Sunday 4 February 2018

Candlemas Day ... so how did it work out for you?

Friday was Candlemas Day, the day on which the faithful traditionally celebrated the churching of the Virgin after the Holy Birth. It seems a strange thing to celebrate these days, but it was the occasion for a special mass preceded by a candlelit procession, which would have been a pretty spectacle back in the day. And, of course, snow drops were taken as Candlemas Bells, their whiteness resonating with the theme of the festival. And anything that focuses on a beautiful bloom in the grey of winter is an attractive proposition in my book.

There was also an old tradition that if the weather on Candlemas Day be bright and fair, it meant (perhaps counter-intuitively) that winter's grip had not yet weakened. If on, the other hand it was grey and cloudy, it signified that half o' winter's gone at Yule. That was to say, that the better part of the winter was spent, and spring was just around the corner.

Here in London, Candlemas Day dawned bright and clear, but then quickly clouded over to become grey and dull, so I really wasn't much further forward in predicting what was to come. Today, in the papers, however, they're predicting a really cold spell for the South East. So I guess the bright clear interlude first thing in the morning trumped the cloudy grey afternoon, and we've got a slog of hard winter weather to come.

Yesterday, that certainly seemed to be the case. I was in Chiswick and the rain was coming down like stair-rods. The Thames is strongly tidal in and around London. And the rainy early evening coincided with high tide. So this is what Chiswick Mall looked like:

It's hard to tell where the Mall begins and Thames ends. Normally there are lovely gardens on the river side of the street, but as you can see they were playing host to the river fish. I went away to collect something, and came back 10 minutes'  later and was amazed by how much the level of the river had fallen in such a brief interlude.

It must be strange living with the fluctuations of the river level. There are signs everywhere advising people not to park, and leave their cars unattended for long periods of time. In fact that car in the first photograph had probably been parked up close the edge of the kerb, and when I came upon it, it had been dragged into the centre of the street by the force of the water.

Still, for me, there's something quite romantic about London in the rain. I love splashing around in the puddles as the rest of the world hunch their shoulders and rush by.

Even the old churchyard has a certain damp charm as the rain drops fall and the evening draws in. I love the moist halos that enshroud the streetlights.

And then you discover that you're all on your own. All the sensible people have gone home to cosy up indoors. The WonderDog, who had morphed into a drenched street rat, and I had the streets to our selves.

Wishing you blue skies and sunshine,

Bonny x

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