The shops all feel a little topsy-turvy at the moment and practically everything in sight is discounted in the January sales. The window displays are screaming out over 50% off, trying to draw more money out of our meager wallets after Christmas indulgences.

I step into Oliver Bonas; I enjoy peering into their jewellery cabinets and flicking through a wonderful selection of glossy lifestyle books with generous discounts. I love this shop and it always feels as if it is strictly girlie territory! Then there’s River Island packed with rows upon rows of summer tops and spinners covered in bold and brash jewellery that you’d probably never wear; then again at 70% off it’s worth a thought.

I find the perfect dress in Oasis reduced by 30%. At last, a shop that has genuinely discounted seasonal merchandise, and hasn’t transported a huge quantity of sales stock from some warehouse. With that find in the bag I leave the shops and step out into the cold January morning.

I decide to walk home and cut through Clarence Park. The cold wind blows and sleet gently flurries around me. As I approach the gates there are fewer passersby and as I walk deeper into the park I can hardly hear the traffic, and silence descends.

In the distance, the bare trees stand tall behind winter’s chrome filter.

As I draw closer, I realize that I’m also surrounded by a wealth of evergreen.

Pine and Cedar trees, dark winter roses and scarlet holly berries are a striking contrast against the icy backdrop. Nature has begun her quiet sojourn into spring.

Birdsong resonates through the wind and I wonder how these tiny sparrows and robins feel, swooping and fluttering in the blue air. I see a squirrel, still frantic, and wonder why it isn’t hibernating somewhere by now.

2018 lies outstretched before us, uncharted, undiscovered and as empty and spacious as this quiet winter’s morning.  As I walk through these dark weeks of winter I think back to the year gone by and all that came with it, having to let some things go and feeling a profound gratitude for others.