It has been very cold indeed this week.
The weather has gone from 'quite bracing, but then it is December' straight to the Siberian ice fields in a blink, & has stopped there for the duration.
Clearly this has been no weather to be outside messing about constructing wooden fruit beds at the Hill - in fact it was all I could do to venture out to choose a Christmas tree from the garden centre.
I chose a 'Norway spruce' as being a pleasing shape, a nice height, within the budget & - as a bonus - it was the same sort of the tree that I remember having when I was little.
When it was delivered the next day in its net & left a tiny trail of needles through the hall, I also remembered that it is these trees that we had in my childhood which are all bare branches by Boxing day.
What we know now, though, is that Christmas trees are thirsty & as long as you put them in a natty tree stand - such as the one I have - which incorporates a reservoir of water, they will keep their needles that much longer.
Until I was ready to put it up this weekend, it's been sitting in a bucket of water in the courtyard garden. I didn't account for the severity of the cold weather, however, and when I lifted it out the bucket to bring in the house, I ended up holding a very, very big ice lolly with the tree as the stick.
If I had left it to thaw by itself, I'd not have had a Christmas tree up until about March, so I gave it a big series of whacks on the flags which cracked the ice & released the trunk - & apart from having to vacuum up the trail of needles from the courtyard through the kitchen & hall into the lounge after I'd finished decorating the tree I am very pleased with the result.
It's Christmas day on Friday - I'd rather planned to have leeks, parsnips & maybe a few Brussels sprouts from the Hill as part of lunch, so I'm hoping that they are not frozen solid...