Having spent the night shivering miserably beneath the duvet, I felt pretty rotten on crawling out of bed & into the cold morning air. The previous evening’s chill had proved harder than expected; & the roseate blush of dawn’s early light over the pearly dusting of brittle frost scattered farm & fields with the sparkle of a million jewels. Having set the fires in the hearths I soon felt invigorated in the crisp morning air; although it was even colder than anticipated & I regretted venturing onto the yard without the sensible comfort of a pair of gloves.
After feeding the animals I did some heelwork on the lead with Brynn (whilst at home Tony trains Nanuk, as he has such a great rapport with her). But Brynn has his first ‘puppy party’ tomorrow & we don’t want him to misbehave – at least, not too much. He’s incredibly sharp & now comprehends the commands for Sit, Stay, & Down in both English and Welsh – I wish Tony would take a leaf out of his book!
On returning to the house I discovered to my dismay that both woodburners had gone out. In the still air the fires simply wouldn’t draw despite my best efforts; & we spent much of the day breaking & sorting box after box of kindling in the vain hope of getting the fires sufficiently hot to sustain a burn. Even Tony’s superior skill was not enough to coax a decent flame. In fact we were out of luck until about 5pm, which was frustrating in the extreme as despite the brisk brightness of the afternoon it was decidedly chilly in the house.
I resorted to some warming work outside; but I found my eyes continually straying towards the chimneys in the hope of seeing cheery puffs of smoke; although more often than not their outlines stood stark against the fragile eggshell blue of the wintry sky, so I’d hurry indoors again, muttering imprecations as I wrestled with the odd surly lick of flame hissing across the damp logs. My frustration wasn’t improved by the fact that my throat was becoming increasingly sore; doubtless owing to the damp seeping into my bones after my midnight foray in the recently appalling wet weather.
Evening fell over the frozen ground. Although it had been a sunny afternoon, the low temperature had ensured that in the places where the shallow sun hadn’t reached, thick white frost still bristled on the grass.
The day ended as it had begun; a blaze of apricot & ruby framed the darkening bulk of the distant mountains, reflecting in the windows of the Long Barn as if internally the ancient building was coated in coral & lit with the flames of a hundred soft-glowing candles. A smudge of high cloud hinted at the next inbound spell of weather, as if a giant thumb had rudely smeared it across the perfect stillness of the star-strewn sky. Looking up at the chimneys as we made our way back indoors, I smiled to see curls of smoke seductively wreathing their way skywards…..
Inside the cottage, the fires were by now burning cheerfully; & after a welcome supper of a slow-cooked, hearty casserole I curled up for the evening with the usual depressing mound of paperwork & (owing to my increasingly sore throat) the welcome soothing remedy of a hot toddy. Ugh, paperwork – the temptation to use it to bolster the fires, is almost too overwhelming….now, where did I put those matches…?!