Thursday, 30 December 2010

Green grass and Hexham

We're back to normal English winter weather.
The snow has just about gone, and the river
is no longer frozen but is running high and thick
and brown. The temperature is 4 degrees C,
damp and still. We went to Northacomb Farm Shop today, which sits high up on the ridge above the river. The snow was just starting to fall last week and the fields were still white from the previous dump. The pond was frozen, and everything glazed with frost.

Today, the snow has gone and the green fields are back on show. Not as bright and lush as they are in summer, but green nevertheless. Muddy and wet where the animals trudge about near gates and drinking troughs, and no doubt skiddy if you try and walk over them. In other fields, winter wheat is shooting, brave spears pale and green above the cold brown soil.

Its always reassuring to see the green when the snow melts. As if all is right with the world, somehow. One or two plants get frosted and die, but on the whole everything copes remarkably well with the cold and snow. Misty weather may not be particularly nice for being outdoors, but it makes for wonderfully atmospheric photographs. You cannot see Hexham in this shot below, but it is there, I assure you, lurking in the valley behind the two trees. We encountered a massive two lane traffic jam about half a mile from the roundabout into Hexham, and it took us an age to creep up the hill and turn down again towards the bridge over the Tyne and into Tesco beyond.
We thought the world had gone mad and couldn't wait to rush into the supermarkets to stock up because the shops would be closed for uh, maybe a whole day. As if, with freezers and fridges at our disposal, we cannot manage to last two days without new stocks. Anyway, we crawled down to the bridge where we found temporary traffic lights set up.
And all because two paving stones on the footpath had been lifted and removed. No workmen present, no explanation; red and white barriers around the area, managing to take up half of one lane of the road as well as the pavement, and therefore requiring only one lane across the bridge to be in use. No wonder there was a traffic jam. Hexham was in chaos, with half the town jammed solid and the other half like a ghost town.
We grumbled to ourselves in the car as we whizzed on into Tesco. Which lunatic in the town council had ordered the work to start at this precise time, and then allowed the workmen to leave the job half done while they disappeared home and put their feet up? Whoever s/he may be, may you too get stuck - not once, but several times - in your own creation.

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