Jimper’s Jottings – February 2006


Winter on it’s Way Out

Another winter on it’s way out. Daylight is making its presence known, an hour extra light in the evenings since the shortest day. The Arctic weather promised us by the forecasters has failed to show. A couple of cold snaps lasting a few days and three days of horrid snow and that is it unless February holds a sting in the tail.

I like to see a good fall of snow every ten years otherwise a generation of youngsters miss the joy of playing in it. The pleasure that little kids get from making a snowman and getting their hands so cold they cry is an experience no child should go without.

The cold this year was nothing like the winters I remember from my childhood. I recall ice a foot thick on the ditches and dykes on the marsh and icicles hanging from the gutter to the ground. I even remember a winter so cold that our water tank outside froze solid and we had to walk to the bottom of Winchelsea Hill to fetch drinking water from the well at Spring Steps. Now that very well is never full and sometimes, during the summer, completely dry. That winter my father’s brother was with us and he could not believe we did not have mains water,
I think the year would have been 1947.

In 1962/63 we had a real Arctic winter. The ground froze over in November and on Boxing Day as it got dark, the snow arrived. It continued to snow on and off for a month, there were drifts 12′ deep. The first day in 1963 without a frost was March 4, the whole Marsh was locked in ice 18″ thick.

For the past year we have been starved of rain and we are looking at a serious water shortage come the summer. We should think hard about what we plant in our gardens. Choose the things that do not require a lot of water to flourish.

The local woods around Rye are rich in sweet chestnut trees but we have recently learned that they are threatened. Be the problem due to the climate change or a virus similar to what the elm trees suffered a few years ago we are not certain. I worry that many other species of trees and plants will be affected unless we have regular cold winters that let them sleep and rest. The reason we have such a diversity of trees and plants is because they like our climate, change that and mother nature will take a hand in re-organising things.

The Frenchman is showing an ever increasing interest in the land around the South of England. He reckons that as the climate gets warmer here he will be able to establish vineyards.

The Primrose is at risk if the winters continue to be mild. They flower to early, before the insects that pollinate them are about. Primrose plants flower for eight years then new plants must be available to replace them. Eight years of mild winters could see the end of primroses in this area. Beech, Ash and Oak trees will also suffer, what would our part of England be like without them?

Fishing in Rye Bay

They still keep making the wall around Rye higher to keep the river within it’s banks but the silt builds up nearly as fast. When will they learn that to remove the sediment would increase the drainage and help alleviate a problem caused by flood water coming down the Tillingham being held up by the tide and flooding Tilling Green.

I suspect that they are only concerned with preventing flooding from an unusually high tide and soon they will come up with that old chestnut
of a barrier down stream to stop the sea encroaching. That should prove interesting after all the money they have spent on the fishing fleet facilities at the Fishmarket. The boats would have to be re-located at Rye Harbour!


“Rye’s Own” February 2006

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