Still no idea where the owners of the 8 frozen cars at Birchen Clough were.

The leap of joy that the Cabin wasn’t occupied.

That traverse path to the Cabin across Alport Moor which gifts sight of the Cabin in the distance for the first 200 metres, then the folds of the Clough hide the Cabin until the last 200 metres. More than once i’ve thought it gone.

I finished my second reading of English Pastoral. Started my third. I lit the candles. Waited for the sun to rise. At 9 i realised that even in layers of down and synthetics it was warmer sat on the grass outside than in the abbatoir cold stone Cabin.

During the course of the day i watched the sun travel its arc across the sky.

At 10.57am i could take my hat and two hoods off. Warm of sorts. But only for ten minutes. The window melted clear just before 12.

Peated water was collected from down where the beck in shadow held reeds frozen thicker than truncheons.

A brew was had on the hour every hour. ‘He looks like Spencer Tracy now’ was listened, sang, and danced to on the hour every hour. ‘A wife called Beverley sells second hand Ford motors’. A hand was placed above my eyes on the hour every hour and i squinted down the Clough to see if anyone was coming. They didn’t.

Fennel salami was bitten apple like. At 12.20pm it was still minus 6 at the door. Christmas Lunch was mackerel pate and olive bread and toffee poppets and beer. I had to wear the lunch inside my down jacket for the preceding hour as the mackerel and bread had frozen. The beer was so cold that my my teeth complained.

At 12.31 a weather front appeared to the West that gave me cause for concern. I hadn’t noticed the detail on the Cabin handle before. The wind stiffened. At 1.08pm the snows came. Were i on foot i would stay the day out, but the laden grey belly of cloud suggests a lot of snow, and i have a car to get down the Pass. What to do. Wait ?

Forty pages of English Pastoral left. Down clothes off and gore-tex clothes on. Drain the cup. Pack up hastily and leave. A raptor sought its Christmas tea way below me. Rounding the flank of Dinas Sitch Tor everything was grey and white.

Homeward …

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