When travel plans unfold: The Beast from the East

There’s that delicious anticipation between planning a journey – reserving flights, sorting the itinerary – to the moment you’re off, heading to the first destination.   It may all be mapped out but then happenstance unfolds….

Soon after landing in London in late February, the “Beast from the East” appeared. Ominous meteorological phrases described the impending storm  – “a sudden stratospheric warming over the Arctic”,  ” a weakening Polar vortex”  and conditions descended into chaos as The Beast arrived bringing in freezing Siberian air blanketing the country in layers of snow.  The temperature plummeted and in some places went as low as -12*C.


It was all rather surreal, as if the dynamic pulse of London just stopped and was rendered into a stillness under the blanket of snow.  The transformation over the next days was radical – shape-shifting statues turned ghoulish, trees gathered softness in re-imagined Christmas scenes, icicles hung in delicate form, people were stranded, train and bus schedules were interrupted.  Deeper into the country the conditions were dire.

Taking a chance on 28 February when the weather was chilly but clear, i took a walk in Richmond Park, hoping to locate the deer near Potten Pools.  I found the ponds iced over and the ducks and swans skidding in clumsy manoeuvres.


With nary a deer in sight, the yellowing jowls of the grey sky took on the look of wolves advancing when the snow arrived.  Visibility wasn’t too good.  Thank goodness for cell phones and Google maps as i had lost my bearings and was beginning to panic about the wind-chill factor.  Good fortune was restored as i stumbled upon the deer herd near the gate through which i wanted to exit. Though the conditions were not ideal for photography, i manage to get a couple of shots and then beat a very hasty retreat to the warmth of a nearby cafe.

More information on the Beast from the East here.






20 thoughts on “When travel plans unfold: The Beast from the East

  1. Ow, yeah, the Beast from the East. In Finland we called it Wednesday 😉 (there was a funny meme on the internet about that, for these are pretty normal conditions in winter up there).
    Personally, I love snow, and I revel in such a weather… until I get cold, then I’m happy to go inside and work on the pictures I’ve made 😉

    1. I had a quick peek at the meme 🙂 You guys are tough up there. Though i would think the right gear makes the difference for facing the outdoors. I like that word “revel” i must confess if i’d had the opportunity i would have given some off the cuff sledging a go.

    1. Maybe foolish is a better description! Well that i wasn’t quite dressed for the occasion. But i loved the buzz and the feel of that snow. Quite exhilarating and people break out into crazy behaviour throwing snowballs and sledging down small hills. It was infectious 🙂

    1. Freezing it was! I think i would have been okay if i’d had the right gear as the snow was the soft dry stuff – just that wind-chill which went right through to the marrow 🙂 Richmond Park is full of nature surprises. The deer fall right into that human/wildlife conflict arena. People feed them and often intrude into their space. The bucks particularly can be obstreperous defending does and fawns and charging people. Very interesting to observe.

    1. It’s quite and experience! Though you’ve had some pretty low temperatures over your way through winter! London came to a standstill but not for long, and then the transformed landscape turned into a winter wonderland. It was so beautiful.

  2. Here in Norfolk we caught the brunt of the storm, funny though in the past we have had worse winters and just got on with it, probably it’s because the last few years have been mild we noticed it more.

    1. It must have been a challenge dealing with the depth of snow. Interesting how science is linking extreme weather events to the probable cause and effect through climate change. Yet as you remember the past had it’s bad winters and just as here in SA we’ve suffered cycles of severe drought. It’s a bit daunting when the boffs predict a higher frequency of these events labelling this the ‘new normal’!

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