In the main this winter has been mild. And dry too so far, especially in contrast to the appalling floods of last year. But we did get a sprinkling of snow a few weeks ago, which, to an African native like myself, still brings little surge of guilty pleasure. I know it can make life difficult; transport can be tricky; appropriate clothing becomes essential; it quickly turns to slush and gets messy – but doesn’t it look beautiful? Like a liberal application of fairy dust it adds magic to the landscape; a pure white beauty and a sense of peace and stillness. The drabness of an empty winter garden is transformed as ordinary outdoor furniture and plants take on the exotic mantel of sculptures. And I don’t know about any of your pets, but our springer Fina, relishes yomping through the fluffy, unfamiliar coldness. Winter really isn’t winter without at least one covering.