Saturday, 17 December 2011

Still icy

We had another full day today, so the poor pooches had to wait until nearly nightfall before I could get out with them today. Cath was off to work, so I had all three of them to myself. We set off to find that once again there was frost on the ground. The snow yesterday had not amounted to much, although there was a light covering on the garden this morning.

The snow clouds have all gone off to pastures new, leaving relatively clear skies with some cirrus level clouds to add a bit of interest to the sky. I don't think that the temperatures have been much above freezing today, although I did find evidence of thawing and then refreezing, as you will discover.

Very early on we had an unusually noisy encounter with a pair of huskies. We were just minding our own business when they appeared down the road and started barking loudly and excitedly. A&R decided to bark back at them. Holly, normally as good a barker as any, kept out of it. There was a big gap between us so there was no opportunity to sniff and make up, so as far as I know that is unfinished business.

Dog owners seem happier about their dogs meeting other dogs in warmer weather, I've noticed. in cold weather we all want to just get around and get back home. The dark seems to make us additionally withdrawn and suspicious, so we don't tend to talk to each other as much as we would otherwise.

The Bridge of Food had a couple of chips swimming in curry sauce at one end which I spotted before Holly could make a bee-line for. I was able to direct her away from the scraps of food before she could zone in on them but she clearly spotted them and even Rover tried to scuttle over to give them the once over. Once past this distraction I had to keep all three dogs in control while coming down the ramp which was even more treacherous than yesterday. Somehow with all three leads in one hand and the other on the rail, and I got Amazon to behave to the point where I did not end up on my bum thanks to an over-eager Amazon. The ice was worse than yesterday, even though the snow had gone. It was obvious that where the sun had been out the snow and ice of yesterday had melted but when it ran into shaded areas it had refrozen, causing larger areas of ice. However I kept my feet and the Bridge of Food faded into the distance.

I was into the Dene before I realised that I had not  brought a torch. Thankfully all three dogs had donated prodigious amounts for the bins of Newcastle, so there was only one additional call of nature for Holly and she was accommodating  in stopping where I could see quite clearly how much she had done and where it lay, so the offending article was bagged and binned.

The ice on the upward path kept my eyes pretty much to the ground as I walked out of the Dene, so I was pleasantly surprised at the top to discover a glorious winter sunset over Blaydon. The sun itself was out of sight but there was a bar of orange-gold light along the horizon and one of the planets (probably Venus) was in attendance, bright and beautiful in the sky above the horizon.

At about the same time I became aware that there was a lot of ice over part of the area that the Council have put drainage in. It would seem that their measures are fine for dealing with liquid water but no match for water that freezes as it flows, so the ice was still accumulating. Thankfully I wasn't so lost in the beauty of the sunset and the early night sky that I lost my footing. I found myself a nice bit of grass to stand on and had a quick scan of the sky. A few faint stars were appearing at the zenith but my attention was caught by a bright star high above the horizon. I drew a quick line between it, the Evening Star and the point on the horizon where the sun had disappeared and concluded that this was another planet, probably Jupiter. I did not linger to enjoy this fine sight however as it was a bit parky.

We passed a young man on the path towards the lower bridge but he had his head down and hurried past with barely a glance at the dogs. Just like yesterday, R&A seemed only half interested in their last minute sweep of the Dene as I walked up the path and they came as soon as I called. They don't have very thick fur and I think their comfy corners at home were calling to them as much as they were to me. We passed three people walking a labrador but as I observed earlier, they were not interested in social contact. That left a slightly more confident crossing of the Bridge of Food (avoiding the chips at the end again and a return home.

Just had a quick look on an astronomy website - I was right about both planets!

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