Posted by Tania Kindersley.
I have two things to say to you, and they are so important that I am going to say them in capital letters.
Minus seventeen is what it was this morning. Even by the time the ladyships and I got out of the house, which was rather shamingly late, it was still so cold that we could only walk for fifteen minutes before our ears started developing icicles.
I called the older niece.
'MINUS SEVENTEEN,' we shouted at each other.
'I'm going to get my ears WARM,' I yelled.
'Yes, yes,' she said. 'Warm those ears.'
(Sometimes when I write these things I wonder. Mostly I wonder: if Martin Amis had a blog, is this the kind of thing he would write? My answer is usually: No.)
The Jimmy Anderson thing will take a bit of explaining for those of you who do not follow the cricket. I can imagine the befuddlement especially on the faces of my American readers right now, as they attempt to understand a game that goes on for five days. I hardly understand it myself.
I am not a cricket expert. There are elements of the game that are still a mystery to me. I'm not sure that I could quite explain to you what a silly mid-on is, although I am passionately glad that such a position exists. Silly mid-on is exactly what the language of Shakespeare and Milton was invented for. It is so crazily, elementally British that it makes me smile all over my face.
But cricket is woven into my DNA; it is stitched into my heart, in some inexplicable way. The thwack of leather on willow makes me think that all is well in the world. (You can see some very strange magical thinking going on here.) I have two older brothers, so it is an intrinsic part of my childhood. The oldest brother had a friend who loved the game so much that he invented a special cricket dance; at parties, he would clear the floor by running up and down and bowling imaginary leg spinners, to the sound of KC and the Sunshine Band singing That's the way, uh huh, uh huh, I like it, uh huh uh huh. When I was very small, my parents had an annual cricket match, and their dashing London friends would roar down the M4 to play in it. I can still hear the voices of my brothers, as they stood at the crease: 'middle and leg, middle and leg'.
So when the Ashes come round, I get very excited. Usually what happens is that the Australians walk all over us, and there are lots of pathetic pom jokes, and then I get very sad. Even though England won last year, and people who know say that the current side is strong, there is always a humming sense of trepidation. First of all, it's England, and we are used to England losing things. Second of all, it's Australia. Australians do not do gallant underdog, or honourable defeat; I very much doubt that they say to each other, as the British do, it's not the winning, it's the taking part. They have no shyness about victory; triumph is taught to them along with the alphabet. When it comes to cricket, they are mighty.
It sounds bizarre to describe anything that goes on for five days as nail-bitingly tense, but sometimes the terror of batting collapse is so great that I cannot bear to listen to Test Match Special. So imagine my joy when I woke this morning to discover that the sparkling, unstoppable Jimmy Anderson had taken four wickets for a mere 51 runs, including the Australian captain for a duck. Ricky Ponting is one of the great cricketers in the world; you do not just get him out for nothing every day.
I was a bit gloomy last night, not sure why. Occasionally, melancholy falls on me for no particular reason. (I think it is called: being human.) I'm not gloomy now. The snow is sparkling with ice, the light shooting off it in a million diamond points. And JIMMY ANDERSON ripped through the Australian top order. When I hear news like that, I think anything is possible.
Now for the photographs. I do hope that you are not getting bored by the endless snow pictures. At the moment, they are all I have to offer, and, if the weather people are to be believed, there may be nothing but snow pictures for some time. Although if lovely JIMMY ANDERSON keeps going, I might just put up lots of pictures of him to break the monotony.
This morning's rowan berries, in all their snowy beauty:
My lovely impressionist trees, as is becoming traditional:
RUN, snow dogs, RUN:
A snow sculpture tree:
The view to the south:
More southern view, with the same curious twilight effect as yesterday. This was actually taken in the late morning, but it almost looks like dusk:
The air was so still that I could hear the church bells tolling the hour:
I love how this is starting to look like a snow arcade:
Observe the exceptionally delicate foot action:
Some sheer, raw beauty for you:
I know that these dogs are absurdly photogenic, but there is something about the vivid winter light that brings out every last atom of their glory:
(In my head, the cartoon voice is shouting: LOOK AT THAT FACE.)
More snow trees, because it seems I cannot get enough snow trees:
Then, in the utter stillness and pure quiet, there was a creak, a shift, a shudder of wind, and this happened:
All the snow crashed off the trees, and the dogs emerged like Captain Scott:
It was really most dramatic. Then the stillness returned, and all was calm and clear again:
I took one last look at the blue remembered hills, and went inside:
Have a glorious Friday.