I was awake sneezing and blowing my nose at 4am.
I had one of those horrible sore throats where nothing helps and I’d given up on getting to sleep. Agnes and I had taken to the sofa and were waiting for morning to arrive.
I went to boil the kettle and looked out at the garden, there was a little snow left from yesterday. An hour later I went back and suddenly everything was hidden under a thick, white blanket of snow. The overly predicted snow had actually arrived!
When daylight finally arrived, we wrapped up and took Agnes over to Queen’s Park. It was a magical scene with frosted trees, dry, powdery snow underfoot and crystals twinkling in the sunlight.
|Out in the road and raring to go
Agnes danced for joy and bounded through the snow.
We came home slipping and sliding on the icy paths as the traffic moved slowly on the uncleared roads.
I dosed myself with cold medicine and decided I would work from home.
And so to Day Two of the Siberian winter.
Flights have been cancelled, schools closed and bread has been selling like um, hot cakes as the UK goes into panic mode.
Somehow we managed to walk the dog in bright sunshine with blue skies overhead, I managed to cycle to work (it was a bit cold) and then it started snowing…
While everyone else is busy complaining, there’s one happy dog in London!
|Jumping for joy!
Over the last few weeks, I’ve lost my pottery mojo.
Perhaps I should have continued throwing right handed, perhaps the looser structure of the class hasn’t taught me anything or perhaps I’ve hit a plateau.
Last week it was back to square one as I went back to basics and had a one-to-one with the teacher about how to throw a bloody pot. It was quite frustrating as I thought I was doing quite well at one point.
By the end of the class I was feeling quite a bit better. I’d struggled to centre my clay, I’d thrown away a couple of disasters and I’d made my biggest pot to date, an accidental chamber pot.
|The Accidental Chamber Pot
|Chamber Pot in profile
I’m still trying to make intentional shapes and feel my shapes continue to need refining but progress was finally made and hopefully I’m over the hump!
|More controlled… sort of
One of the most challenging things about owning a dog, is finding a toy which lasts longer than a nano-second.
Dogs have sharp teeth. Dogs like chewing things and dogs have a hunt and kill instinct which seems to extend to soft toys.
Over the past two years we have bought and killed a large number of monkeys and squirrels. We’ve had random limbs and tails which survived the culling but nothing seems to have lasted very long.
It was time to do some research!
After reading a number of reviews from equally frustrated dog owners, I ordered the horrifically named Skin Fling.
Badger, fox, rabbit and pheasant options all look remarkably like road kill as they come without stuffing (so no mess), a squeak in the bum and a ball for a head. So far so good! Agnes likes Skinny Fox and he’s survived the weekend so far.
|Mr Skinny Fox and the Innocent Terrier
Next up was a rabbit skin tail on a string. Complete with squeak, sans body, this well designed toy means one can sit comfortably on the sofa and play tug of war with a small angry terrier.
|The Rabbit Skin Chaser and the Terrier Teeth
More to come on this I suspect as I wonder if these toys are terrier proof…
After a nice weekend of pubs, birthday and anniversary celebrations and a sunny Sunday lunch (more pub), winter was back with a vengeance.
We had been lulled into a false sense of security as we sat in a sun-filled bar enjoying an aperitif before eating an enormous lunch. We meandered home talking about how much we liked Little Venice, washed the dog and watched “Call the Midwife” An ideal Sunday and a productive weekend.
Monday morning, emerging into a cold bathroom, it started snowing and with icy air coming in from the East, it was certainly chilly.
It was a day to forego the bike and succumb to public transport bringing another kind of challenge altogether.
The seasons collided as Winter crashed into Spring, delicate blossoms were frosted with softly falling snowflakes and clung shivering to branches before the wind whipped up tossing them to the ground.
|Blossom with snowflakes
A cold week ahead.
After the weekend away, the birthday and the celebration, nothing much has happened for the past week. How dull!
I’m still smug in my bubble of (sort of) sobriety having had a few drinks for the celebrations and nothing else. I’m not entirely sure what’s happened to me but my drink of choice appears to be tonic water, ice and lemon, the key ingredient no longer appealing. How strange!
