I should be shopping but a few centimetres of snow and the town has ground to a halt and the bloke on local radio basically advised anyone driving here to turn round and go home. I wish I’d gone yesterday. Our road is a cul-de-sac and never gets gritted so now it’s only good for toboggans and heavy boots (or 4x4s I suppose).

Yesterday was the shortest day of the year – in other words it was the Winter Solstice.  It only occurred to me later on yesterday that the solstice is actually only a moment in time rather than a whole day. The earth is constantly moving so even now daylight is beginning to creep across the Arctic circle. So, despite the fresh fall of snow we’ve had today, Summer is on its way!

Confusingly, though, the sunrise does not start to get any earlier until the New Year even though sunset has already started to get a little later. It’s all to do with the fact that the orbit of the earth is not a perfect circle and that the solstice is not neatly placed at one end of the slightly oval orbit. Confusing and hard to picture.

The other day I explained to someone that there is one star in the sky (Northern hemisphere) that appears not to move and that all the other stars go round it. If you can find that star, the Pole Star, you can find which direction North is – and you can find other constellations. She got the idea more quickly than I ever did. It came out a few days’ later, though, that she thought that said Pole Star was the centre of the universe (because everything revolved around it) and that required even more explanation and hand waving.

In the meantime the rest of the family have abandoned the chores and have gone out to play in the snow instead. At least I have the choice whether to join them and am not stuck in a snowbound traffic jam somewhere!

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