Battle on girls, battle on…
Here followeth a long and somewhat indulgent post on the weather – me being an Englishish sort of person it is, you know, kind of mandatory. I thought I should warn all housepornists looking for a fix. Caveat emptor and all that.
So then, we have left behind the Uhstrayan summer, where each day is hammered flat by the heat, and instead find ourselves slap bang in the middle of the English winter. Where the cold sends tendrils up into the bones, where fingers are refugees up stretched sleeves and dewdrops are a democratic nasal vernacular. Where doors tap fretfully in their frames all night and outside, crows fall silently out of bare trees.
The other day I asked Mr P’s mother, as we toiled along the street and the wind hurled around the corner to slam into us and then through us, whether this really was, as she had earlier described it, a ‘mild’ winter. She was thoughtful for a moment and then said ‘well, I suppose there is a bit of a nip in the air’.
Maybe I’ve gone soft.
But even so, and at the risk of little men popping out from behind bushes with straightjackets, I do prefer being cold to being hot. I love the almost-death of winter and the spare but vibrant splashes of life – you know, the winter jasmine blazing away like tiny yellow stars, and the little clumps of viburnum huddled in ice-cream colours on their black branches. A little goes a long way. Just enough hope to keep you trotting on. Maybe it’s the Calvanist in me but I like good things in manageable doses. I find endless exuberant abundance a little unsettling. Like being at a feast when you’re full.
And if the little bits of colour don’t do it for you, then maybe the small, everyday battles might. Because there are victories to be won here. If you can manage to haul yourself out from under your pile of crocheted blankets and dress and launch yourself out against the elements, if you can withstand your nose being sliced off, your ears scoured out with ice, your toes nibbled at by mice, if you can do all that and return with your daily needs then there should be no stopping you. Why not conquer a mountain or two? A small and distant principality? There really isn’t a lot of difference once you get going. Me, I must confess to a fondness for the winter here. At least, having survived it, you know you exist. In the Australian summer it always seems slightly conjectural. But that’s all getting a bit ponderous. Madam, cease and desist! Put the existentials down and step away.
So anyway, this is where the mildness or otherwise of the winter was debated, at the very top of this hill (and, actually, around a small corner, but cut me a bit of slack). Pretty innit?
We are presently staying in a village that was the model for Marlot in Tess of the Durbs.
In fact I once sent a letter to Mr Pimpernel, addressed it to Marlot and it arrived! British posties, we salute you. Think yellow stone, lichen, high hedgerows. Think, Mr P said in the yowling wastes of early morning jetlag, think a pimple rising from a marsh. All around are villages with names that are ancient and completely beguiling. Ryme Intrensica. Wyke Champflower. Piddle Trenthide. And my all-time favourite – Queen Camel. Imagine!
Tomorrow, Londinium, ‘ome of me ‘eart.