Goodbye, beard!

Goodbye, beard!

Tonight I shaved off my beard. It was a sad moment and one I’d mulled over for a while. I like having a beard, especially when, like today, the weather’s freezing and sleet is pounding down.

However, beards, like long hair, are high maintenance, and I’m not that sort of bloke. As such, my beard grew without the use of oils, balms and snips. It grew strangely and thicket like.

I couldn’t bring myself to go down to the bare skin, so I left a bit…. Perhaps next winter I’ll try again. Or, I’ll just forget to shave…

The painting behind me, an abstract diptych, is an oil on canvas I’ve done as part of this year’s series. Stay tuned for when I can get an exhibition together (after I sort out my motorbike).

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Storks in nest

Storks in nest

For me, there are four signs that Spring has truyly arrived, two of which I witnessed today, and all are from birds. The return of the storks, house martins, cuckoos and golden orioles means that summer is not far distant. Today I saw a couple of European white storks (Ciconia ciconia) preparing their nest and I heard the first golden oriole of the year somewhere in the trees at the bottom of my garden.

I’m lucky that the first stork i saw this year was last week and it was flying overhead as, according to tradition and superstition, seeing your first stork as it sits in its nest means that you’ll have a baby.

Sandy has a visit from rescued dogs

Sandy has a visit from rescued dogs

My Jack Russell, Sandy, was ecstatic today to have a visit from a brother and sister pair who are still puppies. My wife’s cousin’s husband found them abandoned at the Polish border and brought them home. They’re a very mixed breed pair but they’re very sweet.

I hate it when people just dump their dogs by the side of the road. A dog is utterly dependent on its owner and is part of the family. Its entire universe is its owner and their family. To be dumped and abandoned is soul destroying. Now my town is filled with small dogs, mainly Maltese terriers, most of which have been bought as Christmas presents for some kid who gets bored with them after a few months of having to take them out 3 times a day regardless of the weather. I expect many of these fashionable presents will end up dumped also.

Spring remnants of Winter

Spring remnants of Winter

Still the grass and bushes are bleak, with the remains of bird-eaten berries decaying on the twigs. The blue skies have gone and the overcast has returned, making it feel more like late Autumn again – especially following the snow shower last Sunday.

I really hope Spring kicks in proper at some point.

Spring flowers

Spring flowers

The first wild flowers have begun growing in the garden following Winter. Sadly, no snowdrops or crocuses or daffodils yet, but several little blue and purple ones (along with dandelions, daisies and buttercups).

Today we switched on the water and, thankfully, no pipe or tap had burst during the cold months. Now Spring has started there are many jobs about the house and garden which need attending to – this is always an expensive and labour intensive time.