When we got home from our trip to Sedbergh, a blackbird was singing in the park – the first we’d heard so far this year. Then we heard the first ice-cream chimes of the new season. I thought these were two good signs that spring was definitely on its way, but when I told my big brother Weg, he had to spoil it by saying it’s not really spring until the farmer starts driving round the village on his tractor, towing a tanker full of poo to spread on the nearby fields.
Amazingly I saw him doing just that the very next day. Mum says it makes the grass grow tall and luxuriant and, providing we also get the right amount of rain and sun, allows the farmer to take at least three cuts of grass over the summer to feed his beasts and his sheeps next winter. But I wish he’d go and spread it in another village because I’m a little bear with a delicate nose and, not only does the poo smell horrible for a couple of days but it also makes me sneeze – and sometimes I sneeze so hard that I fall over, which is very undignified indeed!
But it turned out that me and my big brother Weg were being too optimistic when we thought spring was nearly here on the last day of February, because the smell of poo on the fields had only just left the village when Storm Eric arrived, bringing strong winds and lots of rain. In fact, Storm Eric was so fierce that me and Mum didn’t venture out of the door all day, even though it was a Sunday.
When we did go out on Monday morning, however, we got a really big surprise. As well as a few large twigs, some soggy cardboard and a broken For Sale sign in the middle of the street, there was a banana in the gutter right outside our front door. As our village isn’t well known for its banana plantations, I thought Storm Eric must have been powerful enough to have blown it all the way from somewhere like Jamaica and I was really impressed by that. But Mum said it was more likely to have fallen out of the dustbin which was rolling about further down the street. That was a bit more realistic, I suppose, but nowhere near as exciting…
Then on the following weekend Storm Freya came visiting. She didn’t seem as fierce as Storm Eric had been and so we ventured out for a walk – and got caught in a hailstorm on the way back. Mum said it really hurt when it hit her in the face and bounced off her head, but I didn’t believe her at first as I was snugly tucked up in her handbag. Then she made me get out and I soon realised that she was right. In fact, it hurt so much that I’d to pull my hat right down over my ears and run for shelter behind a plant pot until it stopped.
Though Storm Freya seemed less fierce than Storm Eric, she actually did more damage – but we didn’t know about it until the next morning when a neighbour came to tell us that, after being fixed to our chimney stack for the best part of 45 years, half of our old VHF radio aerial was hanging dangerously off the roof. Luckily we were able to get someone to come out straightaway and remove it, but it’s left our flock of starlings very confused as that’s where they used to gather to wait for Mum to go out and feed them and now there’s not enough room for them all to get on the half of the aerial that’s left.
To our relief, Storm Freya didn’t last long, but then Storm Gareth came shrieking and roaring around the village and so we stayed indoors again for a day or so. Then it poured with rain and we stopped in for another day – unlike the poor Mrs Sheeps at a farm in Wigglesworth, just a bit further up the Dales, who had to go out in it because their barn got flooded.
In many ways staying in has been a Good Thing for Mum, however, as it means she’s got on with her writing and – at last! – has almost completed When Daffodils Bloom. With only about 6000 more words to write, she’s right on target for launching it on August 1st as “A Yorkshire Romance For Yorkshire Day” and is already thinking of publicity for it.
As some of you will have seen in my earlier posts, the front cover – based on a lovely painting by the Lancashire artist, William Hobson – is already designed.
She’s also had this trailer made to give you some idea of what the story is about and we both hope that you’ll enjoy it.
I’ll be back next week with a Big Adventure, but, meanwhile, be glad that the next named storm will be Storm Hannah and not Storm Hazel, otherwise, if all Hazels are like my mum, it might have been more than a little bit turbulent!
Follow my next blog: 28: ON THE WAY TO BENINGBROUGH HALL