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.
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.
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.
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.