The snow play and the lost hill

The met office finally got it right for my patch this weekend. We had lots of snow on Friday night and now it has all gone. It melted almost as fast as it arrived. Yesterday could have been our last opportunity of the season for snow related playtimes.IMG_1474IMG_1445 IMG_1449 IMG_1450 IMG_1451 IMG_1461These were some of out antics from last weekend.

If you live in a climate where living with snow is a regular occurrence the British obsession with it must seem strange. We pore over weather forecasts, worrying about driving to work and if the schools will be closed. Children (and -ahem- some adults) stay awake at night, constantly peeking out of the window to see if there are any flakes falling yet. We moan or get excited about it in equal measures. We don’t really cope with it well, and it’s not surprising really is it? Our snowfall is unpredictable, some years there is barely any. Hardly worth investing in special car tyres for example. We live on a crowded island too. Our roads only just cope with the volume of traffic at the best of times. Add a blizzard and a few crashes and there’s bound to be mayhem.

But, I still love snow. It’s one of those things that gives me a feeling of childish excitement even though I’m now a parent. I used to share this excitement with my Dad. He loved to get out and play in it and, unluckily for the rest of us, was a mean shot with a snowball. I could rely on my Dad to take me sledging whenever it snowed, even if it was a school night. I’m sure we must have been with my Mum and Brother but I don’t have memories of that. What I do have memories of is heading off to our local sledging spot, often in the dark.

Dad prided himself on finding the best spot. He didn’t necessarily want to go down a steep slope like most of the other people on our local golf course. For him it was all about how long you could spend going down hill. To be fair, he also avoided the crowds because he was a teacher in the local secondary school and didn’t really want to be among the pupils in his spare time! So Dad and I had our own private hill and it did seem like a good long ride down to the bottom. There was a pond near the bottom that you had to be aware of. Falling in to that would have been a disaster but, at the time, it just added to the adrenalin rush. Sometimes Dad would go down the hill on his own while I waited at the top but more often than not, he would lie on his front on the sledge and I would lie on top, holding on to his shoulders. Dad did the steering by sticking his toes into the snow and by leaning one way and another. It was such a thrill to be barrelling down hill, feeling as if I was teetering precariously on top of this speeding sledge. It is such a vivid memory for me.

Now that I am taking my own children sledging I wish I could find that hill. It can’t have changed. The little conifers that we used to pass through to get to it must be considerably bigger but it must still be there. Somehow I just can’t seem to work out which hill it was that we used to use. Yesterday, despite not being able to find the hill, I did resurrect Dad’s sledging technique. Going downhill fast with your face inches from the snow is really the only way to go sledging and I think I have passed on this family tradition to another generation.IMG_1587


52 weeks of happy: 3/52

Four things that have made me happy this week are…IMG_60671. Alternative transport on the school run.

The happiest thing about this picture is that I am not the one pulling the sledges.
IMG_60512. Three children playing together happily (sorry this is a terrible photo, I know).

This makes me REALLY happy as it doesn’t happen all that often. This was another no TV night though, which certainly helps. There have been other, snow related moments of play that have made me happy this week but I can feel an extended, snow tribute post coming on so I’ll save those pictures.IMG_60823. My thrifty lemon and elderflower jelly was put to good use in a cream sponge cake.

I was a bit unsure about how well it had set but it is a lovely texture for glazing cakes. Earlier on this week The Husband used it on top of a baked cheesecake. He took it to work to (belatedly) celebrate his birthday. He had more than one marriage proposal on the strength of it, though I’m sure it was his baking not my jelly that was responsible for that.IMG_60944. Well risen Yorkshire puddings made into individual toad in the hole.

I never got Yorkshire puddings right until I found this recipe. I have never had a dud batch since. Seeing them rise almost impossibly high makes me happy every time. Eating them gives a certain amount of pleasure too.

Babykins’ first Snow

I love snow. I still get excited by it. I still anticipate it, hardly daring to hope that it will arrive.

I watched the weather forecast on Friday night and saw the enormous band of snow that was due to cross the country the next afternoon.

Almost bang on time, flakes started to fall at two o’clock, as I took my boys out to visit our friends. I don’t think Babykins was very impressed by the cold wind blowing into his face. His cruel mother wanted him to experience snow so didn’t put the rain cover on the pushchair.

By the time I went back out again at three o’clock to collect the Middle Miss from her dancing lesson, there was a covering of snow. She skipped along with me all the way back to our friends house. She didn’t care about the gusty wind, she just kept saying “I can’t believe this snow is here”. Thank goodness I had had the foresight to send her off to class with her warm clothes and snow boots. By now the snow was falling so fast that it really would have been cruel to expose poor little Babykins to it.

As forecast, the snow fell almost continuously until about nine p.m. I took these photos around midnight, just before I went to bed after a rare night out with my girl friends.

Can you see the little foot prints to the right of the photo? I’ve got a suspicion there’s a resident mouse in the garden, swiping the seed and dried fruit from the bird food dishes (where the faint trace of circles are).

Taking pictures of snow at night time is a technical challenge that I have not yet conquered.

Of course this morning, the fun really started. Son Number One and the Middle Miss had a great time pulling each other and the sledge up and down the street. They shovelled the snow off the drive into a huge pile  castle.

Babykins seemed to really enjoy his first snowy experience. I wish I could post the video of him being pulled along in the sledge. He showed his babyish signs of appreciation: a big smile and kicking legs. Fortunately, because he is baby three, we had welly boots at the ready and he made his debut walk through the snow.

He coped extremely well but by ten-thirty he was ready for a nap. So was I if the truth be told but you don’t get the chance to go sledging every day. Moreover, you don’t get the chance to do it with some of your oldest, out-of-town friends and their children.

Who had the most fun do you think?

Edited to add: Babykins does own mittens, he just keeps pulling them off. Can anyone tell me if my use of the apostrophe is correct in the title?