We've just got back from a trip 'oop north - to the hinterland of industrial Lancashire where town begrudgingly makes way for countryside. We left Shropshire's soft rolling hills and lush valleys, where Hawthorn is already unfolding delicate new leaves, and entered a harder terrain of rugged rising moorland and rain blackened stone. The roaring-ugly M6 motorway took us to Bolton, Blackrod, Chorley, Limbrick and the intriguingly named Anglezark; places where the landscape has a stark brutality in this leafless period - especially as seen today under leaden skies and through icy rain that pricked our skin like needles.
We had a lovely evening with friends - a sort of belated Christmas get-together - snug before the fire, well fed and wined. All gossiped out. Thanks J & B for your wonderful hospitality.
The fierce wind which crashed against the house all night, rattling the sash windows followed us home and now carries flurries of snow across Badnage Wood. Nearly a white-out. There is not a sheep in sight. They've tucked themselves down into the dingle and out of the wind. Alan has lit the woodburner and we are snug and warm indoors, again.