Britain braced for blizzards, says a headline in The Times, above a photograph of a glum-faced member of the household cavalry sitting on a stoical horse while snowflakes fall around them. There was a photo of Russell Square too, and in places the snow was so thick that the grass barely poked through it. Greater Anglia has already preemptively introduced a reduced timetable until Friday. Ah well, we shall see. I think that tonight it probably is going to snow properly. So far we have merely had spasmodic flurries, heavy enough to send the cats stomping back indoors, but not enough to settle.
Still, it is jolly cold. I belatedly rescued the pots of cyclamen from the porch and stood them in the hall for the duration. They are not really frost hardy, and the one nearest the front already got caught a couple of nights ago, prompting me to shuffle all the pots to the very back of the porch to keep them from the worst of the cold, but this morning I took pity on them.
I kept my word and made nourishing soup for lunch and cleaned the kitchen. The Systems Administrator, who had ventured out to cut more firewood, appeared in the kitchen and said Ah, I had made soup, what sort was it? but I couldn't decide which the dominant ingredient was to give a concise answer. There was an onion and a large carrot, and some red lentils and tomato paste, and I used a pot of chicken stock that had been in the freezer for rather a long time but tasted OK when I chiselled a little frozen piece off with a teaspoon. It was flavoured with thyme, black pepper and cumin, only when I first checked the flavour it seemed rather mere, so I added more tomato paste and thyme, a tiny nip of chilli pepper and a pinch of salt. That seemed to do the trick. We ate all of it, but after a morning spent cutting wood the SA would probably have eaten hotted-up wallpaper paste.
Having just seen a blackbird trying to reach into the tits' fat ball feeder I went out to put a couple of broken-up fat balls on the bird table for it. I found the table stripped completely bare, although I covered it this morning with the last of a bag of something sold as robin mix, topped up with extra sunflower hearts. In normal winter weather they stop off at the table, but are choosy about which bits of the mixture they will eat, picking out their favourites and leaving the little round yellow seeds that seem to be included in every brand.