Here we are over half way through November and beyond my front door step, preparation for Christmas has begun. Shops are laced from roof to floor, towns are decked with Christmas decorations and the tree lights have been switched on. We say it every year how the preparations seem to begin earlier and earlier, but I think it is just a case of how, yet again, we cannot believe how quickly time marches on. I say every year how I will become better prepared and pick up little bits and pieces throughout the course of the year, needless to say, it hasn’t happened yet!We are already feeling the colder climate upon us which is to be expected when winter approaches. Hazy, frosty mornings, breathing out and watching our smokey breath hit the icy, cool air. By late afternoon we see dusk hurried over and crowded out by the darkness that quickly falls all around us. Our daylight hours are shorter and are followed by dreary, dull, long, dark evenings. This year we have been very fortunate in having such a mild season following our disappointing summertime and have been spoilt with our lovely warm autumn sunshine. However, like our little animal friends preparing their homes for hibernation, we too are finding ourselves prepping for winter. Not only have we our warm layers to wear but we also have our cosy, knits of cushions and our fleecy throws close by to cuddle and snuggle with. There is nothing nicer than settling in the house, getting cosy by the fire and having our warm layers all around.Lately we have found ourselves stocking up on our fuel stores; filling our coal bunkers, stacking our sticks, logs, peat and turf and getting ready to heat up our homes. Having previously had a tendency of letting ourselves run too low on our oil heating and at times finding ourselves totally out of oil altogether we have since made a change to gas heating. It was earlier in the year coming together with Flogas that we made the transition from one to another. I can honestly say there was no disruption or upheaval involved. In fact all in all it is a much neater job regarding the tank location and system set up than before. With the fact there is an aerial and signal sensor on each tank, this enables Flogas headquarters to be able to monitor the level and once it falls within the lower quantity on the gauge, a signal is sent, and a delivery of gas is made without us having to do a solitary thing. So really there should be no reason that we ever run out of heating again. Staying on the subject of weather, it has always been my dream ever since I was a little girl, of having a White Christmas. Equally now as a grown up, I still long for the countryside being transformed into a white wonderland full of magic, fantasy and becoming the fairy tale dream. Despite understanding the disruption and upheaval that snow can bring, as well as the other associated factors, such as, difficulty of travel and transport, or monitoring heating in our homes to avoid pipes freezing, to name a few, I just love everything about it. The idea of being snowed in, of having to stay put, rest up, relax and just sit back and enjoy being at home and not having to go anywhere sounds absolutely bliss to me right now.Who can remember the winter of 2010? It is one that I will never forget for the rest of my days. It was something very magical. The first snow fell in a manner that made me sit up and take notice. We were there at the end of the school day, watching as the snow continued to fall. Our pupils were allowed to be collected and leave that little bit earlier to enable them to do so safely, more smoothly and avoid disruption. It was falling thickly and more quickly than I had probably ever seen for some time. Excitedly, I could see that it was lying and growing in depth with every passing minute. But I had to get home. The car journey home ended up ridiculously long, one which normally took around an hour became one that took me close to six hours. In next to no time towns became gridlocked with very little movement happening at all. It is something that interests most of us; how is it that in other countries snow is part of the normal weather climate and they carry on as normal, but yet for us here in Northern Ireland who are not used to having it, it causes almost everything to come to a halt. That December, our school ended up having to remain closed for some time due to the amount of snow that fell. As teachers this is something that dreams are made of! With school exams finished, and nearing our Christmas holidays having that extra treat of snow days thrown in made it that extra bit special.
Over these days, like little children, we took to the snow having snow fights with friends and neighbours, making snowmen and enjoyed being housebound with little else to do. With every new day there was more snowfall, the thick, powdery, white snow lay like a rich blanket. It sat smoothly on top of everything around and everywhere glistened brightly and beautifully like a land of Narnia. It was everything my dreams were made of! The fact of the snow still being there day after day and still looking like new, it was as if we had been transported into a far away land of mystery and wander. Northern Ireland made records that particular year with -18.7 degrees celsius recorded in Castlederg of County Tyrone. The freezing temperatures and the countryside as it stood was something that I had never seen before in my lifetime. Eager to capture the transformations made around I took to the roads and went photographing. The intricate detailing of icicles forming everywhere and the abundance of white, snowy pastures was truly breathtaking. There is a saying ‘a picture paints a thousand words’, and for me to tell the story of this time does just that.Christmas decorating in our home will be happening in another couple of weeks. My hubby being a typical male does not particularly enjoy this part (to be honest I probably can’t blame him as there is an awful lot) however his job only entails getting all the boxes lifted down from the roofspace. At a push, he might help untangle the Christmas lights, that we were sure were untangled when we put them away but for me who does all the decorating, once they are down – I love it! What is not to love about the most magical time of the year?! Watching ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, sipping some mulled punch, eating mince pies and all eagerly awaiting the arrival of Eric our Elf to arrive on the first day of December. Like every year, as we get ready to embrace winter, putting out our wreath and staring beyond, I will let my imagination wander to the magical, fairy tale land of Narnia and will be dreaming of a White Christmas yet again.
“One day, you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia