News bulletins in the UK deal almost exclusively with the weather at the moment. Snow and ice are once again bringing the country to a virtual standstill. Side roads in towns and country lanes are impassable, many schools are closed, airports out of action and, worse than any of that, Christmas shopping has been put on hold.
Last night's temperature was minus eleven round here. You think you have it bad?
That's nothing. Just read what the Rev Francis Kilvert wrote in his diary for Christmas Day 1870:
As I lay awake praying in the early morning, I thought I heard a sound of distant bells.
It was an intense frost. I sat down in my bath upon a sheet of thick ice which broke in the middle into large pieces whilst sharp points and jagged edges stuck all around the sides of the tub like chevaux de frise, not particularly comforting to the naked thighs and loins, for the keen ice cut like broken glass.
The ice water stung and scorched like fire. I had to collect the floating pieces of ice and pile them on a chair before I could use the sponge and then I had to thaw the sponge in my hands for it was a mass of ice.
The morning is most brilliant. Walked to the Sunday School with Gibbins and the road sparkled with millions of rainbows, the seven colours gleaming in every glittering point of hoar frost. The Church was very cold in spite of two roaring stove fires.
The Reverend Francis Kilvert was Curate of the parish of Clyro, near Hay-on-Wye, the famous book town, over the border from us in Powys, from 1865 to 1872. He began to keep a diary in 1870 in which he described the people he met and the places he visited in fascinating detail.
Many of his journals were destroyed, but some were later published and became famous as Kilvert's Diaries because they gave a rare picture of country life in the late Victorian years.