Monday, 1 April 2013

Still no sign of spring....

If forecasters were right you have probably all experienced yet another coating of snow over the past week or so. So pristine and romantic, the pure whiteness that we all welcomed before Christmas but now greet with an exasperated sigh. It's Easter - it should be warmer. Even in places that are spared the most extreme quirks of weather, nobody will be bringing out the barbeque just yet. And this week's warning that the country's gas reserves are dwindling will only fuel our shivering despair as temperatures doggedly refuse to rise. Even for children the heady excitement and joy of sliding down hillocks on plastic sledges is beginning to pall. After you've done that, built another snowman and pelted your friends with a volley of wet missiles, what is there left to do? For birdwatchers the likelihood of hearing a cuckoo is rare - I think I heard the first penguin of spring this morning.

Winter 2013 has long outstayed its welcome and even with the equinox behind us there is precious little sign that spring will make its longed for entrance anytime soon. The long-range, short-range and mid-range forecasts all tell the same story - low single figures to minus values with no promise of a let up. For the umpteenth time this year its back to the bottom drawer to rummage for those thermal undergarments and a pair of thicker gloves. Spring refuses to be sprung. Trees show not the faintest sign of bursting into leaf. The handsome horse chesnut trees I see just down the lane, so often sporting sticky buds by this time of year remain quite bare. Conkers will be late this year. Hybernating creatures having emerged into an unwelcoming chill are reported to have turned tail and, understandably, gone back to bed - I don't blame them. Bed seems the best bet and my own lethargy is, I feel, entirely due to the cold snap.

This last weekend I did venture out on the bike. Even though I am struggling with a cold and breathing is hampered, the fact that my total mileage for March was well below 100 galvanised an effort in me that probably would have been best ignored. I woke to find the box balls still covered in a head of white snow and a thick frost covering the car - such a sight can only mean porridge for breakfast and a slow roasted leg of lamb for lunch - but first I decided to make an effort and get out for an hour. The roads are surprisingly clear and dry and the sun had made a welcome appearance - 15 miles would be good on a morning like this.

I set off on a well tried and tested route, and paused to take a few photographs (see below). My ride was okay - in fact I enjoyed it. It didn't feel cold although I was well insulated with at least half a dozen carefully selected layers. Unsurprisingly I didn't see a single other cyclist. In fact I saw no one at all the whole time I was out. The final 3 miles were all uphill and I struggled to get my breathing under control. My cold has left my nose totally blocked and my lungs feel filled with glue. When it was over I could feel a dull ache in my legs that remains as I sit writing this - probably due to my lack of miles. Our trip to Paris is looming now - less that 100 days away. The clocks have gone forward and the evenings are lighter - surely it will get warmer soon?

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