For over six weeks we had sunshine. The last ten days the thaw really began. First the southern and easterly facing slopes lost their snow. The days grew appreciably longer. The streams emerged from their icy prisons. The water from the melting snow froze at night and by day there was water and mud everywhere on the ground still frozen hard. In the village gardens snowdrops appeared. The birds began to sing in the mornings. The snow came crashing down from the roofs. Just when the last roof was clear rain came. It was strange to hear the sound after so many weeks. It rained just in time to spoil the weekend carnival processions in the towns.

But by Shrove Tuesday the sun was shining again warmer than ever. The families of the village had organised a carnival just for the youngest children. From six months to six years they dressed up and paraded through the streets. The older children, particularly the girls, did not want to be left out. They had their faces painted and their hair coloured and on blade skates or scooters weaved in and out of the procession of children and mothers pushing prams. The winter man was burnt before everyone went to feast on cakes and hot wine.

10th March 2003