It turns out to be yet another beautifully frozen morning, but with a change. Mild pockets of air peel away my layers as I run. It’s something of a surprise – like when swimming in the open sea and suddenly slipping into a shaft of soft warm water from cold – or the tell-tale heat of a loose stream of yellow (seen too late) in a municipal swimming pool.
Lately, it’s been a chilled world of snow clouds and crisp blue skies, spectre mists and icy, spiky frost. Tom the Snowman is still standing, a little sad now he’s lost his head.
But today seems different. I stagger to a stop at Knole House to the relief of my wobbling jelly legs. I’m red in the face and revel in the glow of the sun – unlike some men who are taking a break from work on the (almost) 600 years old house. They don’t seem to share my endorphin-filled enthusiasm for today’s slight edging towards spring. Instead they hunker down in their vans refuelling with flasks of hot coffee and munching crispbreads dunked in pots of houmous.
But they are happy for me to take their photograph (I explain I have a small blog, and need to practise taking pictures of everyday life). The first image is deemed unacceptable – too much eating going on – so I snap a couple more. And together we agree on this one.
Now coldness starts to seep under my skin, and I want to heed the call for coffee. So I thank the men and trot off to sit in the warmth of Knole’s café.
Who am I trying to kid? Spring hasn’t arrived just yet …