Every year for about six weeks I check the snow situation in Finland hourly. I gaze at the webcam images religiously and try to determine what is going on. I message friends. I hope. I think I have even prayed occasionally. The Christmas of 2013 stands out as particularly bleak – rain, no snow – while Christmas of 2014 was a delight. This year was touch and go. I arrived late in the evening, there was four inches of snow, and the temperature was at a rather delightful -18°C. Then it got warm. On Christmas Day, all the snow almost melted away. But I got to enjoy many enough cold days and frozen toes to feel happy about winter.
Making presents. This scatter cushion cover was a last-minute idea, a gift to my godmother. This rather stretched my skills, which is good, and I liked the end result enough to buy yarn to make another. Christmas trees.
We built a fire. Christmas Eve.
…and then it got cold. On Christmas day, it rained. By 28th December the temperature had dropped so low that the sea froze over. The little speck on the horizon, just right from the centre, is another photographer, on the ice with his tripod and kit – I stood on the shore and wondered if I’m a special sort of wimp for not being brave enough even to step on the ice? Sunset.
Cold, golden winter sun.
Curtain call at the ROH. I went to see the rather magnificent Robert Carsen production of Poulenc’s Carmelites. The opera itself is one of those one wouldn’t listen to on CD, but on stage it works. Every staging in the past twenty years owns something to this one, it seems, and it’s easy to see why. The minimalist approach, period costumes on an empty stage, use of the ensemble to define the space are thoroughly thought of, and the dramatic impact is breathtaking. Bonus points for Sir Thomas Allen in a bright crimson costume – I hear ROH staged this production on his request.
The streets are sparkling with litter and confetti, and everywhere there are bruised carnations and empty champagne bottles. Can only be Trinity and exam time in Oxford.