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Amaryllis’ Midwinter Break

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Trudging homeward last night through post-blizzard Notting hill, I was belatedly reminded of the carol ‘in the Bleak Mid Winter’. I always thought that carol lived up to it’s name – give me some ding dong bells and merry gentlemen any day – but last night it felt pretty apposite.


But nobody could call what I woke up to this morning bleak in the slightest: bright, cold sunshine and perfect icing sugar snow over everything, covering all the ugly cars and other things unsightly to my aesthetic eyes. My cats were astonished at the sight of this new world and turned quizzical gazes my way. I did not hesitate to further their education in precipitation, and satisfied they slunk back to the hot spots under the radiator. Later, braving the outdoors, I was not alone; brightly clothed children stood out on the snowy slopes, all seemingly only awaiting this perfect day to bring forth their sledges. This being my first experience of snow of this purity and abundance since moving from the city, where snow is more commonly known as sludge, I was entranced: even the bitter wind blowing off the sea creating treacherous drifts (which I like to feel gave me a deeper understanding of what captain Scott and his men went through) was rendered weird and wonderful by the nearby sight of waves crashing onto a snowy beach.


Actually, what I think the carol is referring to is the bleakness of trying to use public transport in this sort of weather… Before a flake had fallen, train operators were cancelling services and issuing dire warnings to be home before 6 o’clock that evening. I imagined at least a sort of
Day after Tomorrow‘ scenario and fretted a bit about my non-existent fire on which to throw all my books but actually it was because train services would cease – just in case…


I made it in to work the first day of snow ignoring advice telling me not to travel unless ABSOLUTELY necessary and with constant, head-splitting reassurance that snow and ice precautions were in place, i.e. Cancellations and severe delays despite the fact there was actually no snow and ice other than on the coast. I didn’t get in today because, frankly, I am traumatised by all the reports and recommendations and need to go and stock pile the necessities, wine, maltesers etc because tomorrow is going to be EVEN WORSE!


My books of the week are: Man With A Seagull On His Head by Harriet Paige; I loved this not just because it is set practically on my much misrepresented doorstep, but because it is a quietly luminous book about lonely people and art.


My other book is The Book Of Silence by Sara Maitland which is not new but is even more relevant in a world of increasing noise. I may start giving out copies on the train starting with the ‘quiet’ carriage…

About Amaryllis


Amaryllis is our bookshop blogger.


Her pen name is taken from Alice Thomas Ellis’ Other Side of the Fire, which is unfortunately and scandalously out of print. One of the funniest bits in the book is the bodice-ripper that one of the characters is writing and the female - who slays the men with one toss of her raven locks and one glance from her fiery green eyes as she strides among the glens, faithful wolfhound by her side - is Amaryllis! And the name just seemed to suit so here we are.

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