snow!

P1200003 Life has been very busy lately, which is why it’s been rather quiet here on the blog. But the thick blanket of snow which arrived on Friday morning has changed all that.

P1200018In a matter of hours our neighbourhood was transformed. Most of Bristol’s schools were closed and the atmosphere in our street, and in the park, was a bit like having a second run at Christmas but without any of the Bah! Humbug! and stress.

P1200021 P1200022 P1200092 P1200091 P1200093Life has slowed to an unsteady dawdle (though now that I’ve located my Yaktrax, I’ve been able to speed up a bit) and the last two days have been a lovely mixture of tobogganing in the park and walking the dog – usually the last thing the girls want to do is walk the dog, but it’s suddenly right up there at the top of the what-I-want-to-do-today list.

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The dog adores the snow, and races around the park and the garden in a state of demented joy and then passes out by the fire when we get home. The poor cat is in a deep sulk – she hates the snow and is wearing an expression of pained resignation.

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snow

So, Matilda got her wish.

In a perfect world I think we could all have done with a slightly heavier snow fall.

But it seems that even a thin blanket of the white stuff exerts a certain magic: all three girls were out of bed and ready for breakfast by 7am. Unheard of on a school day.

And like the rest of the family, Sybil loves it too. Shame it’s all gone.

shadowlands

Matilda is on permanent snow watch at the moment. She bursts into whichever room
I’m in, brandishing her ipod touch, to announce the latest meteorological
developments. Or, in the case of Bristol, the lack of developments, because despite
grey skies and freezing temperatures, the snow keeps passing us by.

And to add insult to injury, every now and then the sun decides to put in an appearance. All of which is hugely frustrating for Matilda. But I quite enjoy the fleeting sunshine, especially when the back of the house is bathed in a strange golden light, and the walls of kitchen and garden are filled with wonderful shadows.

I think this makes up for the lack of snow. But it’s not good enough for Matilda,
who, although having only experienced two properly white winters in her life, has
come to regard snow as a given for this time of year. Her fingers are firmly crossed
for a snowy half term. And I have to admit, mine are too.

four seasons in a day

I’ve been trying to write a post about something nice and Christmassy that I did at the weekend, but I’m not getting very far. This is because I am also chasing last minute bits and pieces for an event which may or may not happen tomorrow evening, as it is totally weather dependent. Meanwhile, outside the weather is taunting me with an impressive medley and I keep leaping up to take photographs. I suppose I’m only encouraging it.

So far this morning we have had high winds and heavy, heavy rain; thunder and lightning; three separate hailstorms; sleety-rainy-haily stuff and now, brilliant sunshine.

I’m expecting a rainbow and perhaps some snow by this afternoon’s school run.

The other post will follow soon enough. But in the meantime Amy left a comment asking for the chocolate shortbread recipe which I mentioned in this post – here it is, Amy, and sorry that it’s taken so long for me to get round to writing it up. It’s not mine, but from The Great British Book of Baking (the first one, as I think there might be a second one).

Ingredients: 260g plain flour; 100g caster sugar (plus a little extra for sprinkling); 40g cocoa powder; pinch of salt (not necessary, I think if you use slightly salted butter); 200g unsalted butter, chilled and diced.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4  Grease a loose-based 20.5cm cake tin

Put flour, sugar, cocoa and salt into a mixing bowl and stir well to combine. Add the butter and rub into the dry ingredients until it resembles fine damp sand, or sandy crumbs. Tip it into a prepared tin and press into an even layer using the back of a spoon. Finally prick the dough well with a skewer or a fork, and then score into 12 sections.

Bake in the oven for around 25 mins until just firm.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with a little more caster sugar and then, before removing it from the tin, carefully cut along into the pre-marked sections. Leave to cool before removing from tin. This might be difficult as it smells wonderful, and you may be tempted to eat it, but it is still quite crumbly at this stage, and will set firmer as it cools.

this time last year…

This time last year, Bristol was blanketed in snow. It snowed from late on the night of the 5th until mid-morning the next day, and then it stopped. But the snow lay on the ground for a week, school was closed for a couple of days, and the streets were filled with happy people skidding about on whatever they could lay their hands on – I saw a lot of estate agents’ signs being pressed into service as toboggans. One of the (many) big hills near us, has several satisfying rises which made for brilliant ski-Sunday-style action.

As you can see it’s quite steep …

The paddling pool in St Andrew’s Park froze over and the children were pulled around the neighbourhood on my mother’s old sledge.

This year’s snowfall was not very impressive in comparison. I know they must be sick of it in Scotland, but when I heard that more snow was on the way for the North East, I was a little bit envious. Though I know I really should be careful what I wish for – it was bloody cold, and I am quite glad that on my recent walks I’ve managed to retain feeling in my toes.

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You can’t really have an advent calendar without a snowman so, although it hasn’t snowed properly in Bristol, yet, here’s a rather charming one from earlier in the year. He was bowing to us as we walked through St Werburgh’s City Farm back in January when Bristol was completely blanketed in snow. Fingers crossed that we may get at least one day’s tobogganing this Christmas.