The difference a Season Makes
It's quite something to visit a place during different seasons. Especially in a country where the seasons are extreme and well defined. In Melbourne it's pretty mild, I state that whilst sitting in blazing 37 degree celsius heat. But really it is. We don't see many frosts any more and never any snow, though we do get the occasional flood now. But what I really mean is that the ground never goes completely bare when everything dies down and all the trees are never completely defoliated in Winter.
The days during Summer in Britain are very very long. Not hot mind you but the Sun rises at 4am and sets around 9-10pm in the evening. During Winter it's the exact opposite. You wander into work in the dark and leave at the end of the day in the dark. The sun rises at 8am and then it's dark again by 4.30pm in the afternoon. You can leave your milk out on the windowsill instead of putting it in the fridge (yes we used to do this at work in London) and the trees are gnarly and spooky looking. Every car has an ice scraper in the glove box and you slip easily on the footpaths when the snow turns to hard ice. Motorways grind to a halt with the fog and it really is impossible to get around.
I've been to Stratford Upon Avon during the peak of Summer but this time decided to visit during the depths of Winter. I wanted to see what happens to the gardens there and also to experience the light. I also wanted to avoid the crowds. Light is so different in Europe compared to Australia. It's like being under a giant softbox and is absolutely beautiful. Think Dutch paintings. Johannes Vermeer. When I lived there I kept repeating, 'the light it's so beautiful'. It just is. Jane Campion can tell you that.
What a joy it was to see this wonderful town in Winter. I only went for one day, there was no time to stay, and heavy frosts covered the gardens and the soil became frozen as well as the ponds. Just a crust on the top, but it was magical as the large birds swam through it and broke it to pieces. Do they not get cold!! The statue of Falstaff had his whiskers licked by frost. Brrr !! It was damn cold!! Then the sun came out and in moments stole it all away.