Skating on thin ice

Today’s guest picture shows a cycle track on an old railway leading to Melbourne.  Although my brother Andrew, who took the picture earlier this month, was in Melbourne, Australia not long ago, this Melbourne is in Leicestershire, England.

Approaching Melbourne in Leicestershire, bridges became more frequentIt was a fine sunny morning when we got up and the dogwood in the back border was ablaze with colour.

dogwoodHowever, things were not plain sailing and I received two visitors during the day.

Lorne and SueThe first visitor, seen on the left, was Bob the Yorkshire terrier who had come in the morning to warn me against walking because of the slippery conditions of the roads and pavements. This was sound advice which I took.

It was below zero and the birds looked chilly as they came to the feeder.

blue tit and robin
A blue tit and a robin

However, by the time that the second visitor, Sue, my recorder playing and choir singing friend on the right,  had arrived, the sun had done just enough work to make a walk not too risky.

Sue had come to lunch and Mrs Tootlepedal provided home made soup, fresh bread and cheese and one of her delicious caramel custards for the occasion.   After such a feast, a walk was a necessity so we wrapped up well and ventured out.

The feeder was a much more sunny place by now…

flying chaffinches…and where the sun had shone, the road surfaces were reassuringly ice free.  After a careful plod up the sheltered and still slippery road outside the house, we hit dry tarmac and strode out merrily towards the Auld Stane Brig.

There was plenty to look at as we went along.

gate frost
This may look like the icing on the cake but is just frost on a gate.
moss with frost
Where the sun had shone, the frost had melted.
Where the sun hadn’t shone, there was a crystal forest.

The sharp eyed Mrs Tootlepedal noticed an odd phenomenon, high in the branches of a tree beside the road.

frost beardI had seen this before on a walk with Sandy and knew that it was ‘frost beard’ or ‘hair ice’ and that the weather we had today was perfect for its formation,  By co-incidence, a neighbour who was also on a walk came up to ask if we knew what it was.  He said that he had passed a lot of examples of it along Gaskel’s Walk.  We were just at the start of the walk, so we strolled along the track to see what we could see.

There were some very elegant frosty leaves, both dead….

dead leaves…and alive…

frosty leaves…and sure enough, there were many examples of beard frost or hair ice too. It generally occurs on dead branches and Sue picked one up for me to photograph.

hair frostIt is amazing stuff, soft and delicate to the touch.  It is formed when moisture is forced out of the host branch and freezes.  More moisture coming from behind forces the frozen hairs to elongate.  It is usually found on dead branches on the ground which was why it was very odd to have seen it first high up on a branch in a tree.

hair iceI can only assume that the branch is dead even if it is still attached to the trunk.

We didn’t go far along the path as we thought it might be too challenging and icy for my safety so we turned and walked home along the road.

This was my longest walk so far and a cup of tea and one of Sue’s home made brownies was very welcome when we got back.

It was very nice to see Sue, with whom we have compost and cycling interests in common as well as singing and playing and we were sad when she left to go home.

Once again, with the light gone and the temperature dropping, we were happy to succumb to the lure of the arm chair and the telly though Mrs Tootlepedal did improve the shining hour with a good deal of embroidery and I found the energy to put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.

As it was a clear night, we popped out to see if we could spot the ISS but it was too low for us and was hidden behind our hills so once again, I had to make do with the moon.

moonA chaffinch in the sun is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

39 thoughts on “Skating on thin ice

  1. The frosty live leaves made a fabulous picture, no artist could have painted anything better in my view. Loved the moon too and glad you had a good walk despite the weather.

  2. The photo in today’s and yesterday’s too have been absolutely super. The landscapes yesterday and leaves today are especially beautiful and the hair ice is amazing. Good blogging!

  3. The frost photos are a pleasure to see. I’m not sure why but we haven’t seen more than one or two frosty morning here this year. There is a plant called frost weed that produces the same kind that is on your dead branches and I’ve always wanted to see it.

  4. Impressive! Even while recovering from knee surgery and getting around on a crutch, you still find some of the most interesting things to photograph, like the hair frost!

  5. I too am mesmerized by the frost pictures and have seen nothing like it anywhere. Our choices are limited pretty much to ice or snow. I also think everything just looks better in your part of the world.

  6. I’ll add my agreement with the comments about the amazing frost photos. We saw trees tipped by ice and backlit by the sun all along the highway yesterday. It was also quite lovely and would have been a good guest photo – IF I’d had a camera and hadn’t been passing at 100 kph . . . sigh.

  7. What splendid photographs. The hair ice is new to me, so it was very interesting to see it up close with an explanation.

  8. The beard frost and frosty leaves are beautiful and fascinating. I’ve seen nothing like that here. Best wishes.

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