon way.