It was Percy Bysshe Shelley who first asked that question and it's one I ask myself quite regularly about this time of the year. Winter in England - and by 'winter' I mean the months of November, December, January and February - tend to be dank and dreary with none of the crisp, blue skies that we associate with, say, Switzerland. But neither do we get the snow that they have in the Swiss Alps. Not usually, anyway. At this time of the year it is hard to imagine myself walking the dog in t-shirt, shorts and deck shoes without socks. (That would be me wearing the clothes - not the dog.) The Old Bat assures me that it has happened!
Mind you, this winter has not been cold. Wet, certainly, but not cold. Although I have taken to wearing a cap and gloves when walking the dog I have not yet brought the scarf out of mothballs. As I say, it has been wet. No doubt we shall be hearing that last month was the wettest December since sometime in the past, although I would have expected that to have been news by now so maybe it wasn't. It just felt like it - especially to all those poor souls whose houses have been flooded. And still this past weekend there were traffic diversions and rail delays due to flooding, and that was in Sussex, hardly a county prone to the problem.
It has been noticeable that there have been fewer birds such as goldfinches and greenfinches in the garden, presumably because there has been ample food for them in the countryside. I have seen the first daffodil in bloom (those outside Tony's house are particularly early every year - sometimes even before Christmas) and the bluebells have sent leaves two or three inches out of the ground. There are robins singing in the park all year round but they have been joined now by blackbirds, it seemed like dozens of them this morning, and I have seen a wood pigeon performing his courtship routine. Or maybe he was just practicing.
But we must not be complacent. There is still plenty of time for winter to hit us! These pictures demonstrate that. The first was taken on a Saturday afternoon in February 2012 as we were driving through Normandy, the second the following morning only a few miles away.