Where’s winter?

The tease of snow we had in France at the end of 2010 had me leaping with joy that winter was going to be white and cold, really cold.  I could hear the giggles and see the delighted faces of the children sledding down the gentle slopes,  the Eiffel Tower off on the horizon.  We revamped the supply of sleds and purchased snow suits in December when there were continuous days of magical white dust covering the ground.  It seemed winter would bring in the New Year in spectacular style. With pink cheeks and cold toes, we’d come inside and wrap our hands around large glasses of freshly brewed vin chaude, warming them and sending the chill away.   We’d go crazy at the most divine muffins that have ever made an appearance from my trusty oven.

We practiced it a few times in the company of friends and the test runs were nothing short of perfect.  It worked fabulously until something went wrong, and terribly wrong at that.

Winter disappeared!

Whilst some will say the days have been grey and often humid, they have, but rarely cold enough to be known as ‘winter’.  Blue skies are now rolling in accompanied by rising temperatures, and the Clayton’s winter – the winter you have when you’re not having one, is on the verge of disappearing into spring.

Seven beautiful swans graced the pond for the month of January, until sadly, a fox picked them off one by one. They might have been saved had winter shown up and chased them south.

Likewise, these birds in Normandy forgot to fly away, and now there’s no need.

I’m feeling a little cheated and wanting just a few more weeks of cold, and another generous bout of snow would be appreciated too.  Right now though, I’m left wondering, where’s winter?


Escape to the winter grey of the Calvados

There’s no escaping the grey in France during winter. 

From October through till April, everywhere you look,  cloud lingers low and there’s a dampness in the air.   The sun makes the rarest of appearances, her warm glow tucked away, out of sight.  People wrap up heavy to match the sombre colour of the skyline. 

Not someone to be bothered by winter, I embrace it.  My favourite season came like a built-in wardrobe with coats and chunky scarves, gloves, pink cheeks that glow when everyone returns to the warm air from the chill outside.  Hot chocolates and vin chaud, cider and galettes.

It also happens to be the time when I most prefer the ocean.  And when it all comes together like a Saturday trifecta, there’s only one thing to do.  Jump in the car and head to the Calvados.  Unlike the summer rush, it’s mostly void of tourists. With the exception of a few cars making their return to the UK, there are no crowds lounging about the harbour, no long waits to get into one of the quaint, fisherman restaurants.  The waters are calm, the beaches littered with pebbles and shells waiting to be collected by pint-sized fingers.

The grey slate buildings blend perfectly with the sky, the ocean, the lunch, and the quiet harbour.  It’s a little corner of heaven, and my favourite escape.