We had another bright and sunny day on Thursday but it was bitterly cold outside with an offshore wind making it feel that much colder. Despite the weather I got myself ready to take a walk, yes, you guessed it, down toward the beach. Brave as I am as far as the cold weather is concerned even I had to admit to feeling uncomfortable as I plodded along through the sand dunes trying to steer clear of the biting wind. All along the coast hereabouts we have sand lizards and Natterjack toads ( http://www.countryfile.com/days-out/natterjack-toads-southport-lancashire ) both of which are protected species. In among the dunes there are areas called ‘slacks’, wet places, as well as large ponds which are dotted between the dunes. These are the breeding grounds for the toads, not that I saw any toads of course as they would be hibernating out of sight until Spring. The lizards are even more inconspicuous, even in Summer. As I walked along I noticed the surface of the ponds were partly frozen in places showing just how cold it really was. The air temperature at that time was around 3 or 4 deg C but the wind-chill factor made it feel nearer zero. The ground is often frosty at this time of year despite the higher air temperature. Although there was some shelter from the wind it nevertheless made its presence felt. I walked perhaps a mile in total through the dunes and decided it was too cold there so I moved away from the shore to more sheltered places. I don’t usually feel the effects of the cold weather when I am wrapped up in suitable clothing and although I wear a skirt my legs never seem to feel cold. I wear thick knee-length stockings which I let drop to my ankles and my walking boots and it is enough. However my hands can get cold even though I may be wearing fleece-lined gloves. The main problem is the wind. If it isn’t windy, which is very rare in Southport, the coldness is less noticeable. I might have been a little tired on Thursday morning but I cut my walk short and returned home after only an hour.
Yesterday I spoke about the rough weather we had on Monday morning and the fact that I wanted to go into town to buy some things. During my average week I cannot get into town in the morning for I am usually at work so when a day comes along where I have no work I like to take the opportunity. However, I didn’t much fancy going out in the rough weather but did so late in the morning because the forecast was for sunshine and by the time I left the house it had indeed started to get brighter. I didn’t wish to walk the whole distance there and back as on my return journey I would be carrying more weight so I decided to take the van and park it in my usual place just outside the parking metre zone. It still meant I would have to walk about half a mile but that is far better than the mile and a quarter it would have been (one way) if I was carrying bags of shopping. By the time I had parked the van the sun was out though it was still very windy. I had walked a matter of 200 yards and hailstones began to fall in the high driving wind. I took shelter at a bus stop and waited for it to subside. About five minutes later it had stopped but the wind was relentless. Fortunately the wind was blowing in the same direction I was walking but I knew I would have to walk into it on the way back. At last I was in the shopping precinct and in the warmth of the shops. Soon I had all my shopping done and I set off back to the van. The wind was biting and full on in my face. I was well wrapped up for walking but there is no protection against the wind on your face unless you wear a mask! I saw a young man wearing exactly that. It took the form of a skull and looked a bit spooky but I guess he couldn’t care less, his face must have been warm. Finally I reached the van and was glad to get out of the wind. The sun was ‘cracking the flags’ as they say but the wind took away any warmth the sun was providing. I just threw everything on the passenger seat and drove off but not for home, not just yet. I made a detour to the pub and had a hot meal. I had skipped breakfast for I had it in mind anyway to eat out somewhere. Once home again I packed away my shopping and had a restful afternoon but later decided to do a spot of baking as we were out of fresh home-baked scones.