March 20, 2020

Snippets & Snapshots | Winter

With spring now here, it is time to look back on the season that has been... With everything going on in the world at the moment - such uncertain times - it is rather bittersweet reflecting back on this time before, to be honest. Anyway, here is our winter.

The start of winter is always largely centred round Christmas – with the run up occupying a lot of time & prep, before being able to enjoy the day itself. Our decorations were up a little later than usual this year – due to some DIY work being completed in the living room – however other than that the Christmas season ran without a hiccup. Christmas lights viewed, presents bought (& gratefully received), cards sent, the Christmas concert at school seen, family visits had, new Christmas films enjoyed & old ones revisited, and Alexander going to his very first pantomime with school... That was just the run up! We spent Christmas Eve & Christmas Day just the three of us, and as usual, that was a lovely relaxing time spent just how the three of us like it.  Memories made & treasured. Nathan was able to take the entire week of Christmas which was nice, and meant we were able to bask in that after Christmas lull as opposed to rushing back to routine.

After the week of Christmas we still had another week of school holidays, these were full of Lego building, canal walks, watching nature documentaries, den building, visiting Dippy on Tour for the second time, drawing, puzzle making, woodland walking (in which Alexander took us on a dinosaur adventure to find his dinosaur friends), a mini shopping trip into Cardiff (the three of us this time), reading, and of course seeing in the new year. 2020 is now here!

The first week of the year got off to a wonderful start wildlife wise, with us spotting a kingfisher & a heron in the same week. In the time we have lived here we have experienced seeing both of these birds previously, however I always delight at the sights of them as they are quite a rarity to spot.

Adding to the bird list of wildlife, mid January we also repeatedly heard an owl calling on a number of nights... We did try to investigate a little, with suspicions of the owl in question being in a big tree that sits opposite our house, however we never did actually see the owl itself. 

January was a rather dreary month weather wise, with a lot of rain, fog and storms, however there was a break one weekend mid month and we took this opportunity to have a wander along the canal path, walking up to the troll bridge. The day itself was rather brisk, with a thick frost covering the roofs that morning, however the sky was a clear blue and the sun shine felt rejuvenating to the skin... And evidently we were not the only ones who felt this way, as the canal path was bustling with the general public – walking groups, cyclists, joggers, and dog walkers – with many ‘mornings’ being received and extended. It was a lovely morning walk, with some wonderful nature sights being spotted: a heron, sheep, ducks, the sounds of little bird calls, beautiful reflections on the water, and stunning sunshine highlighting autumnal amber colours in some of the leaves still clinging on. It was one of those walks where you feel you can breathe, y’know.

A little thing that I really want to remember & treasure from month of January is Alexander making his very own book – of course I helped him with the hole punch & string, but he came up with the idea of making a book all on his own and did all the drawing and writing inside individually. He is quite creative, loves books & reading, and also the topic of animals (he could talk all day about them and I just love the enthusiasm and joy on his face when expressing about animals), and so the topic of his book was animals in the Amazon. This was the first of many such book creations.

The weather situation didn’t improve as February rolled around – with even more severe storms arriving; two weekends in the month were spent nearly entirely at home due to this. 

The first storm (Storm Ciara) saw us with weather warnings for both rain (yellow) & wind (amber), and caused havoc. The wind, in particular, was wild (as you’d expect with an amber weather warning), and we actually had items in the garden (that should have been well & truly secure) that ended up halfway up the alley behind our house, as well as losing tiles from our roof, and having a fair amount of water leak through the back door. Although affected, our issues were minimal compared to others up & down the country – we were very lucky, and are thankful for this.

After a week of more rain, we were then anticipating another storm for the following weekend – Storm Dennis this time. Here where we are, we were predicted warnings for both rain (amber) & wind (yellow) again. By Saturday afternoon the storm had arrived with force, with the wind being of the kind that rattles the house and keeps you awake. The weather continued overnight (as predicted), and on Sunday we learnt of a red weather warning for rain being in place for the morning time here in South Wales and also flood alerts. The red weather warning isn’t often used, and in this case, a huge rainfall meant that many rivers and such had significantly raised overnight, as well the amount of rain causing smaller floods also. A major incident was declared in South Wales, with flooding & landslides causing devastation in a number of places. Thankfully, our local rivers did not overflow, but there were a few floods in towns & villages locally. Once again, other than a short power cut, we were unaffected by the storm and are grateful for that. 

The everchanging, but largely destructive, weather continued all throughout the month of February, running into the February half term. We spent a large portion of the week off school cocooned indoors, hibernating from the wind & rain, however we did visit the library during this time and go to the cinema with my sister & nephew also (we saw Spies in Disguise, which both boys loved).

As I mentioned in the opening of this post, it has been an interesting experience writing up this post and reflecting on this time, when so much has changed and there is such devastation worldwide now what with COVID-19. For us, this really took hold in the UK early March (as I remember, honestly, I feel like a year has passed in the short time of March we have already had)… And by took hold I mean cases of infection on the rise, and COVID-19 being on everyone's lips, news feeds, and social media also. 

Currently, we are all three fine, however we have been in self isolation since Saturday 14th March, due to Alexander developing a new & continuous cough (here in the UK guidelines state that you are to self isolate with this, or a fever - initially this was for 7 days, but rose to 14). The guidelines mean Nathan has to self isolate also, and we are very thankful of the fact that he is able to work from home still (though he is finding it harder than being at work!). There is so much going on, with things constantly changing, and new measures being put in place all the time. 

I won't lie, I am worried - for family here in Wales, those in London, especially my loved ones who fall into the vulnerable categories at a higher risk. I am also worried for those beyond my circle of loved ones, in particular the elderly within society. Now is a time for us to come together as a society, however it is very plain that there are a select number who have no intention of this.

School's are closing here in Wales, with children being home for the foreseeable future, and so the shift of moving to home educating Alexander is a whole new thing also. This is a time in life where we have to adjust though, and make changes, in the hope of the infection slowing - we all have a part to play.

To anyone reading this, take care.


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