I’m now getting into Spring Cleaning having bought a carpet cleaner in a desperate attempt to clean the rugs formerly known as white. The rugs are now shades of beige with abstract patches of yellow. Progress has been made but we won’t be seeing white ever again.
I also went on a bit of a rampage over the weekend and scrubbed the paving removing the build-up of nasty green stuff from the winter. It looks much better and we’re ready to use our tiny outdoor space whenever the time and weather are right.
And with all that cleaning, I’m toying with the idea of an internal cleanse. Starting this week, I’m putting lots of green things on the menu. I’m even boring myself now!
Whilst this probably sounds rather dull, suddenly there’s a sense of spring in the air. The days are getting longer and there are trees with blossom starting to appear. It’s inevitable but it always seems to come as a surprise.
And with all this activity continues the ongoing conversation of where to live… and still no solution and so to end as I started this post, nothing much has happened!
It was finally time to break out the new skis and take to the slopes!
After a little research we decided to try a small resort in the southern Alps, great for beginner and intermediate skiers and so we were off to Valberg!
Valberg is an hour and a half away from our house so we set off reasonably early and arrived around mid morning. Once we were kitted out with passes, ski gear and in my case, shiny new ski gear, we were off on the first chair lift to the summit. Yikes!
It’s fair to say the first run of the season is pretty rusty and involves a bit of fear. After the first wobbly run, things improved greatly and we were building on last year’s experience.
Valberg is a quiet resort, it has a smaller number of advanced runs so it’s great for the beginner and intermediate skier and on a quiet Friday before the school holidays, it meant that the slopes were almost empty.
We had runs and chair lifts almost to ourselves and enjoyed several hours gaining more confidence and daring to go beyond our previous comfort zones.
We think we each accidentally skied down a red run which is considered “difficult” as we branched out from the easy greens and slightly harder blues. No one was injured and if anything, there was a great sense of jubilation or perhaps disbelief!
On Saturday things were considerably busier and the runs were very different with other skiers to dodge. Still, progress was made and we ended on a high.
We’re now very keen to watch the Winter Olympics!
We had been wanting to try our local restaurant Le Clos St Pierre and what better celebration than the birth of Big T.
Off we went on Thursday evening to sample our best local restaurant.
I’m pleased to say we weren’t disappointed.
In a lovely rustic stone building, the menu was a four or five course prix fixe (we both did the four course) consisting of entree, plat, fromage and dessert.
I’ll start by saying if you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you’re out of luck as courses included a prawn caesar salad, poached fish in a seafood broth, tender veal with a braised lettuce and fondant potato, a plate of delicious local cheeses and a creamy, mousse of chocolate and brownie.
It was all very delicious and we will most definitely return in the summer when we can sit outside under the grape arbor.
A lovely local treat.
Two snowflakes were apparently spotted in London and the city ground to a halt. Flights were cancelled and commuters faced chaos. Talk about a snowball effect.
As we are booked to go to France on Thursday to continue the celebration of the birth of the Messiah, we are watching the weather forecast with interested concern.
Flights were cancelled based on forecasting which didn’t come to fruition. I wonder what the cancellation policy is on that?
It was thirty three days and we went out for lunch to celebrate the birth of Big T.
Bigger than Christmas, the birth of this messiah can’t be ignored and usually involves a week of global celebration. This year was no different.
Having spent the last thirty three days sober, I debated on how to evolve my relationship with alcohol. Would I fall off the wagon and retox in a rapid saturation of gin or was being smug too hard to give up?
|Pondering the pros and cons…
My newly discovered love of smug would mean drinking would now be reserved for celebrations unless it turned out there was something to celebrate on a daily basis in which case it would need to be reconsidered.
And so to wet the Messiah’s head, I had a glass of champagne and with lunch, a couple of glasses of white wine. It was ok but to be honest I didn’t feel as though I’d missed much. I didn’t feel brilliant the next morning and my previously clear white eyes had a slight tinge of yellow.
Was it worth it? Yes, to enjoy the moment but no to suffer the moderate after-effects.
And so back to Day One…