One effect is to sap the efficiency of car batteries, if the car is parked out of doors in the night frost and is denied any long daytime runs. Quick outings to local shops are not enough. After a short while it becomes urgent to charge up the car battery with a good run somewhere.
This was Fiona's predicament. I hadn't taken her for a long drive since before Christmas. The furthest I'd been was Eastbourne on Boxing Day. So two days ago I decided to go as far as the south-west corner of Surrey, to a favourite beauty spot - Little Frensham Pond. It's top centre, off the A287, in this map just below:
And here's a better map:
As you can see, there are two Ponds - lakes really - Great and Little. The nicer one is the Little Pond. You can park somewhere near its north edge, and walk all the way around. When I was last here - almost exactly two years before in January 2015 - I did the full circuit, taking in part of Frensham Common as well. This year's visit wasn't so comprehensive, partly because of all the people there - the sense of solitude I had last time was absent - and partly because I arrived too late in the afternoon to stay long, the sun already setting.
In January 2015, the air was crisp but not especially cold, and peace ruled. It was a Saturday morning, and the fishermen there almost outnumbered the other visitors:
I was wrapped up well, but I remember unzipping my jacket halfway round because the sun was making me too warm:
Not so this time, two years on. It was bitterly cold. The setting sun offered no warmth at all. And there was ice all over the surface of the Pond, except where people had tried to break it up at the shoreline. It made the lake look unnaturally serene. This time it was a Sunday afternoon, and half of Surrey was there. Somewhere over the far side children were running amok, shrieking their heads off. It wasn't the occasion for a solitary, contemplative stroll with just the breeze for company. So I walked only a short way down the east side of the Pond, concentrating on getting some nice pictures. And I think I succeeded.
A picture of me first, trying to ignore the hoards of intrusive Surrey folk, then some of the lake from various points:
I didn't hold the piece of ice for long. It was much too cold for my fingers. I returned to Fiona, whose interior was thankfully still warm, and drove away before the Surrey people decided to leave en masse. Or before any wetness on the roads turned to sheet ice. I was sure my Michelin CrossClimate tyres would cope, but there was no sense in running risks. It would soon be dark anyway.
It was a round trip of about eighty miles. I'm sure it did Fiona's battery a power of good.