Alex James: My opportunity to walk on water

Rural Notebook
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Chickens on tiptoes, pig complaining, taps jammed, puddles petrified, water butts frozen solid. We're in a deep, deep freeze the likes of which I can't remember. We'd been parked inside a chilly cloud for a while, a waxing, waning mist, but it was much colder in this morning's wide-open crisp cracker: cold gold sunshine and distant horizons in place of the vague, mystic silvery haze of the last few days. There's a fine, lingering dusting of snow here and there on other hilltops round and about, but even before the snow, the frost hadn't left the grass, the roofs, the flower-beds for days.

I walked out on to the middle of the pond and drank my tea there, trying a few skids and spilling a few drops. In five years here the ice has never been thick enough to walk on. I wondered if I should get the kids and let them have a go, or whether it was too dangerous. It was six different kinds of dangerous all right, but they would definitely find it more fun than any of their Christmas presents. The bouncy balls are the only things from Christmas they are still interested in. I still rather like the Hot Wheels toy cars, though.

It was good to stand there, a particularly immaculate morning for staring at everything, plus I'd never seen the house from that angle before. It's not normally available, of course. I flexed my knees. There was a little bit of wobble there, the whole crust shook. I finished my tea and sprung high, figuring it was no more than waist deep where I was standing if the worst happened. A big crack appeared as I landed, both feet together, but the ice held, although now it made an interesting noise every time I took a step. I tiptoed back to terra firma. Maybe it'll be thick enough for the kids tomorrow.

Snow would be blinding

We've never had a proper snowfall. There's always just enough to make a snowman but not enough to close the roads. It's so incredibly still today, I've got a feeling we might get a deluge in the next few days – a prospect even more pleasant than the thought of Christmas was. Bring it on!

I'm in shed heaven

It's busy in the sheds. We're at capacity. Pregnant cows, huffing and blowing one side, the odd escapee realising her mistake and trying to get back in to join her sisters. Sheep all over the place on the other side, cosy in the hay. Robins flutter in and out. Who'd want to be in the Caribbean? This is the best time of year.