After our brief introduction to the first winter snow, the weather continues to be bone-hard and chill. But it's that time of year, Christmas is coming, and really, it's pretty normal stuff.

So with warm gloves, scarf and jacket, plus a decent set of walking boots, I set out to explore the misty world of a Cotswold morning - and very rewarding it was too.

Scenes that were picture-perfect in clear sunlight, now turned grey and mysterious. Chipping Norton High Street (above) mixed smoke and mist in roughly equal quantities for the rather sulphurous effect you can see above. Below, the Town Hall was just a shadowy presence at the far end.

Colours wash out in the mist - bright reds fade, yellows and greens blend together, with visually simple results that are much like a painting made with a restricted palette.

In fact (and perhaps changing the subject somewhat) one of my pleasures on Mediterranean breaks when my children were young was to take a few tubes of acrylic paint, two brushes - thick and thin - then ask the kids to find some flat pebbles or driftwood as palettes. Oh, and could they put some seawater in a plastic cup, please?!

Results were variable but fun, alleviated the boredom of lolling on a beach, gave the girls something to do, and more often than not, gave me a pair of painting partners!


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