I have no idea how they do it, but again and again the RevGals in charge of the Friday Five seem to pick a topic that is absolutely spot on for my current concerns. Today I'm viewing with mingled excitement and terror a trip to Iceland with Hugger Steward next week. In her Gap year, Hattie Gandhi and I spent 3 days in Venice - and somehow this has evolved into a tradition such that at some point during a Gap year, there will be a mother and child expedition to a European destination of the offspring's choice. Venice was easy. Art, food and shopping. What's not to love? Iceland is rather more alarming, as HS really wants to explore the wild open spaces, trek across snow fields and generally cut himself adrift from the sorts of safety nets that an unfit middle aged mother might be inclined to cherish. Yes, I love the thought of seeing a real glacier, of encountering the original geyser at Geyser....but I do like to be warm and dry and I have an old fashioned affection for breathing...and I suspect that it may be difficult to achieve all of these. Still, I would trust HS to the ends of the earth and beyond...so on Monday we depart before the dawn chorus and by tea time will be negotiating the by-ways of Rekjavik. All of which means that a Friday Five on winter is pretty damn timely....
1. What is the thermometer reading at your house this morning? According to BBC Radio Gloucester, it's about 5 degrees this evening (it's now late on Friday here)...Yesterday was positively springlike, but a cold and clear night followed. Today was gloomier but looks set to be warmer tonight as a result.
2. Snow—love it or hate it? Mostly LOVE it. We get very little of it, so it is always an adventure. I slightly lost my nerve after falling a breaking my wrist a few years ago, so am less gung ho about the whole experience - indeed, I feel as if I'm turning into a little old lady as I pick my careful way along the pavement in icy weather...but the shimmering landscape, the way that the ugliest buildings are softened and transformed, the sheer magic...oh, that I love, sure enough.
3. What is winter like where you are? Damp, dank and gloomy - with occasional bursts of sparkling frosted wonder.
4. Do you like winter sports? Any good stories? "Like" and "sports" are pretty much antitheses for me....The broken wrist I mentioned above was caused by nothing more strenuous than walking my young children to school on a frosty morning. I slipped on the ice on my way back down the hill - and found myself unable, for the next 6 weeks, to drive, to write, to do most of the things that a mum with under 10s living in a small village needs to be able to do .
One positive outcome of this was that the said children learned various useful life skills, such as loading the washing machine and making their own packed lunches - but all the same, it was deeply irritating..not least as I had cycled around London, ridden horses in assorted slightly insecure situations and stayed sound in wind and limb. Walking my children to school was clearly far more risky!
5. What is your favorite season, and why? Oooh...I love each of them in turn. I need variety, so whenever a new season is unmistakeably here I rejoice that it's pleasures are to replace those of the one before. Because of all of them spring shouts loudest of transformation and new starts, I guess it's my absolute favourite...but it's hard to beat lying on springy turf under a cloudless summer sky...or scrunching through heaps of autumn leaves...or watching snow muffle the ugliness of the suburbs.
Bonus: Share a favorite winter pick-me-up. A recipe, an activity, or whatever.
Take one cat (black, name of Tallis) , a happily trashy whodunnit, a sofa, an open fire and a mug of Whittard's Spiced Christmas tea. Augment with a slice of Christmas cake and a CD of your choice. I'm going to listen to the Tallis Scholars performing Dunstable....and I'm not coming out til it stops raining.