Tuesday, 24 January 2017
We've got Proper Winter here at long last.
Freezing temperatures (good) and freezing fog (less good). The birds are gobbling up all the food I put out for them. The sixteen-strong gang of Long Tailed Tits sat in the Apple tree at dusk last night watching me critically as I topped up the fat balls, and then gave me a good scolding when I didn't get out of the way fast enough. They are Bossy.
There are three Robins in the garden, all chasing each other and busy posturing. Feathers will fly before long. I suspect one at least may be a Scandinavian interloper so when he/ she returns there in Spring the other two may heave small sighs of relief and settle down to splitting territory amicably.
The green-striped Siskin flock have been here all week too, twittering and whistling and popping in the trees that line the lake. Occasionally two appear on the feeders and everyone else looks askance at them. They are rather exotic-looking beside the sparrows and dunnocks, but less gaudy than the goldfinches who are also here everyday, their wing splashes of canary yellow ear-marking them a little too well for the female sparrowhawk who slices through the garden every now and then on the off chance. I know when she's paid a visit because either there is a small, sad pile of feathers left neatly beside the feeders, or else an unnatural hush falls in the garden with everyone sitting deep inside the hedge whispering nervously until someone (usually the Nuthatches) sounds the all clear.
Ted and Pops are sporting winter coats which will last until March and their next appointment with Mrs D. Sadly, the fear of a cold shower in the garden and ensuing threat of wet fur failed to give Ted the necessary pause for thought it should have done when he considered rolling in Fox Poo on our walk this morning. There is a faint whiff of it hanging round the table as I type, despite a vigorous shampooing.
Pop has a particular perfume all her own as her coat grows. No matter how hard I try I can't find it in me to describe it as pleasant. She seems to be able to switch it on at will, like a skunk, and chooses to do this most often when she's lying on the sofa of an evening beside me. I am beginning to understand why Ted is happy to remain by the fire and has eschewed all offers of sofa sharing made in recent evenings.
Parkrun on Saturday was hopeless. I was determined to break the 22 minute 5k but despite running myself ragged still came in at 23.06. Exactly the same time as last week. I took B from Coastal Ripples order of FOCUS seriously (it really did help) but still couldn't break the time. It was absolutely freezing, my face felt numb most of the way round and to be honest it wasn't a particularly enjoyable experience. Those wiser than me said the ice cold weather slowed everyone - lungs just can't work at full capacity when it's minus something. Even M was ten seconds slower than usual. I realise if you aren't a runner all this talk of seconds must sound pedantic, but seconds make all the difference and it is hard to knock them off your time when you're running close to your limit, or (as it turns out), the weather is freezing.
I felt disheartened by it but cheered up the next day by having a pleasant steady trot round the lanes and fields with the doggies. Next weekend it's the Stonehenge Stomp, 20k round Salisbury Plain with views of the ancient Stones. Let's hope the temperature rises just a little. I read in the paper details of the proposed tunnel, it's been ear-marked to cut straight through a very ancient indeed site which has yet to be fully studied. Seems to me wherever you cut the land on Salisbury Plain you risk damaging important archeology. I don't have a solution.
We went to my ma in laws artists' group sale over the weekend and came home with two paintings. I haven't bought any artwork for ages but have been looking for some new work. Both paintings got to me and I knew I'd have to bring them home or would forever more regret it. So they're up in the sitting room and I smile whenever I look at them.
The first one changes with the light; the colours darken and deepen by a few shades in evening and the lights seem to come on in the houses. Lord knows how the artist achieved that. For a winter scene it's mighty cosy.
The second one was painted by a man whose father was a member of the Royal Academy and his style is said to be similar. It's a scene somewhere in Northumberland, that wildest of counties.
At the tail end of last year I decided to enrol in a Counselling course and this week we've been looking at how body language affects people. There is a very interesting Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy (sorry, on a new computer (got the Mac!) and can't work out how to put the link in, but you'll find it if you search Body Language Amy Cuddy Ted Talk) which looks at how posture affects the levels of cortisol and testosterone in the body. If you're feeling nervous, take two minutes to stand up straight with your hands on your hips and your head up- your testosterone levels will rise and your cortisol (stress hormones) will fall. She proved it by testing participants' saliva levels before and after they'd adopted power and introvert stances (the levels swapped for the introvert stances, with testosterone falling and cortisol rising). Fascinating, eh?
L has to give a speech for English this week on a topic of his choosing. He has chosen to talk about why the curriculum should have more modern texts. Rather dubious that he'd have enough to talk about to keep going for 5 minutes, we sat down together last night and jotted some ideas on prompt cards before he practised it. I was impressed. He was clear, spoke slowly and didn't repeat himself. I have advised him to nip to the loo five minutes before he's due to give the speech and do the Two Minute Power Posture, to boost his confidence. He has given up doing anything other than roll his eyes at me when I make suggestions now, possibly from long experience.
Hope everyone is warm and well.