Today it snowed.
It came as no great surprise to anyone, with the weather front having been long predicted. So long in fact it even had time to earn a racy nickname from the tabloids – “The beast from the east”.
As it arrived, the country went into predictable chaos with Southern Railway starting to cancel trains even before the first snowflake fell. As a precaution, don’t you know?
(I dare say residents of other Northern European nations shake their heads in bemusement when learning about this, as they dig their cars out of snowdrifts or ski 10 miles to work)
For many people, the first big snowfall of the year is something to grumble about – scraping car windows, slower journeys to work, slipping and sliding on the pavements, having to pick the kids up early from school…the list of practical problems goes on.
But for me, the feeling was very different.
Aside from one ski holiday in Thredbo in Australia in the mid 90’s, I hadn’t seen any snow falling for 20 years. Not a single flake.
You see, it is never cold enough to snow in Sydney and on my only two non-summer trips back to the UK, it didn’t happen to snow then either.
That’s 20 years since I last looked out of the window and saw large flakes drifting down from the sky, or saw snow start to settle on nearby walls and windowsills, or walked outside and felt the refreshing tang of snow on my face.
Today, the snow began to fall gently around breakfast time and by the time I emerged from a morning meeting and into the streets of London, it was as if I had walked onto a movie set.
While I had been indoors, the streetscape had been transformed into an almost Dickensian scene with very few cars on the road and locals rugged up in hats and scarfs, scrunching their way across snow-covered streets, perhaps on the way to the welcoming warmth of a local hostelry.
And on my journey back to the office, I saw various London landmarks out of the taxi window, made to look even more picturesque than normal with the addition of their soft new winter coats.
But my experience, enchanting though it was, must have paled into insignificance, compared to that of my young boys.
Both being born in Australia, they had reached the grand old ages of 7 and 5 without ever having seen snow.
So, imagine their excitement as the sky began shedding its wintry load and their world began to change into a magical winter wonderland. Better still when the Headmaster at their school decided to close the school at lunchtime.
Judging by the pictures my wife sent through to me in the warmth of my office throughout the afternoon, the rest of their day appeared to be spent completing some kind of foundation course in snowmanship.
Making and throwing snowballs? Check. Building a snowman? Check. Falling over lots of times in the snow? Check. Going tobogganing? Check. Drawing shapes in the snow? Check. Getting overexcited? Check.
By the time I got home (late, obviously due to train delays), they had finally returned indoors, but their eyes were shining with the day’s experience and they even went to bed early so they can rise at crack of dawn to return to the alpine slopes of Lewes for another day of winter sports.
And you know what? I reckon they’ll have another big kid with them, impatiently waiting for his turn on the toboggan too.