Today, Wednesday 20 March, is the day of the Vernal Equinox, or the first day of spring to you and me. Although you might not know it by stepping outside or looking out the window, that means that winter is officially over and so too – until the next time that the weather gets colder and the nights get longer at least – is Norfolk Winter.
A low sun over Castle Acre Castle creates a stunning winter scene. Credit: Nick Ford
Those of you who have followed us from the start will know that we’ve aimed to cover a wide range of winter related advice, activities and information, from Christmas meals to grey seals and from snowstorms to how to keep warm.
So for our final post we thought we’d do a bit of a round-up to paint a picture of this winter in Norfolk. And do keep reading on down to the bottom because we also want to know what you think of our blog and what we should do in the future. There’s even a nifty poll that you can fill in.
We like to ‘big up’ our county where we can here at Norfolk Winter and it really isn’t hard when we’re surrounded by the natural beauty and wonders that help make Norfolk what it is.
Taking a boat trip out to Blakeney Point gives you the chance to see hundreds of seals like this one. Credit: David Ian Roberts
Even during our prolonged winter (come on April, we’re counting on you!) there are lots of places to visit and things to see in Norfolk’s great outdoors that really are stunning. So far we’ve talked about the spectacle of the pink-footed geese and we’ve given you some ideas for where you can go for a scenic walk but we haven’t yet mentioned the hundreds of critters with flippers that live off the north Norfolk coast.
The North Norfolk Coast team of the National Trust is responsible for the welfare of a thriving colony of seals at Blakeney and they’ve got the lowdown on how you can get out there to see them and why, if you like cute young seals, now is a great time to do so.
During the January snow one thing became abundantly clear to us at Norfolk Winter HQ – that many of you have a lot of respect and admiration for the people who grit the roads in the county.
While a lot of people found the 10 days or so that we had thick snow and ice on the ground very difficult, and some people didn’t think everything was done perfectly, the vast majority of the comments about the gritter drivers that were received on the Norfolk County Council Twitter account and the Norfolk Facebook page were full of praise.
- Peter Willimott from Holt, who has been with the highways team for 31 years.
They were so lovely in fact that we decided to come over a bit Blue Peter and bundled them up into a scrapbook to give to the gritters. We cut and stuck more than 60 comments, all received since the snow came down in the middle of January, and we may not have managed to get them all.
We took a trip to the Aylsham highways depot yesterday to present the scrapbook to Peter, Gill, Joe and Liam, four of the gritting team who are based there. While we were there we sat down and had a chat with them all, as well as their manager Jason Glasspoole, about their work and how they manage in the wintry weather. This is how the conversation went…
Snow and freezing temperatures have made it difficult for all of us this winter and the Met Office is predicting that there may be the return of a little more snow and the odd minus number popping up on thermometers during the week.
Bobble Day is coming on Friday. Get your bobbles (which come in a range of colours) for a suggested donation of just £1. Credit: Howard Lake.
Cold weather can make life particularly unpleasant, and even dangerous, for Norfolk’s vulnerable older people. However, on Friday everyone can help raise awareness and money to help make sure no one goes cold. Age UK Norfolk will explain exactly what it’s all about.
As we get older, our bodies respond differently to the cold – increasing the likelihood of a heart attack, stroke and pneumonia.
26,000 people die every year in the UK because of the effects of the cold weather and nine in 10 of those are older people. Last winter over 2,000 older people died due to the cold in the east of England alone.
Clearly it just isn’t right that so many older people suffer as badly as this purely because they don’t have the kind of heating that many of us simply take for granted.
This year at Age UK Norfolk, a warming winter fundraiser gives you the chance to help people who can’t afford to help themselves.
Are we the only ones slightly relieved at the current rainy weather? While a certain interest in snow and ice goes with the territory on this blog, it is nice to see some greenery and not have to worry about freezing temperatures for a while.
A road that’s seen better days (though this isn’t in Norfolk we might add!). Credit: Gregory Williams
But with the thaw another problem may be becoming apparent – potholes.
One of the most common ways that potholes are created is by ice forming in small cracks in the road. Water expands as it solidifies, forcing the cracks to widen and the surface to become uneven. On roads these continue to widen as vehicles travel over them and chip more of the top surface off.
So after the big freeze we experienced earlier this month, some of our roads may have suffered a bit.
Over the last few years, if we mentioned the word tweet most of you would think of followers, trends and #norfolkwinter (we hope!) sooner than bird noises.
The chaffinch is one of many birds you might spot during the Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend. Credit: Andy Hay
But that could all change this weekend, when birdwatchers will be out in their thousands. This winter’s been a particularly good one for twitchers in Norfolk, with birds flying into back gardens in search of food because of the cold weather (keep reading to the bottom for more on that…).
That’s why the RSPB in the East is expecting a bumper winter for bird spotting for their annual Big Garden Birdwatch. It’s just one of many events they’re putting on about our feathered friends this weekend, as they explain.
Every year for one weekend only, the RSPB hold their Big Garden Birdwatch, where people across the UK can take part in the world’s biggest wildlife survey, and once again we’d like you to be a part of it.
Last year 15,000 Norfolk residents went outside for a spot of twitching and it doesn’t matter whether you’re at home with the family, with classmates at school or with friends in the beer garden of the local pub; so long as there are birds around you can get involved in the Big Garden Birdwatch 2013.
Can anyone remember what Norfolk looked like before it turned white? After so many days of snow on the ground we’re beginning to forget – and there may be a little more to come overnight.
A back garden in Norwich this afternoon showing just how much snow the city has had. Credit: JasonBrown2013
The Met Office has issued a warning for ice and snow for the rest of the day, although we shouldn’t experience the kind of heavy snowfall that we had last night. Generally snow is expected to be light, with sleet showers looking possible in coastal areas. It will be cold tonight though, which will lead to patches of freezing fog forming and icy conditions, particularly on untreated surfaces.