What a difference a week makes. A week ago we were in the grips of our longest and most severe cold spell for a generation. We had no water which meant we had no heating - water pressure is needed to run the boiler - we had frequent long breaks in our internet connection, and our roads were so badly iced we weren't able to get out for a fortnight.
And just look at it today ....
This was the view across or local lake, Lough Graney. Not a sign of snow, beautiful clear sky and warm sunshine ... and the lake so still it was like a mirror. The unwary might have been fooled into thinking spring was just around the corner, but it's still only January and I'm sure this winter has got a few more surprises in store for us before it's spent.
But the return to good weather did allow me to do some of the early winter jobs that just weren't possible at the end of last year - either because of the incessant rain, or the freezing conditions.
One of those jobs was lifting the gladiolus corms. It's one of those tasks that reminds me so much of growing up and learning some of the rudiments of gardening from my father. He was a great gladiolus grower and used to exhibit them at local shows.
I always thought lifting the corms was a magical time - there was the excitement of seeing how big the corms were, but also collecting up all the cormlets that grow round the base of the new corm. Some varieties seem to produce lots of them and many fall off when the corms are being lifted. My job was to sift through the soil and pick out as many of the cormlets as I could spot. Dad used to grow them on like seeds and in a couple of years they would produce flowering size corms.
So, I was able to re-live that pleasure yesterday when I lifted the corms I grew last year for cut flowers. They're now being dried out a bit so they can be cleaned and the old corm removed, but they're mostly a good size so we should get some good long spikes this year.
And look at all those cormlets. I'll be planting them out just as Dad did - and congratulating myself in a couple of year's time for all the money I've saved by raising my own corms. We gardeners get pleasure from the simplest of things!