I stray through the student courtyard and bound childlike across the switchboard of meandering garden paths, delighted by the sound, of my weathered boots crunching crisply in the frosted grass beneath me.

Gazing out into the distance, to the undulating hills of an idyllic Christmas scene. A blanket of white spreads its cover across the sweeping valley beyond, an arctic cold creeping ever southward over the expansive Avon plains.

A legion of trees stand starkly naked on iridescent sheets, sloping down to the alluring water’s edge. I pursue the beaten path toward the beguiling scene ahead. All around crystallised remnants of the passing season, scattered like seedlings across the carpet of evergreen fronds. Suddenly, spread out vastly before me the lake frozen over, reeds round its edges petrified in thick frost. The castle stood brave upon the distant mound, standing guard over the spellbound tableau below.

Time stands still, as the cold bites at my toes, feel my fingers turning numb and decide not to linger. I hurry round the lake’s raw perimeter, sneaking glances over my shoulder as I go.

Unexpectedly I catch sight of the resident swans, gliding through the melting backwaters, confined to their own thawed pond. Observing the creatures often, I think perhaps they are their most elegant in winter. Skating feathered guardians, angels drifting beneath the bleak dawn light.

I lose sensation in my hands and tear myself away from the thick trunk from which I’ve been watching. The welcomed heat of my office calls. Time stands still for no one, even on a winter’s day.