The International Steam Pages

In the Bleak Midwinter, 2011

For convenience I have now grouped lifestyle illustrated features by topic:

This page is just one of several describing aspects of our '2011 new life', for earlier and later pages use the West Gloucestershire link above.

When you live in the Forest of Dean you soon learn to ignore the official weather forecast and just look out of the window. In December 2010, it was so cold that a ball valve in our attic froze with near disastrous consequences. A year later, we had barely been back from Penang for 24 hours when this greeted us when we pulled the curtains. An hour later there was more of the stuff coming down.

But being Britain, an hour later it had not only stopped but the clouds were clearing and soon afterwards it was so clear that there was nothing to do but put on the boots and get up the hill.

The snow was going fast, but the view to the Malvern Hills over Herefordshire and Worcestershire was wonderful.

Here is the view down to May Hill and the Vale of Gloucester from the hills to the west of Mitcheldean and here's a short lived friend

'Frosty the Snowman' was gone in no time and a few days later, despite the fact that it was the day of the Winter Solstice,  the temperature was back in double figures and what was forecast to be a dull day turned out to be anything but. After a lifetime of North Chinese winters where under the snow is unrelenting brown, only the lack of leaves on the trees betrays the season but the Old Man's Beard here is not in flower, it's the seeds that are left hanging.

This is my favourite Christmas sign and above the tress in the woods have lost their leaves allowing us to see out.

The hill top gorse was in flower and the pub with a view at Littledean Hill was open as expected:

It was so warm that coats, gloves and bobble hats were redundant and the primroses were in flower about two months early...

The Severn here is tidal and compared to our previous visit there was very little water in the river.

Originally we planned to take the bus back, but it was still so glorious that we walked back on the west side of the hill to keep the benefit of the sun. Next day it rained non-stop, of course, this was yet another example if ever it were needed of grabbing life's opportunities immediately they come up. 

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson