Finally, seasonal weather. A crisp Sunday, with an exciting dusting of snow, was a perfect setting for a family dander through the Pan Handle (intriguingly named suburban play park, cycle path and dog walkers’ paradise).

Pan Handle trees

Regrettably, there was not enough snow to make the igloo requested by our eldest. However, there was plenty to deck lightly the trees, swings and rooftops. Also, no matter how light the covering, you will always get keen groups out massing for snowbattle. We witnessed a minor snowball skirmish, which the three runners in the pic below were scampering to join. Such enthusiasm has to be applauded. One boy kept throwing himself to the ground shouting ‘Take cover!’, even when there was clearly no incoming.

Boys keep slinging

Other kids followed different agendas. This huge ball was being exported across country somewhere, to form part of some sort of snowhenge:

Big plans

No, really – a good half mile up the path we passed the builder, who turned out to be a very cheery soul called Sam. He agreed to let us capture his Sisyphean endeavour for posterity, before rolling the increasingly leafy sphere off round the corner and on to who knows where.


By the time we came back from the shop the temperature had risen enough to melt the ground layer of snow, but as we ambled, a light breeze sent showers of flakes from the trees on to the path ahead.

We cracked ice shards against the tarmac before heading home to wassail the apple tree in the garden.

[by guest writer Dr Anna Logie]

People sometimes view crises such as breakdowns or heart attacks as externally-imposed events. There may often be a period of denial, yearning to return to how it was before. Drinking, drug taking, smoking, eating whatever you want, running up the credit card, watching telly all night, the pub after work… why would one not want to pursue activities that bring pleasure? Who wants to live a boring life? Yet it should be clearly understood that whatever combination of actions were being taken led to this particular point of ill health. Environmental and personal, it is all connected, suggesting that different behaviour is required to avoid a continuation of the symptoms.

It is important to emphasise, with reference to behaviour, that there should be no unnecessary extrapolations of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ behaviour. This kind of polar terminology is likely to exacerbate any stress, worry or symptoms someone may be experiencing. Perhaps it is more sensible to talk of probabilities, in that x behaviour is more likely than y behaviour to cause z action. One can then ask, ‘is z a desirable state?’ It would be perfectly possible to continue behaving in the same ways, but consequently more likely that the same outcomes continue to occur.

From immediate and extended family and friends, support and understanding, rather than judgement or interference, are crucial. Be involved. On a personal basis, people should avoid reacting radically, for example with crash dieting, a new religion or other strenuous activity. With a knee injury, you cannot have a knee-jerk reaction. If one’s body is used to being used in a certain way, shocks of sudden difference or enforced variation may cause further trauma.

Insinuate and instigate lasting change, in physical and mental behaviour. It may be for as little as one hour a week, initially, exercise of some kind, discussion, meditation. However, if someone has serious physical/mental problems, if they survive and overcome crisis, it must change their life.

In the interests of protecting the environment, here is a recycled Groundhog Day meditation, in keeping with the repetitious genius of both the film and the meteorological forecasting festival.

The article first emerged blinking from the Gobbler’s Knob of my mind two years hence, as seen on slalom-speaking:

“Today is ‘Groundhog Day’, both in the ‘here we are at work again, let it end, let it end! like in the film starring Bill Murray’ sense, and in the actual-festival-in-America sense.

Proving that Americans can do whimsy as well as the next anthropomorphed rodent, the massy marmoset Punxsutawney Phil emerged – live via webcam! – from the burrow at Gobbler’s Knob – NO, REALLY – in his official capacity as Prognosticator of Prognosticators to project an early spring, (which might be due to global warming, but the President of the Inner Circle was being loose with the translation from Groundhoguese to avoid controversy with the 15,000-odd strong crowd that had turned up). Loud cheers and feasting commenced. And rightly so, given that it is only the 14th early spring announced in 111 recorded predictions.

Phil, 112, noted it had been ‘a good gig’, and promises to be back in the summer with his new game show ‘How Much Wood Can YOU Chuck?'”

Phil (now 115) predicts six more weeks of winter for 2010.