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Cabin fever

January 31, 2014

What a winter. Between the extraordinary extremes of cold in North America and of heat in Australia, lies a small, soggy, squelchy collection of islands: the British Isles, where it has been the wettest January since records began in 1910.

Large swathes of southern England have been under water for weeks, poor things. We have had no serious floods here in our part of Scotland, but the land is completely waterlogged and every day brings more lowering skies and rain.,31.1.14-3

Crows gather in a beech tree to escape the rain.


The relentless monotony of rain has been weighing on my spirits. Light levels have been low for months: perhaps two bright frosty days in the entire year so far, after a grey December. Whether it is the lack of light, or hormones, or a combination of the two that is to blame, I have been developing cabin fever at home.

On Wednesday my husband was working in the city, as he does once a week. (He too gets cabin fever working from home.) I tried to persuade myself that I could have a quietly productive day in the house. I could get on with the laundry. I could do some new year sorting of rooms. I could walk the dogs under the dripping trees, letting the soft greys and greens of the sodden landscape soothe me with their melancholy beauty., 31.1.14-1

Beech husks, raindrops


Who was I kidding. As I contemplated another day alone in the dark house, I began to find it hard to breathe.

Shutting the dogs in the mud room, I grabbed my handbag and coat and fled to the car, heading for town. Heading for the wet and windy local town at the tail-end of the January sales. Heading for brightly-lit shops and the sound of human voices, and frivolous little purchases to appease the sullen child within: gold nail varnish, a new pen, a box of washi tapes. And a damn good cup of coffee made by someone else.

So there I sat in the cafe, savouring a proper coffee of the kind that urbanites can enjoy every day, and basking in the novelty of writing to the background music of chatter and coffee machine and the chink of teaspoons. Humanity. A small taste of civilisation for a sodden country girl, to help kick-start a more positive attitude.,31.1.14-2

Fear not, then, folks! I won’t be indulging in melancholia here any longer. In fact the main reason I haven’t posted much  recently is that, despite low spirits, my head has been so full of ideas that I haven’t known where to start. Creative writing, drawing, journal-making and papercraft are current obsessions and there is much I’d like to share with you there. Also more about the castle itself and some of the vintage treasures it contains: children’s books from the Edwardian era, an army greatcoat from the Home Guard of the Second World War, wonderful old tinware from the Twenties. Plus first cherry blossom, first snowdrops, and the patient winter trees. The year rolls on. You never know, perhaps the sun will even come out one day.,31.1.14-4

First blossom of the year



You might enjoy the idea of escaping rather further than the local cafe in Dreaming of a colder country, or just a little modest brightness in An antidote to grey.




21 Comments leave one →
  1. January 31, 2014 11:54 pm

    You mirror my thoughts about January exactly – it’s been a dreary winter so far!

    • February 2, 2014 12:05 am

      I was woken by a strange light this morning though: the sun, which I have not seen for weeks! Here’s hoping that February will be an improvement then.

  2. February 1, 2014 12:02 am

    Although I am thoroughly tired of the cold and the ice and snow, at least we have had a few sunny days to make it more bearable. I also find it reviving to get out to a cafe once in awhile. But lately, it has been too cold to walk there, so I’ve been hunkering down in bed under the duvet!
    Your list of stories to tell sounds wonderful and I can’t wait for your deluge of postings 🙂

    • February 2, 2014 12:06 am

      ‘Deluge’ is not a tactful word at the moment, VioletSky. 😉 However, I will try to keep your hibernation entertained by at least a trickle of posts!

  3. Melinda permalink
    February 1, 2014 12:16 am

    Wonderful reading ”Cabin Fever”. I too live the dream. Here in our part of the globe it has been very cold with lots of snow since December. Today was the first day that it has been safe to walk we humans and dogs for the last week or so. I can only enjoy hibernation for so long, even with a good cup of coffee!

    • February 2, 2014 12:08 am

      Must say that I reluctantly conceded to my husband yesterday that I’d rather have weeks of wet than cold so extreme you can’t go out of doors. At least I *can* still drive to the shops when necessary. Let’s hope we all get some more temperate weather this month!

  4. Julia Jackson (aka Helva) permalink
    February 1, 2014 10:20 am

    I think we’re all suffering from SAD syndrome here in the UK this winter – well, those of us who live in the regions outside the cities and towns, anyway – it’s dire, especially when there are so many roads still flooded. I’m finding it difficult to get going in the mornings!! At least if we’ve got big 4x4s and are reasonably mobile we can get out a bit, although the gloom tends to put a damper on any enthusiasm for doing anything. Here in mid-Wales, this morning came up bright and clear (with a big golden ball in the sky – i wonder what that was?), but I fear the awful weather forecasted yesterday will be with us ere long – the wind is getting up a bit. We are inland and 700′ up, so flooding isn’t a problem until we get down over the hill to the Severn valley, when it can get interesting. But the folk on the coast are having to batten down the hatches again, only a few weeks after the last nastiness. Pray that it won’t be as bad this time – some communities have had such an awful time. And as for those poor souls on the Somerset Levels – their situation beggars belief. The weather all over the world seems to have gone mad! I did remind ‘Him upstairs’ that He did promise not to flood the earth again, and could He please see fit to give us some nice dry weather (and a bit of a decent cold snap to kill off the ‘bugs’ of all kinds) for a change. We’ll see!

