In The Bleak Midwinter...

Sarah in the snow.
It started to get seriously wintry again here in the middle of last week, with frosty winds making moan all over the place.  I stayed indoors on Tuesday and wrote a ghost story for a children's anthology to which I've been asked to contribute.  I don't usually enjoy writing short stories, nor do I much like ghost stories, but I thought it would be a good, wintry challenge, so I did 5,000 words about a haunted Dartmoor wood.  I remember being badly frightened by ghost stories which I read as a child, so I tried to make mine quite happy and comforting and I suppose it may not be scary enough for the yoof o'today: we'll have to see what the editor thinks.

On Thursday evening we were all supposed to be going to Dartington, where Sarah's choir were to be singing festive songs at the Cider Press Centre's late night shopping do, but when we got to the top of Widecombe Hill and saw the snow already laying we decided that not getting stuck in Dartington for an indefinite period was the better part of valour, and turned back.  By Friday morning there was quite a decent dusting - enough to ensure that the last day of school was cancelled - and more fell on Friday night, leaving us pretty well cut off.  There was no chance of driving anywhere, so we ended up missing the Leusdon panto for the first time since 1999: Boo!  It looks like being a dull week for Sam in the run up to Christmas, with no little friends to play with, but at the moment he's busy on his bedroom floor farm, where bales have to be delivered to his flock of home-made cotton-wool sheep: a good farmer thinks of his stock first in weather like this.

Meanwhile, naughty mice have started eating holes in the water pipes up in the loft; we were woken twice last week to find water dripping through Sam's bedroom ceiling, and I've been making many trips up the stepladder and through the tiny ceiling hatch to lay out trays of poison.  I've always had a fairly live-and-let-live attitude to mice in the loft before; they seemed to do no harm, and I assumed that being woken occasionally by odd scratchings and scamperings overhead was one of the joys of country life.  But a mouse that breakfasts on plastic water pipe might well decide that it fancies a bit of electrical cable for lunch, and then where would we be?  Seven snowy miles from the nearest fire station and awkwardly aware of it, that's where.

Anyway, winter does have its positive sides.  For one thing, when the daytime temperature drops below 4 degrees c, you're allowed extra biscuits, apparently.  For another, the sun shone all day yesterday and we walked down the deserted lanes for scrummy pork'n'apple baps at the Rugglestone Inn.  Frodo made the acquaintance of many interesting dogs, William Bell passed by in his John Deere much to Sam's delight, and Sarah took lovely pictures all the way.

Frodo loves the snow, and comes in from his expeditions to the garden looking like the Abominable Snow Poodle...

Last night there was a clear sky and a full moon.  The moonlight reflecting off the snow was so bright that it looked like one of those old films where they simulated night time by shooting in broad daylight and stopping down the exposure.  While I was reading Sam's bedtime story, Sarah went out into the garden and took photos of the house, the stars, and the frozen lake.

Wherever you are, I hope you're snug and warm!

(All photos by Sarah as usual - except the ones she's in, which are by me.)