Before locking the front door I stepped out into the porch – and encountered the scent of winter: fog, frost and ice, a sense of darkness all around, chill, close to me and, yes, with the warmth at my back from my snug house, a sense of safety.
My mind went back more than 40 years. Neither of my children had started school. ‘Let’s go out and count the Christmas trees we can see in the windows’, I said to them. And off we went, up and down the quiet suburban roads – and we counted the trees in the windows and loved the lights on them.
And then we came home.We followed the same path until Christmas Day came.
The park at the back of our garden was long closed. In the summer its paddling pool was full of chattering children.
We went to the seaside one year and went on to the beach. ‘Big bapool’ said our younger daughter, as she saw the sea for the first time. ‘Big Paddling Pool.’