Morning Fire/Morning Snow

So guys, how are things in your corner of the world? I thought I’d share these photographs to give you a rough idea of how things have been in Jackdaw town.

A friend took this photograph early the other morning from our town, when the sun, striking one of the Deansgate towers in Manchester, made it look like it was on fire. Maybe a beacon for the dark days to come, a beacon to last until the Solstice.

But don’t be fooled by those polished, fiery flames, though, as the following will explain.

My son and I travelled to Congleton in Cheshire. Cold, cold Congleton, to watch our local non-league team play away. The day was bleak, the performance was bleak, the corner flag lay horizontal in the polar wind. But that’s par of the course for us. Typical British footballing weather, on a typical British footballing family’s Saturday.

Then the next day the snow came. I’m not sure if it was forecast but it certainly took me by surprise. And also my nosey daughter who, if you look closely, you will see peering out from behind those patio doors there.

I’ve been blogging now for nine years. So that’s nine winters, and anyone who has been flying with City Jackdaw for that timespan will surely have heard me mention before about how we live on a hill; how just a dusting of snow can see us cut off by all public transport; how one day we might have to resort to eating each other.

But not just yet. The season is still early and the freezer is fully stocked.

But everything else is as imagined. The first real snow managed to halt a bus right outside our house. The passengers disembarked to walk, the driver disembarked to stretch his legs.

And look at poor Clifford, will he ever make it home? Have you ever seen such a hopeless, hapless face?

Later in the day the sun tried to rally but, barring another weather phenomenon that’s not been forecast (heatwave) that car of my wife’s would be going nowhere. She hates to drive in snow, and as one who doesn’t drive, I can’t (and wouldn’t dare) blame her.

She went to bed fearing for the morning commute, the kids went to bed dreaming of the next day’s adventures, and I went to bed to arise early to spy a cold, lonely moon, shining down on the hardened snow. Although it wouldn’t remain for long. The snow, that is, not the moon, for that silent satellite will outlive all of us.

Claws For The Weekend: The Circus Doesn’t Come To Town

I took this photograph a few weeks ago in my town centre, just before nightfall.

It looks like the circus was in town. It wasn’t. Those gazebo-marquee thingies were put up to encourage people to still use the local cafés when Covid restrictions wouldn’t allow people to sit inside.

We do have a few clowns though.

Hope you all have a great weekend, juggling (😆) any commitments you have.

See you on the flip side.

Whenever I Lay My Hat

I met up for coffee on Friday with an old mate. Our roots go right back to high school. We were in the local Costa for five and a half hours! 9.00am to 14.30pm. That’s two meal times. I think it’s a hitting fifty thing.

There was a time in the past when we’d both have been hammered by spending that length of time together, in a pub rather than a coffee place.

However, I think this photo that I took of our caps, while he was getting served at the counter, is indicative now of our current stage in life

His umbrella had fallen just out of shot.

To Conker Her Fears

It was maybe an hour from dusk. A little girl was running ahead of her mother, kicking all of the yellow and brown leaves out of her way as she came.

“Where are all the conkers?” she asked me.

“Conkers?

“Yeah, there’s all these leaves but no conkers!” Her cheeks were red with either all of the running she’d been doing or the cold air. Maybe a combination of the two.

I gestured towards the bottom of the hill. “There’s a conker tree down there, on Wood Street. Right to the bottom then turn left.

She whirled around. “MUMMY!” She didn’t have to shout as her mother wasn’t really that far behind. “THERE’S A CONKER TREE DOWN THERE!”

Maybe her mother didn’t really need to hear that. I shrugged apologetically. “It’s about ten minutes away.”

She nodded her thanks and they went on their way. Or rather the girl did, speedily, and her mother followed the trail she left through the foliaged pathway.

That was one thing I missed. When my kids were primary age we used to pass the horse chestnut tree that I’d referred to on the school run, and at this time of year we’d forage for any fallen conkers along the way. Especially after a previous night’s storm.

But the kids are older now. High school age. When I was in high school conkers were still a thing. The playground was the battleground, and the more fair-minded (or more likely the naive) among us would come up against the devious cheats who had strengthened their conkers by baking them in the oven or coating them in nail varnish. Ways and means, with the assistance of conspiring adults.

That was in the days before the schools went on a health and safety overdrive and either banned them outright or insisted safety goggles had to be worn when playing.

So now they’re not a thing.

The last time any interest was shown in conkers in my house was when my daughter had come across the claim that spiders were scared of them. Before you could say show me the scientific proof there was a defensive line of them along her window ledge and more strategically placed upon her bedside cabinet.

They lasted until the night she encountered a spider that was big enough to juggle them.

Still The Seasonal Vibes: Three Photos

I took this first photograph while waiting for a funeral cortège, a funeral we couldn’t attend. The mother of a friend had passed after catching Covid, despite being jabbed. We’d spoke with her once in our town centre, not long after lockdown had ended, and she was afraid of catching the virus. Despite following all advice and taking all necessary precautions, she caught it and having underlying health issues sadly succumbed.

My wife and I were waiting the results of our own PCR tests and so couldn’t attend the funeral. But, with it being local, we wanted to stand at the cemetery gates, away from everybody else, to show our respects as the hearse and family cars arrived. As we waited in the car, sheltering from the rain, the wind scattered leaves across the windscreen and this one caught for a few seconds.

The dark day had persuaded the streetlight sensor that night was falling.

The smell of wet leaves, that mulchy, earthy smell. This bench, on the cemetery edge, was waiting for Spring to bring with it regular occupants, to maybe bask in early sunshine and watch the world awaken. It helps to think of cycles and the natural order of things.

It reminded me a little of the more famous, Autumn bench that those four Swedes once sat on. I’ve actually seen that bench in Stockholm. Perhaps this one would attract someone of equal renown. Perhaps it already had. Who but the bench would know?

Another day and another break in the clouds. My wife, son and I all received negative results, but my daughter tested positive and so she’s isolating. With my Mum living next door, unable to remain out of our home due to her Alzheimer’s, we are having to navigate all that.

So far so good.

We nipped into Middleton and, in the midst of a deluge, the sun came out and I took this photograph. It could have been better but I was too slow – by the time I’d got my phone out the sun was already slipping behind a cloud.

At this time of year, a time of change and lengthening shadow, you have to be fast to catch any light.