It’s always a dilemma at this time of year as to when to do the infamous ‘Xmas food shop’. Too soon (to miss the crowds) and the fresh food goes off before the big day, too late and the shelves are bare. One year we left it until Xmas Eve and were pleased to see a relatively empty car park. When we got inside we found out why! No crowds, no queues, no food!!

This year, bearing in mind I had to attend a medical appointment, and the fact that snow was forecast for later in the week, we decided to go yesterday. The idea being we could do a small ‘fresh food shop’ nearer Xmas, weather permitting.

The overnight temperatures had been something like -12c and even by lunchtime the cold was penetrating and the temperature around -5c. We set off rather gingerly as the roads had not been treated. Soon the state of the roads didn’t seem to matter anymore, as the mundane journey to the supermarket turned into one of the most spectacular trips we’ve ever made.

Every leaf, every twig, every spiders web, every blade of grass was covered in a white ice coating. The trees, hedgerows and fields were simply stunning. We emerged from areas of patchy, freezing fog into wonderful sunlit splendour the like of which neither of us has ever seen before. I simply don’t have the words to describe what we saw. Amazing, brilliant, breathtaking, magnificant, fantastic, majestic?  Simply beautiful.

We arrived home just as it was coming dark after a reasonably successful trip, and un-packed the car illuminated by the  outside light at the back door. Peter went inside and I put the car away, thankful that we had all got there and back in one piece.

As I was walking towards the house something caught my eye in the hedge. For a second I thought our neighbours had extended their Xmas lights from their house and down the length of their drive, but no I was mistaken.

What I could see were natures Xmas lights. Hundreds of tiny ice crystals twinkling in the glow of our outside light, a sight I will never forget. Truly magical.

A winter wonderland.