This past week winter really seems to have arrived. We have had a couple of heavy frosts and there has been a real nip in the air. The cats are going out less and less every day, popping out to make sure that all is well in their world and then darting back in to huddle under radiators or sprawl in front of the fire. The Princess has taken to sleeping either on my pillow with her head resting on mine or, when it’s really cold, she slides under the duvet between us and snuggles into my side.
On the positive side, we have also had a lot of crisp autumn days, with plenty of sunshine and a freshness that I wish I could bottle and inhale on murkier days. The cows in the field across the road appear to be enjoying this late sunshine and don’t seem to notice that they are sharing their space with the huge flocks of birds which are gathering daily on the meadow. Both cows and birds graze peacefully most of the time until something imperceptible to me disturbs the birds, who rise as one and swoop about the cows in a spectacular aerial display before coming back to land and resume their foraging as if they had never stopped. I can only assume that they are gathering in readiness for their long flight south and that they will all too soon disappear.
The fact that winter is upon us was brought home to me at the weekend when we made our journey north to Aberdeen. The hills across the Pennines were white with snow and the vast expanses of mountains, farmland and forests in southern Scotland formed impressively snowy chessboard vistas as we made our way up the motorway. It was truly beautiful but I didn’t think the other motorists would take kindly to me getting out of the car to take photos, so I am afraid I will need to leave its splendour to your imaginations.
And in Aberdeen, the breeze brings new meaning to the word “Baltic”. Here, it is literally true, as there is little in the way to slow down or warm up the winds which travel from the east to hit this coastal city. We came prepared, with hats and gloves and scarves, but it is easy to forget that the wind can take your breath away, until we return to experience it anew each month. We even had some snow peppering the rooftops overnight.
The Christmas lights are lit, the huge tree donated by Aberdeen’s Norwegian twin town each year is up in the Castlegate and the Christmas Village is in full swing, full of cheesy Christmas music, the smells of mulled wine and cider and delicious food from around the world and the excited laughter of Aberdonians on the helter skelter and the carousel. Even though I usually resist Christmas until the middle of December, just walking through it gives me a happy Christmas glow, and I am relying on this to keep me warm until we are curled up with the cats, safe home again.