I started noticing that there was a screeching noise from the engine bay in our VW T25 campervan when starting the engine. I decided it must be the auxiliary belt needing tightened or replaced. However, I delayed doing anything about it as I had recently looked at the belt when replacing a section of the cooling pipe and it looked fine then. Anyway, even if it needed replacing it wasn't a problem as I had a spare.
I was working outside on the washing green which entailed walking up and down the steps several times during the early evening. I happened to notice that each time I passed the cornflower plant, at the side of the steps, there was a stationary ginger bumblebee perched on top of one of the flowers. The bumblebee was still there more than thirty minutes later in the exact same position, I decided to investigate. I very carefully prodded the bumblebee and it moved in response, so it was still alive.
We have a peanut (groundnut) feeder made of wood and shaped like a house. On the top of the feeder are two slates which form the roof. However, there is a gap between the slates which allows water to drip down into the nuts. In a wet West Highland climate it doesn't take long for the peanuts to rot when constantly supplied by dripping water. To prevent water ingress we fashioned a metal strip to act as ridging. This worked really well until last winter when we would constantly find it lying on the ground. The winter storms must have been worse than we thought.
The Mini Freeze
The Big Freeze seems to be over but now we seem to be having a Mini Freeze. During January (2010) there was a sustained period of very cold weather with a low of -23° centigrade (according to the car thermometer). Now, towards the end of February, we are having another cold spell although this time the temperature is only getting to about -15° centigrade.
Life on Earth
I vividly remember the scenes of Japanese Macaques enjoying an outdoor hot bath shown in David Attenborough's ground breaking 1979 BBC television series Life on Earth. The macaques' natural habitat is the northern, and moutainous, cold areas of Japan which is why it gets it's alternative name of Snow Monkey. Bathing in the natural hot springs would be a welcome relief from the below zero (centigrade) winter temperatures.