The snowdrops have disappeared completely and some puzzled daffodils are just poking tentative green shoots through the icy white. The horses wade carefully through the dirty snow and sucking mud, comforting themselves with the good hay. They are actually staying very calm and fatalistic, although I do think my dear mare must be dreaming of the southern springs she used to know. There’s no question of doing any actual work with them, the ground is too treacherous, so we just feed them and gentle them and hope for better days.
I make a bewildering variety of soups, in a last-ditch effort to stay warm, and feel passionately grateful that the power is still on. The poor people of Arran have been without electricity since Friday, and despite a team of 150 engineers being shipped in to the island, there is no end in sight. Astonishing pictures of buckled pylons and twelve-foot-high drifts litter the internet.
Even with my radiators blazing and my boiler cranking away like a Trojan, my house still carries a chill. I think of the old, fierce winters, the famous freeze of 1947, when snow fell every day from January 22nd to March 17th. There would have been hardly any central heating in those days. I wonder how the poor people of Blighty managed. They would have been exhausted from the war; rationing was still in full force. They must have had to call on every last ounce of Blitz spirit.
One of my neighbours is so beaten by the cold that she finally snapped, got on the internet at midnight, and booked a ticket to Majorca. I look at their forecast. Twenty toasting degrees. I can hardly even imagine what that must feel like.
Still, there is proper British stoicism to draw on. The stoic runs through the character of North-East Scotland like the granite that is so much a feature of the landscape here. I admit that I have been freely resorting to cake. No doubt a little whisky may also be prescribed. But there’s nothing for it but to keep bashing on.