Ever since Maddie can remember, winter has involved proper snow and serious sledging sessions. We were lucky enough to live right on one of the highest points in Essex at the old house, and although the sacred slopes were a long trek through snowy woods, or a short drive, all bundled up in the car, it was always worth the effort. We would spend many a “snow day” or weekend at the top of Langdon Hill or One Tree Hill with hoardes of other locals, all desperate for a run down the best hills for miles.
So when we first brought Maddie to view Fishponds Cottage, and she saw that one of the fields had its own hill (we call it hilly field), she was thrilled. There was actually still snow on the ground that day so it was easy for her to picture herself sledging down her own private hill; no queuing for a turn, no rushing out first thing to get the best of the snow, and hot chocolates on hand close by.
In fact, it is probably fair to say, that for Maddie, her own sledging hill was one of the main selling points of the house.
So as winter approached, it was with a sense of excitement and anticipation. The sledges we brought out of storage, new salopettes were purchased and we waited.
And we waited.
We noted the classic sign of an impending cold winter, according to the old wives’ tales and commented on just how packed with berries the trees were this year. There was even talk of a cold snap on many of the weather forecasts.
But Christmas came and went, and not a single flake was seen. I can’t help feeling that the rather awesome “snow scooter” that Stu and I bought Maddie for Christmas may have been the final nail in the coffin of a snowy fun filled winter. Such a brilliant gift – if it had snowed.
But now, at the beginning of March, and with temperatures this weekend forecasted at 17 degrees, I think we’ve finally all given up hope of an arctic cold snap.
And the garden seems to be saying the same thing. There’s been an amazing carpet of snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils beneath our huge oak tree. The vivid colours are a welcome sight after this wet and dreary winter. Watching to see what delights emerge from the sodden soil has been one of the great things about the last few weeks at Fishponds. All the spring flowers had come to an end by the time we moved in at the end of April last year so all these little beauties are a revelation. And Fishponds hasn’t disappointed. Beneath hedges, in flowerbeds and under trees we’ve had a veritable rainbow of colour. There has been blossom on a couple of the trees and the hedgerows are just about to burst into leaf.
There’s still some disappointment that the snow never came, but the promise of summer is enough to fill us with anticipation of what’s to come. And in the meantime, we’ve been lapping up the impressive show that spring has given us.