Daffodils in December, June in January

Samuel PepysThe last few months have raced by, leaving my blog far behind. So what’s been hot and what’s been not in Piccotts End this autumn and winter? The weather for a start. I’ve never seen daffodils in December so perhaps their appearance in borders and grassy banks is one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ occurrences. But they said that about the floods in the North so perhaps we should get used to seeing daffodils in winter. They’ve even beaten my snowdrops. But if you go back 500 years you’ll find warm winters also troubled the population. Writing in his diary of January 1662 Samuel Pepys noted that it was more like May or June. The Government were so worried about it that they called for a day of fasting and prayer in the hope of a return of cold weather. This was to stop the spread of diseases. Little did anyone know that the Great Plague was only a few years away. Pepys was a fascinating, likeable character whose dalliances with the women of the day would have landed him in jail in today’s less permissive society. One woman had the right idea when his advances became too much during a church service. She threatened him with her hat-pin!

Reading Pepys also reminded me of a tricky date in the calendar – Twelfth Night. According to my calculations, if the first day of Christmas is December 25th, Twelfth Night is January 6th. I then found out that the Church of England regards the first day of Christmas to be Christmas Eve, so Twelfth Night is indeed January 5th. Very confusing. But not in Pepys’ day. The evening of January 6th, Epiphany in biblical terms, was when he and hid friends celebrated. As did PERA residents with a jolly gathering at the Marchmont Arms.