24th December

It was a lovely day today - clear and bright, although cold. The snow is partchy, but there is a lot of ice.

I have just been out in the garden - it is 9/30 pm. It is cold but clear. Hundreds of sparkling stars.
No sign of Santa yet though.

Merry Christmas everyone


23rd December

some blatant pirating: looted from Linda Proud's Blog which she in turn used from the chronicle of Bartolommeo Masi, quoted in John Gage's 'Life in Italy at the time of the Medici.'

In the winter of 1510 the snow lay more than two feet deep in the streets, 'so that you could not get out of the houses to do business without removing it, and so everyone clered his own entrance. And most people in Florence went up on to the roofs of their houses to clear the snow and throw it down in the streets, to relieve the roofs, for fear that they might collapse under the great weight of it. The cold was so great that after lunch, when the sun was slightly stronger than in the morning, the roofs started to drip, and there was none without icicles under the eaves, two or three feet long, which seemed to be pieces of crystal. Sometimes one fell, and would have killed anyone it hit on the head, they were so large and pointed. The people were careful not to walk under the eaves, and you also had to take care where you put your feet, because of the great sheets of ice on all the streets, for when the snow melted from the roofs, the drops turned to ice as soon as they touched the street, so that it was like walking on diamonds. You could never walk with enough caution, because you never went from home to work without falling over once or twice.

To read the full article click here


21st December

I didn't see the lunar eclipse. For one thing only a small part would have been visible from the UK, for another our skies were very overcast here this morning - and the truthful reason ..... I was asleep.

Temperatures have reached as low as -19 in some parts of the UK. I thought it was quite Ok last night (at about 12.45 - I'd been to the Olympia horseshoe & was waiting for my husband to collect me & Kathy from the nearest Underground station, having missed the last bus.)
Yes breath was looking like a dragon in full steam, pavements were icy and my hands were cold, but I was wrapped up in several warm layers and was out of the wind. I suppose ten minutes in the cold is different to ten hours though.

I hope the homeless have all found shelter. Nights like this no one deserves to sleep in a cardboard box or a doorway..

How did they endure in the past I wonder? Without good heating, with nowhere to dry clothes?

I don't think I'd be too keen to go back in time during the winter months, to be honest.


20th December

AS reluctant as I am to admit it - its a beautiful day outside! The sky is bright blue, the snow is majestically draped over hedge, tree and fence and blanketing the garden - and the sun is sparkling on it.
Blue tits are singing from the tree outside my office window - and I can't take a photo because I have no idea where the camera is.

It doesn't even feel that cold outside.
If it wasn't for the fact that I'm out tonight I'd go for a walk but I've already been shopping (managed to get a goose in Sainsburies . Yay!) and I know I'll be knackered if I don't go sit down for a bit.

Probably be snowing again by this evening


19th December

I woke up in the early hours - about 3.30 I think it was - and peeped out through my bedroom window.
I don't like snow because of the difficulties it causes, and I worry about my daughter going back & forth to the stable yard to do the horses safely - cars and ice and snow don't mix.

Snow is wonderful if you don't have to travel anywhere. But when you do....

However, the view from my window (ignoring the wheelie bin, compost bin and recycling boxes) was lovely. The hedge draped in snow, the tree decorated with snowy tinsel. The school opposite with a white coated roof and artistically natural festooned windows.

The street light rather spoilt things as it is right outside and too bright (although it is one of those "downward" lights that are good for the night sky environment.)

What was beautiful was the moon. Almost full and hanging serenely in a black, black sky watching, protective over us with her benevolent smile.

Tuesday is the Winter Solstice - the Festival of Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun, and this year is special. This year there will be a full moon at the solstice. And an eclipse.  The last time this happened was 456 years ago.

One other thing struck me as I snuggled back into my warm bed. I always have the small window partly open (can't sleep with a closed window). I lay there listening.

Not a sound. Outside was absolute silence.

I live in a busy north east London town. About 100 yards away at the end of my road is a busy main road. Not far away the even busier North Circular A 406 and the Billet Roundabout, a very busy junction leading to the M11 motorway.
When the wind is in the right direction I can hear the traffic clearly - including the blare of horns and squeal of tyres.... brace yourself for the following crump of a crash.....

Most nights a police car with Blues & Twos - Lights..... Music.... nah, nah; nah, nah (add your own Doppler effect)

Or a fire engine races past the other end of my road (the quieter non main road end, about 10 yards away) The fire station is along this road, so the engines often come down.

Then there is the ordinary traffic; cars, vans, that bloomin' diesel truck that pulls up every morning and lets his noisy engine idle for at least ten minutes. The slam of upstairs' front door. I swear one day they will have it off its hinges or a window will break. They slam it with such force the front of my place shakes.

But last night - not a sound. No noise from the flat upstairs. No noise from any neighbour. Not a car, a van, a fire engine, a police car. No engines, no exhaust, no siren. Nothing.

Silent night.
Holy Night
All was calm.
All was bright.

Then one small, tiny, contented little noise started to grow steadily louder and settled into a soporific rhythm.
From the end of my bed the kitten was purring.

Don't know what happened after that. I fell asleep.