On the two days leading up to the cold snowy patch I was writing an article about St Vincent and the Grenadines. I was recalling Caribbean beaches, turquoise waters, breakfasts of papaya and mango and lazy days that end when the enormous red sun drops dramatically into the sea. I longed to be there, doing nothing. My mother and stepfather have recently retired from living in the West Indies and so my fairly regular visits will sadly cease.
However the snow really cheered us all up, and yesterday it was as though we had been whisked through Europe on a speedy Winter Wonderland holiday. The children had the day off school so we drove to Richmond Park which was mostly closed because they were culling the deer. We moved in slow traffic watching children sliding down hills, but there was nowhere to park and sadly we had no sleigh or tray anyway. We then drove through hilly Roehampton, which looked like Switzerland as all the tall alpine-like trees were dipped in snow.
We stopped in Barnes to throw snowballs and slide off for an authentic Italian lunch in a little café that served delicious pasta. Finally we walked in Chiswick Park and watched a heron standing by the side of the frozen lake and swans dipping in and out of a small patch of thawed lake, while moorhen slipped on the ice. The whole scene somehow reminded me of Austria, don’t ask me why.
As well as writing articles, I am about a third of the way through a novel which is based in Italy. I love the Italians. I love their food, art, architecture, language, landscape. I once briefly lived in Rome in my early twenties and used to go regularly to stay with the uncle of a friend near Sienna. We rented a house for a couple of summers near Lucca, where I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
My novel is based in Tuscany and so for research I am dipping in and out of a fantastic book called Beaneaters and bread Soup, by Lori De Mori and Jason Lowe, published by Quadrille. It will be out in May in paperback with the title, The Real Flavour of Tuscany. It has chapters on different Tuscan characters - a beekeeper, chili collector, tripe vendor, restaurant owner etc. accompanied by great portraits and recipes that literally make my mouth water.
Hurry up summer (I am negotiating an Italian summer house swap) or snow again soon. I felt so sad when the snow stopped.
This post was written by Kate Morris who lives in West London with two children, Jude 7 and Belle 4 and her husband, Luke, a photographer. She has published one novel and a second, The Seven Year Itch, will be published in Spring 2009. She is currently just starting work on a third novel. Kate blogs at the Easy Living Blog and is know as "The City Wife".
Photo credit: Amy Palko