The wind is so strong it blows the catkins from the branches. They lie there on the ground, miniature lambs' tails discarded in muddy tracks.
The wind is so cold, so bitterly cold, it hits your cheekbones like a sinus infection.
Up at Mapperton, the wind whooshes through the trees and it feels as if the corrugated roof of the Pot Shop might just take off. In the stone passageway to the office, the gardeners are in formation, amateur sleuths in heavy boots following a trail of footprints. They are trying to track down the person who removed one of the large stones at the top of the driveway in the night. Next to the spot was a single footprint, with a pointy toe and stiletto heel.
They see me and look accusingly at my feet. Fortunately, I am wearing big, fat Ugg boots - the ones I vowed never to wear out of the house because they are so unflattering. They are called Ugg because they're ugly. They are also very warm.
The gardeners march on and try to find more clues.
Meanwhile, a real thief is accosted in the churchyard, where the only grave belongs to a former lady of the manor. The gardeners think there has been a flurry of fluffy, white snow. Closer inspecton reveals a sparrowhawk blatantly plucking the feathers from one of the doves that last week was tapdancing on the Pot Shop roof. Challenged by the handyman, the sparrowhawk takes off with his still-warm prize. It is looking for a good place to eat.
Talking of which, the cafe is finally due to open in time for Easter, following refurbishment and a change of management. Now watch the crowds descend like sparrowhawks on this magical place. No more book reading behind the counter for me.
I'll keep you posted
Love Maddie x