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Going Nowhere Fast

I knew it even before I opened my eyes. I could tell by the dull clonking of the church bell. And when I did cautiously open one eye, it was confirmed by the cold blue light coming through the window. Barefoot I pattered across the floor, opened the window and leaned out. The air was clean and cold and the world magically transformed.

The mountains were blotted out by low clouds in a heavy sky and the village was snuggled up cosily under a thick duvet of soft white snow. The tall bay tree in the garden was so laden that it had bent double under the weight, the power cables were adorned with little cliffs of it, and the wrought iron balustrade was covered in yummy crispy icy breakfast snow. We were snowed in!

There was absolutely no chance of the school bus running, no chance of anyone getting in or out of the village at all in fact. There wouldn't be any post and the electricity would probably be flickering on and off all day so it wouldn't be possible to work either. Sucking a handful of snow I crept back to bed for a luxurious lie-in.

Of course Junior Members love snow: building snowmen, throwing snowballs, getting soaked to the skin and chilled to the bone so that their noses turn blue, they just love the excuse to spend all day playing. But I love it for the peace.

I love the silence and the stillness. I love knowing that there won't be any bills, that no-one can drop in for tea, that no-one can ask me to drive them anywhere, that to all intents and purposes, Real Time has stopped and you have entered a Peter Pan world of Time Off.

Being snowed in means chopping extra sticks and locating candles in case there's a long power-cut; it means wandering around the village chatting to the neighbours, taking photos, laughing at the cats as they pick their way across the garden. It means watching the dog leaping and bounding and disappearing into snow drifts.

There's something incredibly relaxing about being snowed in. You have an excuse for everything. You couldn't go to work, you couldn't shop, you can't get to the bank, you can't do anything useful at all, and it isn't your fault! What bliss: a licence to under-achieve.

Better and better - what's the point of denying it? - I like sledging, building mini igloos, and walking in a winter wonderla-a-nd. Hot chocolate with a dash of brandy to keep out the cold? Yummy. Hot toast with melted butter dripping through the bottom? Slurp. Melted cheese? Mulled wine? Alpine savouries? Bring 'em on!

Because normally of course I spend all day virtuously battling with the word processor, only occasionally breaking off for a glass of water and a lettuce leaf. But when you're snowed in you have to play in the snow (for the children's sake) and you have to eat properly (to keep your strength up) and since you can't work with a dodgy power supply, you have to plunge into decadence with good grace and not complain too much.

And then it all melts. The roofs start to drip, the grass starts to poke little green arms through the slush, the snow-plough comes through, the guys get out there with the salt, the bell starts to peel instead of clonk and life rapidly gets back to normal.

Which is why I've been glued to the weather forecast this week. I'm just wondering if we'll get snowed in again? You never know your luck.

Next column will be uploaded around 1 February.

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