Each winter I fall a little bit out of love with the House with the Blue Door, apart from the odd quick visit over December. January and February it loses its appeal in the cold weather and the eternal sogginess, when the decking becomes lethally slippery and the lawn sits under an inch of water.
The white and blue paint of the chalet’s wooden cladding that looks so inviting under blue sunny skies takes on a green and faded sheen in the winter and the front door swells from the rain that never seems to stop falling.
But then towards the end of February the end of the closed season approaches, and the scent of spring arrives. It’s something intangible a sniff of warmth on the breeze, the birds becoming more melodious and bulbs bursting out of their soil-bound cases.
I feel like Mole in the Wind in the Willows, when he throws his paint brushes to the floor exclaiming ‘hang spring cleaning’ and follows his nose to the fresh spring air out of his burrow, when we fling open the chalet windows after its winter hibernation. There’s an optimism in the air as I feel that maybe everything will dry out after all and the lawn will stop turning itself into a wetland.
It was a chilly 7oc inside our chalet yesterday, but a positively balmy 14oc outside on the decking. We have a strange micoclimate round our chalet where it traps heat in the garden, but for some reason holds the cold in the chalet. It being warmer outside than in we made a cup of tea, took out a jigsaw for the small boy to play with and decamped to sit on the deck. The winter has left the wooden table looking in need of a sand-down and re-oil as its varnish is peeling, but looking towards the still-bare trees, while listening to the dog-walkers and sipping my tea I can feel myself falling back in love with the place again and dreaming of the warmer months bringing the garden back to life and hearing the sea while I sit in my deckchair reading.