After the snow on Southampton Common

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After a few days of anticipation followed by freezing excitement the snow that arrived in Southampton last Thursday is all but gone, with just the occasional blob of the slushiest of stuff to remind us of the events of the past few days. The Common was, of course, beautiful, with snow covering the main field and my favourite tree gently daubed with the white stuff. There was also plenty of action: snowmen, an igloo, endless snowballs, and an impromptu sledging resort at the edge of the Boating Lake. The slopes were adorned with a range of sledges, from plastic bags through to state of the art creations, and children of all ages had a great time hurling themselves trustingly downwards.

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A fall in temperature brings out the warmth in people: as my friend and I stood at the bottom of the slope watching our children we cheered on and congratulated grown men for their success in travelling down the slope on pieces of flimsy plastic. We gathered in small groups around complete strangers to admire a particularly splendid sledge or on an especially innovative approach to downhill transport. When we encountered several students carrying trays of snowballs across the Common in readiness to pelt their peers we laughed and wished them luck, instead of tutting at the disturbance they might cause. Snow brought out our good humoured and sociable sides, and Southampton Common became one big community of people young and old having fun on an unscheduled day off work.

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But just as we had all begun to get into the swing of having snow, it bade us farewell. By this morning there was only a half measure of ice on the Ornamental Pond, and the swans were restating their domination of the water, reminding any ducks, moorhens or dogs who seemed to have developed ideas above their station about who ruled the Ornamental Pond. As I cycled away, on the clear paths and roads, I reflected that life is a lot easier without the snow, but it was a whole lot of fun while it lasted.

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