Friday, 3 December 2010

Freezing Friday, and unexpected joy

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.

They are:




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:

3rd Dec 1

My lovely impressionist trees, as is becoming traditional:

3rd Dec 2

RUN, snow dogs, RUN:

3rd Dec 3

A snow sculpture tree:

3rd Dec 4

The view to the south:

3rd Dec 5

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:

3rd Dec 6

The air was so still that I could hear the church bells tolling the hour:

3rd Dec 7

I love how this is starting to look like a snow arcade:

3rd Dec 8

Observe the exceptionally delicate foot action:

3rd Dec 9

Some sheer, raw beauty for you:

3rd Dec 10

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:

3rd Dec 11

(In my head, the cartoon voice is shouting: LOOK AT THAT FACE.)

More snow trees, because it seems I cannot get enough snow trees:

3rd Dec 12

3rd Dec 14

Then, in the utter stillness and pure quiet, there was a creak, a shift, a shudder of wind, and this happened:

3rd Dec 15

And this:

3rd Dec 16

All the snow crashed off the trees, and the dogs emerged like Captain Scott:

3rd Dec 17

It was really most dramatic. Then the stillness returned, and all was calm and clear again:

3rd Dec 20

3rd Dec 18

I took one last look at the blue remembered hills, and went inside:

3rd Dec 19

Have a glorious Friday.


  1. Ohhh my goodness - two things: the darling dog's face and that mini snow avalanche! How on earth did you capture than on film? Are you a closet David Attenborough? I love the snow where you are - we have snow but it's not as good as Scottish snow. Lou xx

  2. Yes please to JIMMY ANDERSON photos (I think he deserves capitals too). The boy is a marvel.

    I feel like a southern softie. I was moaning this morning about having to defrost the car and it was only minus 5. Still quite cold but nothing compared to minus 17.

  3. Such beauty leaves me quite ever thank you!
    The cricket: *please* go and listen to this wonderful album...
    even just the snippets on amazon give you some idea of the glorious sound, it's my favourite album of last year and it's all about the whack of leather on willow.

  4. Minus 17!!! I don't think London's EVER been that cold. I thought of you this morning when I was watching the news.

    My favourite photo today is of the dogs running off down the lane. I love the close ups too, their grey muzzles make them look very distinguished xx

  5. I would just like to say, if it is permitted, that I really LOVE my readers, with an actual love. Not only do you appreciate my dear dogs, but it turns out you also love the cricket. Am grinning like a loon.

    Lou - how kind you are. The moment I heard the snow falling I just snapped and snapped. It went on for an oddly long time, which is how I got the pictures. Mostly I point and shoot and hope for the best; my lovely new lens does help too. It's a proper zoom.

    Alex - it is damn cold. I am wearing four jumpers now. So delighted you admire J Anderson as much as I do.

    Anne - so pleased you are enjoying the beauty. As for Duckworth Lewis, thank you so much for reminding me. I heard both singers (can't remember their names suddenly) last year, talking with Aggers on the lunch break on Test Match Special, and they even sang one of their songs live, and I loved it. But I forgot to get the album. Rushing to iTunes now.

  6. I'm going to direct No1 here.After listening to me recall his Da's miserable night on call, No1's sympathetic comment was: well he will have been pleased about the cricket
    I wish that we could hear church bells, the only one I hear is when the kind Elder who spies me (late) in the car park and carries on tolling the bell.The Minister is waiting for us to turn up during All Things Bright and Beautiful.. there is a bird line in there.

  7. Ladybird - LOVE the No1 cricket joke. It is making me laugh a lot.

    Christina - so delighted you think the ladies look distinguished. Their dear old grey faces make me smile a lot. As for the cold, even with all the heating on, and thick granite walls, I can FEEL the cold coming in. I may have to put on a hat.

  8. Must now go and listen to the Duckworth Lewis Method, for although cricket is a mystery to me (after 10 years in Hertfordshire I can just about guess whether the numbers indicate a good score), I adore Neil Hannon. And can just imagine him singing live on TMS. Which I also love, even though much of what they say is complete gobbledygook to me.

  9. Mona - Neil Hannon, that's who it was. Thank you for reminding me. I too adore TMS, and too do not understand all of it. I like that it is so gentle and polite with rather good understated jokes.

  10. You have surpassed yourself (in the photography line I mean!!!) those are fabulous, gorgeous and spine chilling!

    About Anderson - wasnt it fabulous. And I think rather than a photograph of Anderson a photograph of Ricky Ponting when he got out for a duck would be absolutely gorgeous!

    We also are cricket mad and not just for Sri Lankan cricket. I can watch any cricket, anytime. Everything stops for cricket and when Sri Lanka is playing, Sri Lanka just slooowws down.


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