‘Walk like a penguin,’ BBC presenters advised

Featured image: Carbis Water, a stream in the valley, a five minute walk from our flat, flanked by the rarest of winter dress.

Cogitation 9 / Saturday 3 March 2018   From green fields and early blooms to a spot-on Met Office forecast of country-wide heavy snows, ice and wind-driven blizzards–we’ve experienced it even in our remote big-toe-hold foot of south west Cornwall.

Grape Hyacinths visible on Sunday 25 February in a dry stone wall along Manor Drive, St Ives. The homeowners, Terry and Jean, in previous years have invited us in for tea. We hope to catch up with them again–and their garden.

“Arctic blast hits UK,” was the lead headline on Tuesday in the i newspaper. The Yellow and Amber Alerts covered much of Britain, with areas in Scotland, the east coast, Wales and even in the south west on Red Alert–the first ever winter weather-related Red Alert for Scotland..

It was a double whammy of what was called the “Beast from the East,” blowing in from Siberia, followed on Thursday by Storm Emma from the south.

The rarely used Red Alert means stay home, weather conditions are such that they endanger  life. People heeded the alerts, though, still, some thousands were stranded in the storms across the country.

People were advised to expect travel disruptions, to make only essential journeys, to check on neighbours and relatives and to report rough (out-of-doors) sleepers. The snowplows, gritters (sanders), emergency teams, tow trucks, and farmers with tractors were mobilized to help get traffic flowing again. A dad delivered their baby at the side of the motorway where he and his wife were stranded en route to hospital.  Emergency staff reached them moments later; all doing well. Many schools were closed in the latter part of the week; children found  empty streets for sledding.

The severe weather and challenging disruption brought out the best in volunteers who braved the wind, snow and ice to bring water and food to stranded motorists, open shelters, get workers to their hospital jobs, and look after others. Many heroic acts have been reported.

One elderly homebound woman was pleased at how neighbours and others had looked in on her to make sure she had food, medicine and heat. Her only complaint, she said with a laugh, was that no one had brought her any brandy.

Where we are in the far south west of Cornwall, the sun shone the first half of the week, though the cold penetrated as we walked out for lunch and grocery shopping on Tuesday.

Wednesday noon brought snow, heavy snow, something almost never seen in coastal Cornwall. We walked the short distance to the Carbis Bay Hotel for a turn in the snow, pictures, and lunch.

BBC presenters said to “Walk like a penguin” in the snowy and icy conditions. Take short steps, hold arms in an arc, swing your body slightly with each stride. Smile. We must have created quite a sight on Thursday as we walked to the Costcutter for newspapers and milk and a bit of fresh air. No traffic could deal with the ice and snow on our hilly streets. Children were sliding down the streets. Almost all melted by Friday morning.

Storm Emma wreaked havoc on the seaside train tracks at Dawlish in Devon County, driving  high tides with high winds. The tracks were washed out in 2014 and are not nearly as damaged as back then, but it will take a day or two to bring them back into service.

Company from Ontario and State College, Pa., were delayed in their arrival scheduled for Friday. They did make it to Plymouth late Friday night and, thanks to a experience as travelers and a fine sense of humour, have a lot to write home about. We’re looking for their arrival “home from home” today. Bravo! Niece Rachel Bender and her aunt Evelyn Pope arrived at 1pm today! They have many tales to tell, such as the branch line train not having a driver, so they came by taxi the last couple miles,

High tides, flooding, and frozen water pipes are now serious issues in parts of Cornwall. A number of towns, including St Ives, are under a water conservation alert because of burst water mains. South West Water is on the job to find and repair the mains. We’re fine at our flat at the moment. Spoken, with coffee in hand.

The long and the short focus on weather is that it was and still is serious–two severe weather conditions colliding across the country. The forecast is for rising temperatures, something we’ve already seen in Cornwall. The ice and snow are gone, though flooding is present in various parts of the coast and freezing rain is falling in various parts of the country. Transportation disruption is still an issue in many areas. Sunday is to show some sun. Onward!

