Jo’s hands and feet were still tingling from the glacier-like bitter arctic conditions she had encountered on the nightmare journey here. Gradually a feeling of glowing warmth and cosiness overcame her as she stood in front of the enormous open inglenook fireplace with the loudly crackling logs spitting flaming shards into the room, reminiscent of a bonfire on Guy Fawkes Night. As she inhaled from the full-bodied glass in her hand, she sensed the hospitable flush of the oh so inviting contents. She sipped it and the warmth pervaded her like molten metal, making her whole being glow. She was beginning to feel more normal.

The same weekend last year had been so different: a glorious celebration of Spring. The warm sunlight had glistened on the lake. The dangling yellow lamb’s tails of the catkins and the bee-like pussy willow blossoms had burst forth, presenting a vibrant introduction into new life. The purple, blue and gold of the face-like pansies and tulip-shaped crocuses had been a perfect foil for the splendid, egg coloured yellow daffodils that had fluttered and danced in the gentle breeze, just as in Wordworth’s poem. This year they had been battered and blown down by the blinding blizzard that had afflicted the whole area. Now Jo could see only a blanket of white covering everything. The boughs of the tree drooped low, weighed down by the thick gravity-defying covering that engulfed the whole gigantic panoramic vista from the lounge. The sky was grey, the lake was grey. The whole scene was a monochrome concoction of drab depressing melancholy.

But as Dan came into the lounge of the very expensive country hotel, everything changed. Jo had a feeling of joy that was even more consuming than the effect of the brandy she had so effortlessly consumed. How glad she was that they had arranged to come here again this year to celebrate their wedding anniversary in the hotel where their idyilic wedding reception had taken place just a year ago.