On the basis of the past few weeks there is absolutely no doubt that we got lulled into a false comfort zone by the incredibly mild winter last year. Unfortunately, this year has thus far been a whole different story, and this house is definitely not up to the demands of winter living. A horrible cold wind has been blasting it’s way down the valley from the snow zones to the West of us for the past 72 hours. It rattles every window and shutter in the building, occasionally forcing one open with a large bang, and making relaxation or sleep virtually impossible. On Friday night it ripped up the two big new gazebos at the kitchen end of the house, tore the canvas to shreds and reduced the frames to a pile of twisted scrap metal. Unbelievably, one of the tarpaulins became entangled with the outside tap, switched it on in the middle of the night, and then acted as a funnel to direct the water beneath the patio doors into the lounge. I woke up on Saturday morning after a feverish night where I got through six t-shirts to find 2cm of water right through the lounge and the kitchen not much better. It took over two hours to mop up! Ann has certainly chosen the right weekend to go to Sheffield to see her Mum! We have completely stopped using the log fire as the doctor thinks it was one of the things that was making us ill, and have discovered much to our surprise that the portable gas fire works just as well. I wish I had discovered that four months ago! I don’t think either of us will be at all sorry to see the back of January.
So, what’s to look forward to? Well, the wind must stop eventually, and when I popped down the village this morning one or two of the almond trees had the first faint dusting of colour on them. Within a week the whole valley will be full of the most beautiful scented pink blossom. It is the most wonderful harbinger of Spring, and well worth seeing. We have our new house to look forward to moving in to, with the prospect of being able to do some gardening. It has a self-contained guest bedroom with an en suite, so we are very much hoping that as soon as we are permanently settled people will start to come out and visit us. I’m very much looking forward to setting up the new music promotions business and have lots of ideas that I need to develop. We are both enjoying painting. I have signed up for a colour mixing course next week so that I can do more Martian boats for Mike Hill, and Ann is really into portraiture. I think I have even located a cricket club to play for, but have got to get my kit sent out somehow. So, all in all we have lots to be looking forward to if we can just survive the next month! All the best, Andy.