Saturday, January 3

Dur Hill '08: Better times are coming

Earlier today I came across a half scribbled piece, penned around this time in 2008. With the thermometer barely reaching 3°C during the past week it seemed timely to wake it from a long hibernation as a reminder of the inevitability of better times to come. Eventually.

(Ice - thick and multi layered)

As I turned off the car engine I caught sight of the temperature display .... 9°C .... the warmest it's been for a week or so. Lifting the estate's boot I let the solitary collie jump down to join me for Saturday's New Forest wander. I could feel a slight breeze on my cheek to confirm the wind shift promised by last night's weather report. No longer blowing from the cold east, now a benign south westerly. Herald of rain sometime during the next few days perhaps. For the moment a refreshing change after many outdoor sorties of chin hunkered deep down inside the neck of my fleece, that instinctive seeking of respite from the ever pervasive chilling.

I find it usually takes me 3 days or so to come to terms with very cold weather, probably due to the cocoon offered by centrally heated house and office, my main habitats at this time of year.

But today a weak winter sun brings respite to man and dog alike as we steer clear of the post Xmas chaos, specifically other walkers, for a private amble over familiar ground. Around the Dur Hill enclosure whose western edge can usually be relied on for some solitude at this time of year. Once a widely forested area the last few years have seen certain 'improvements' most noticeably removal of much woodland and scrub leaving large barren areas as a result. Other than this past human activity, such as RAF Sopley's radio transmitter building, have long since disappeared leaving the area with a feeling of remoteness despite its proximity to the nearby Bournemouth conurbation.

But a cosmetic pretence suddenly shattered as overhead a plane drones its throaty descent downwards to Bournemouth International Airport (strange naming for its Christchurch based location)

The lingerings of uninterrupted icy days have left a churned landscape to pick our way over. At times a solid unyielding ground, still glassy and insincere underfoot, as if walking on a concrete ice-rink. The path continues, and with its next twist detouring a clump of impenetrable gorse bush, comes endless pools of thick cloying black mud and water, leading between a tunnel of yet more gorse. Each pool with slick edges, treacherous to negotiate. Unless heavily mud spattered trousers, or worse an unexpected cold dip, is a preference.

No matter. This change in the weather brings with it a general lifting of spirits. Tremblings of warmer days to come. Softer times to savour.

Man & dog trudge onwards. A shared and renewed interest in all around.

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There's optimistic. There's a long way to go till the larks start singing again, though. And, to be honest, I'm quite enjoying this winter so far.... I'm hoping it stays nice and cold and sunny for a while yet (much hope!)
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