    • February 2, 2014 12:11 am

      Odd, we saw that big golden thing this morning too! Can’t remember what you call it…anyway it disappeared into the usual murk by mid-morning. 😀
      I’m glad you’ve had a word with the Almighty. You’re not the only one wondering whether we should start building an ark. I hope He was listening!

  5. February 1, 2014 4:36 pm

    The rain is lashing against the front windows right now. I feel the same way – I can’t remember the last time I felt lasting sunshine on my face (it could have been Boxing Day). There is something oppressive about having to have the lights on all day. The glimmer of hope this morning was the fact that it was actually starting to get light in the east as I got up, just before 7. And your lovely photo of the first blossom is very welcome! I actually love your photo of the beech husks and raindrops – I never think of taking the camera out when it’s raining but this is proof that I should. I’m looking forward to the treasures you’ve got in store for us! And yes, some sunshine!

    • February 2, 2014 12:14 am

      Must admit I quite like rainy photographs: raindrops in the foreground, distance softened by mist. Just as well really in current conditions! 😀 However I DO so agree that some natural light would be most welcome now, not least so that I can photograph some of the things I promised without having to use a flash even at midday!

  6. karinvandenbergh permalink
    February 2, 2014 8:56 pm

    Cabin fever. I know the feeling, only here it’s because of the paralyzing freezzz!
    I love how the country girl escapes from her dreadful routine in the castle to get a small taste of urban civilization 😉

    • karinvandenbergh permalink
      February 2, 2014 8:58 pm

      Forgot to say Lovely pictures!!

    • February 4, 2014 11:29 pm

      Thank you, Karin. I know, Cinderella escapes the castle for a cup of coffee…tough, huh! 😉

  7. Kerry permalink
    February 2, 2014 9:36 pm

    Nobody likes extremes, it’s also the sameness of every day, and the inability to do our normal activities that gets one down. And the dread of extreme weather leading to natural disasters.

    Now don’t get me wrong it’s not the cold or the rain that is the problem, for us in Melbourne it’s the heat. It’s too hot to garden or to take the dog for a walk (too hot on her little pads poor love, even in our local park) forget house wifely duties, just too darn hot. The fortunate ones are those who can escape to air conditioned offices in the city via our air conditioned trains (unless they have broken down or the rails have buckled in the heat).

    The upside is it’s been school holidays here, so many movies have been watched and a ton of books read.

    Hopefully normal transmission will return shortly.

    • February 4, 2014 11:33 pm

      We’ve heard a bit about the extreme heat in Australia and I don’t envy you one bit. The threat of bush fires must be nerve-racking, on top of the day to day difficulties (your poor wee dog). You’re right, it’s the sameness that is wearing us all down, whether the heat, or the arctic cold in Canada and the US, or the relentless waves of storm systems from the North Atlantic bringing rain on rain on rain to GB. My fingers crossed too for normal transmission resuming!

  8. February 4, 2014 1:07 am

    The picture of the crows in the tree is quite wonderful. It’s been a dreary, wet, cold winter here. I’m looking forward to not having to wipe paws after walks someday.
    There is something nice about escaping to the luxury of a cup of coffee with background music in a cafe during bad weather.

    • February 4, 2014 11:34 pm

      Glad you like the crows – there were dozens and dozens of them gathering there. I think it was the crows’ equivalent of escaping the house for a coffee! 🙂

  9. February 8, 2014 10:06 pm

    Oh, I know, I know. It’s just so monotonous to have day after day of grey and wet and wind, with so little respite. DH and I had to go into town to deal with some business yesterday and joy of joys it was sunny and the sky was blue. 🙂 We even treated ourselves to lunch and came home feeling so much brighter. I look forward to the posts that will surely emerge from your headful of creative ideas.

    PS i almost forgot to say that I really love the image of beech-husks and raindrops.

    • February 9, 2014 12:23 am

      Glad you liked the wet beech trees – just as well really, as there aren’t many dry trees around to photograph at the moment! 🙂
      I just can’t believe the weather that has been hitting the south of England. We have escaped lightly here. Just up the road from us, however, the Cairngorms has more snow than they know what to do with; more than the Alps and certainly more than Sochi! Rather annoying that we have been *just* below the snow line all winter and have had nothing much more than rain and sleet.


  1. Rather a lot of weather | Dancing Beastie

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