“The Beast from the East”

Freezing cold weather in other words. Wind, straight from Russia “with love”. Boy was it cold, everything froze – yes I mean EVERYTHING!

We’ve already had a cold and snowy winter; December 27th brought our first real snow, enough to make snowmen and throw snowballs. Then a couple of weeks later, after everything had thawed below 500m, back it came with a vengeance, covering everything with a thick layer of the white stuff for several days – although, noticeably whilst everything slowed – nothing and nobody actually came to a grinding halt here on Skye. Mind you, I have to say, it has definitely been colder than previous winters since I have lived on here (2011 was my first winter on this Hebridean Island)

England suffered with blizzards and deep snow when the “Beast from the East” hit the UK – complete mayhem was the result, but here on Skye on the warmer west coast, we had no new snow, we just had ice…… and lots of it.

We had days where having a log burner was a real treat, all that concentrated heat – because whenever we poked our noses outside, the contrast in temperature was phenomenal. Minus 10 degs C and less, was nothing in the wee small hours and my weather station measured a wind chill of -5 degs C during the day.  I know that doesn’t seem madly cold but the sun was shining so that took the edge off it. The weather had been dry for a couple of days before the “Beast from East” struck so the ground was already dried out enough to freeze solid within hours.

Waterfalls froze, becoming huge works of art over night.Layers upon layers of ice formed as the waterfalls continued to flow. Even those in the forest, where you would think it would be sheltered, were frozen. Where water sprayed over branches and twigs, it formed beautiful ice sculptures. It was very cold but oh! so beautiful just for a few days.

What I did find interesting was the way that the new shoots of bulbs and spring flowers (Daffodils, Narcissi, Crocuses and Tulips) all ceased growing. They simply stopped until the ground thawed again when they resumed their ascent. Buds on my daffodils all ready to burst open didn’t unfurl, it was strange and bizarre and utterly, utterly amazing.

Now today, its warmer than it has been for a while, although we awoke to a frost. The sun shone, the birds sang and the air had an almost balmy quality to it by mid day. What a difference! In another month – four short weeks –  the grass will begin to grow, lambs will be born and birds will start nesting and raising their young. I wonder what sort of Spring we will have this year. The only way to find out?! Is to watch this space!

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