I'm sitting at my desk with a perfect vista of snow-covered slopes and crags before me. The sun is rising above the escarpment, backlit by a soft pinky yellow sky. A few lone clouds are drifting gently above its rim and a flock of birds has just passed overhead for some unknown destination. The snow-encrusted drystone walls take on a beauty all of their own, drawing my eye down towards the village which still sleeps. All is silence, peace. Is this not what Christmas should be all about?
For many the snow has caused so many problems. Everyone dreams of a White Christmas but no-one really wants one because of the disruption and chaos that it can bring in this (absurd) country. I took the precaution on Friday of getting my snow tyres put back on. Best decision of the year. Without my trusty Audi chugging up and down the hill I, too, would have been as stuffed as the Christmas turkey. My parents and mother-in-law braved the roads from Sussex yesterday amid dire warnings of road closures and more snow to come. None of that actually happened, thankfully, and they managed to get down into the village where I then came to pick them up and transport them and their Christmas luggage back up the hill. I have got The Big Cheese to his trains on time and helped dig him out of the station car park. I am rather in love with my trusty steed at the moment, old and slightly battered as she is. She is a workhorse, and drives like a dream to boot. Despite pressures from Himself, I have no immediate plans to get rid of her. She's just like a favourite old coat.
I still have Christmas cards to write and send, a mountain of presents to wrap, food shopping to do and parts of the house still to clean and decorate for further guests. I have relished this quiet moment of solitude at my desk after an early foray out to the station, enjoying the crisp beauty of the early morn in its soft chill blanket. But now the household is waking, there are voices discussing the Christmas cards displayed on the back of the study door and my moments of blissful peace are swiftly drawing to a close. Soon the day will swing into action with discussions about toast and cereal, coffee and arrangements. We are hoping to get to Manchester for a few hours to wander around the Christmas markets before they shut down for another year. We are having an early supper at a favourite Italian and then taking the girls to see the stage production of the Sound of Music at the Palace Theatre. The stuff of Christmas.
After the festivities here, we leave on the 27th for an overnight in Sussex at my parents' home before catching a plane from Gatwick to Bordeaux. We're spending New Year down amongst the pine trees of the Landes with friends from here, before driving over to the Alps for a week of skiing. It has meant a huge amount of pre-Christmas organisation with packing and mountains of washing and gathering together of ski kit on top of all the other stuff, but it will be worth it. The snow in the Alps is abundant and there is nothing like a burst of mountain air to blow away the cobwebs of the old year and put the world in perspective.
So all that is left is for me to do is wish whoever may be reading this a very Happy Christmas and New Year and I'll catch up again in a few weeks time.
Have fun, stay safe, and enjoy the peace and the slowing of pace that comes only with snow.
PS: And for anyone who still has time on their hands for this year (unlikely!) or who would like to plan ahead for next, I have posted my own recipe for Christmas Chutney over on my Fridge Food site.