Scenes from Wednesday noon and afternoon

Care for those sleeping rough

A rough sleeper’s home we passed last week on a circular trail around Truro. Some years ago we met the chap who cleaned up and was sleeping in this area.

St Petroc’s Society works on behalf of individuals who are homeless during the coldest winter months in Cornwall, helping them identify their support and housing needs, advocating for them and helping them access services. The volunteer-driven Society provides a night shelter in Truro. Groups and individuals across the country are responding to the need for shelter and food for the homeless and other vulnerable people.

‘Green’ Sunday, 25 February

A  wave of the arm welcomes us to Steeple Woods, next to Knills Monument, where we walked last Sunday afternoon..
Moss-covered trees, ancient stone wall, and even rocks “rock” in Steeple Woods.
We plan to lead a West Cornwall Footpaths Preservation Society walk through here in May.

Daffodils and bells welcomed us to St Anta and All Saints Church, Carbis Bay

According to Margaret Cartwright, her late friend, Iris Jordan, bought the daffodil bulbs, and the late Ivan Chapman planted them in the drystone wall along the front of St Anta and All Saints Church.

A week ago today

Men of St Anta prepared a fund-raising breakfast in the church hall on 24 February. We had a tasty egg and sausage/bacon bab (bun), and coffee or tea. I like the breakfast prayer: “For bacon, eggs and buttered toast, praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” Amen.

Local shots before and after the snow that took the country by storm

View from the grounds of Tregenna Castle, a holiday resort overlooking St Ives, our lunch choice on Tuesday.
27 February view out to sea from our patio. We’re looking for the time when we can sit out there for coffee or lunch.

A note on the week’s reading

The inclement weather has been ideal for doing more reading, including PILGRIMS IN THE KINGDOM: Travels in Christian Britain, by David and Deborah Douglas (Upper Room Books, Nashville, TN and the Bible Reading Fellowship, Oxford. 2004). One of the 16 chapters tells the story of John Wesley, who spoke of his spring 1738 Aldersgate experience as “I felt my heart strangely warmed.”

The founder of Methodism found his heart “strangely warmed” in a new encounter with God in that London setting.

David Douglas reflects, “Those who experience a first-hand conviction of God often seem to recognize the need for a framework that both supports and constrains them, that banks the fire lest, unchecked, it become wildfire. . . .  the more we depend on God, the more we need community and accountability. Jesus is the shepherd, but we are notoriously vagrant sheep,”

John Wesley gave more than 40,000 sermons, David Douglas wrote. He made many visits to Cornwall and Methodism spread among miners and others. John’s brother, Charles, wrote 7000 hymns. including Where shall my wondering soul begin?, and O for a thousand tongues to sing.

It’s a really engaging, reflective, surprising book. The other chapters are: Whithorn and St Ninian, Iona and St Columba, Lindisfarne and Saints Aidan and Cuthbert, St Margarets’s Chapel and St Margaret, Canterbury Cathedral and Thomas Becket, Norwich and Lady Julian, Bemerton and George Herbert, York and Margaret Clitherow and Mary Ward, Pendle Hill and George Fox, Olney and John Newton, St Beuno’s and Gerard Manley Hopkins, Pleshey and Evelyn Underhill, Coventry Cathedral, Oxford and C.S. Lewis, and Little Gidding and Nicholas Ferrar and T.S. Eliot.

These were people who lived their faith boldly. Their places, and others more personal to us, do shape our religious imaginations and feed our spiritual quest.

Onward! And pick up points from the penguins.


Marty and I ventured out on Wednesday to experience the rare snowfall that almost “never” comes to this subtropical Gulf Stream-moderated coast of Cornwall. The “Beast from the East” and Storm Emma brought a rarified brief cover.
Cornish-grown daffodils grace our table. We’re on tap to help pick daffodils for Mothering Sunday, 11 March.

One thought on “‘Walk like a penguin,’ BBC presenters advised

  1. Hello John & Marty,

    Glad you survived the Beast from the East as well as Emma! Enjoyed the photos. Thanks!

    Monty & Ginger



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