The lingering cloud that your breath creates with every exhale, the increasingly cold bite of the wind and the fact that the sun is taking longer and longer to get out of bed each morning, are just some of the signs. “Winter is coming”, and here at Château de Fontaine, we’re doing all we can to put the ‘Christmas, family and happy faces/muzzles’ back into the saying, rather than the ‘dragons, White Walkers and Covid spikes’ that it’s come to represent. So, when the time is right, we let the traditions take over and add ‘Christmas’ before every word and listen to all the classics. We know when the time is right based on two things: fur and swans. 



Without having done the proper science (partly because the only way to convince the participants to help in the study is to promise them food, and they get enough of that already), counting the amount of fur scattered about the house is a sure way to figure out what season it is. Fur in your food, socks and fish tank? It’s probably Summer. Oh the underside of your socks looks like a Hobbit’s foot and not Big Foot’s? We must be approaching Winter.



But if that isn’t enough, you can be sure that we are indeed approaching Winter, when the regal pair of swans return to the garden ponds, where they kick back and relax for the rest of the year. We’re not exactly sure where they've come from or where they’re headed, but we happily welcome the sight of them in the ponds; they bring with them a bit of hope and a good omen for this year’s Christmas.



Some mornings, the cool night air gets trapped in the fields by the surrounding trees, unable to escape and dissipate before the Sun’s unrelenting stare breaks the horizon. As a result, a thick, enveloping veil of fog is cast over the fields, perfectly setting the tone for some great Christmas stories before the day begins, accompanied by a hot chocolate or coffee to keep the cold winter morning at bay, of course. 



And at the end of the day when it’s grown dark outside, the warmly-glowing Christmas trees that line the grounds guide the way back home. In the stables, the Christmas trees’ lights keep the shenanigans going late into the night, and their merry aroma mixes with the smell of horse, leather and hay, to create a happy and welcoming aura. Watching from a distance, it wouldn’t be a surprise to suddenly see everyone burst into dance, gripped by the invisible spirits of Christmas.