Sometimes my heart just sinks when the alarm goes off on Saturday morning, quietly but no less insistently than during the week. But I'm supposed to have a lie-in, I think to myself, and curl down even further under the duvet. On and on drones Farming Today. Eventually the thought of starvation forces me to get up and dress up. Cotton camisole, short sleeve cotton tee shirt, long sleeve fleecy zip-up, sleeveless body warmer, by which time I'm in the kitchen making a hurried cup of tea and snatching a bit of last night's takeaway for a breakfast eaten on the way out to the car.
I keep a box in the boot filled with hand tools and at this time of year, a selection of woollen hats and waterproof gloves. I keep my boots and jacket in the laundry room near the radiator, so I start my day warm from head to toe.
What I always forget to remove before stepping out into the winter garden, are my earrings. I have some diamond studs, which pretty much stay on all the time, and don't present too much of an earlobe chill factor. My gold studs are quite another matter. The damned things sit like tiny, invisible detonators waiting for the moment of maximum inconvenience. I was up a ladder on Saturday morning, tying in a fabulously wayward grape vine, day dreaming of Christmas wreaths I'll make with the prunings, when the detters chose to go off. Cold earring-induced earache is horrible. It comes on suddenly and you really can't get your gloves off quick enough. Then you have to go through the business of rubbing your hands together and blowing on them because they're too cold to feel the butterflies properly, and if you drop them when you're half way up your ladder you can kiss them goodbye... Eventually you get them off and zip them away into your inside jacket pocket, pull your hat right down over your ears, glove up and get back to work.
Not that I'm complaining. Pruning that grape vine completed my horticultural year. With both Beloved Firstborn and Merci Beaucoup Enfant Deux at university this year, and two lots of halls' fees, I front loaded this year with lucrative design work. All drawing board and little spade work, and this academic year's halls' fees are now safely tucked up in the bank earning zero interest. So I'd rather forgotten how cold autumn and winter gardening becomes.
Back home in time for lunch, and there's still a bit of lamb biryani and naan. A scaldingly hot cup of tea and a sit down in the kitchen chair beside the radiator quickly restores my inner warmth, and then I begin peeling off the layers.
Image: Winter Mist by Miranda Halsby, on sale at Abbott & Holder