Thursday, January 08, 2009

The coldest snap for 20 years

Victoria Park Lake People #1
pencil in Derwent Safari sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Today it was finally warm enough for me to risk going out for a walk - as in the temperature got above freezing.

It's been very, very cold for the last few days in London with newspapers now reporting that some parts of the UK are experiencing the coldest temperatures for 20 years.

I struggled for hours this morning while trying to renew and install my security suite. In the end I decided I needed to just walk away from the problem and go for a good long walk - and wait for the support people to sort everything out.

So, my walk today took me up to Victoria Park where I'd remembered there was another pond which would be worth investigating. It's the one I always think of as the fishing pond and it always has lots of bird life around and about. Today it was frozen with just one part open for a large gaggle of birds who were all being amazingly sociable

Then I walked across to the Lake - which was also frozen except for the bit in the middle where the fountain was keeping the water moving. I can't remember the last time I've seen it frozen like that - it's been many, many years. It's a large expanse of water and it sometimes freezes around the edges but nothing like it was today. The swans and other birds were standing on top of the water and finding it difficult to locate water to 'hoover'.

Although above freezing it was still far too cold to sit outside and sketch (I've identified the thermal long johns I need - I've just not got them yet!) so I dived into the Pavilion cafe for lunch and sat and sat at the window and drew people on the terrace outside - overlooking the lake and the fountain. I ha d a lovely Chorizo, hummus and spinach stew with granary bread while I sat and sketched. The people in the cafe were a complete mix of Yummy Mummies with teenie tinies and old East Enders - a sign of how the area has changed in the last 25 years.

It struck me this might be quite a good spot to do a series of sketches of people all occupying the same space. So having done my first sketch of a couple of yummy mummies, I proceeded to a sketch of three people having lunch. They were joined by a couple of very friendly pigeons. I think some of the birds in Victoria Park have a goal of making the leftovers from the cafe their staple diet!

Victoria Park Lake People #1
pencil in Derwent Safari sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

On the way home, down the Regents Canal, via the Ecology Park Pond, I found yet more evidence of just how cold it has been. The canal was all churned up suggesting that there has been some movement of canal barges - and the ice was quite fascinating as a result.

Ice on the Regents Canal 8th January 2009

In the Ecology Park everything was frozen solid - except under the wooden bridges where the moor hens had taken up residence.

Ecology Park Pond frozen - ice on the ice
and my usual seat for sketching

I discovered a new way of going sketching today. I put a pencil and a pen in the zip up pockets of my fleece. Then I use my new smaller Derwent sketchbook - and that will just go inside the sleeve of my warm furry lining jacket with the rib cuffs at the end of the sleeves. Which means I can walk around with no backpack. Yippee. I think winter sketching means more sketching in pen and graphite and less in coloured pencil - well until it warms up a bit!

Note: The Pavilion Cafe comes highly recommended by me - just what this area needed! Here are a couple of reviews from Time Out and The London Review of Breakfasts - which is a blog which is new to me! The menu board suggested they catered for both those who like a major fry-up at breakfast or the alternative healthy veggie blow-out version. Read the comments for the breakfast review!



  1. Wow it really is cold there. Even though I had it fairly mild there this christmas, i'd have liked to have been around for the super cold snap (perversely), just to see all that ice in familiar places. I've not been to victoria park in years, it's a lovely park that.

  2. Hi Pete - yes, it really is that cold. Lots colder than before Christmas.

    Victoria Park was reputedly the GLC's Director of Parks' favourite park (when the GLC used to run it) - and he apparently used to keep very quiet about just how good it is.

    What I like is it's huge and has got the layout of a proper traditional Victorian Park. It's had pluses and minuses over the year. I just wish they'd plant a few more flowers around the place and get rid of some of the shrubs around the lake.

    Somewhere I've got a photo of me nearly 30 years ago sitting on the seats on the northern edge of the lake with a frozen lake and setting sun behind me.

    Unfortunately you now can't see the lake from those seats because some bright spark thought it would be a good idea to plant great big bushes in-between the seats and the lake!!!

  3. A fine sketch. The swans are beautiful too. All that ice makes me glad I'm not in London at present - and that's saying a lot because I know Stone & Green hasn't frozen over.

    I always enjoy hearing what was on the menu too ;)

  4. I'll take a photo of the menu next time I visit - it was very "I must come again!"

  5. Victoria Park i love that place, natural and beautiful but still very cold there.

  6. Katherine, I did see this and it made me pity the poor feet of those waterfowl. Lovely frozen ice!!!Burr.

  7. I could have sworn that some of the coots in my photos were actually frozen into the pond!


I always check identities and ALL links in comments for spam.

Due to excessive attempts to introduce spam via comments on this blog, I've introduced a regime where all comments with links in the ID or text to the websites of hotels/resorts/tourist destinations will NOT be approved and are deleted. The websites of repeat spammers are also reported to Google.

Nice, sensible people who are not new to blogging probably don't need to read my Comments Policy