What a relief, when one day last week I opened the back door and a heady perfume wafted my way.
Winter box or sweet box is a small evergreen, winter-flowering shrub with the tongue twisting botanical name of Sarcococca, which has highly scented flowers.
Throughout the year, it is really just a rather boring little shrub.
What it lacks in looks, however, it makes up in abundance with its divine winter aroma emanating from its diminutive flowers.
For a week or so each year, its perfume, trapped under the glass awning outside our back door, is taking centre stage.
Our neglected little patch isn't much to look at, especially this time of year, but here and there tiny little crocuses, their bulbs planted long ago and left to their own devices, are appearing out of nowhere, almost overnight.
The winter flowering Clematis armandii is full of fat buds, out of which starry almond scented white flowers will soon burst into life.
A dash of yellow is provided by the last of the winter jasmine, soon to be followed by the first of the winter aconites, with their funny little hula skirts.
Oh, I can't wait for spring to begin in earnest!
Last Sunday, with the sun still making an appearance in the morning, we baked a cake, its delicious aroma competing with the winter box outside the kitchen window.
According to the recipe, it's a "scone cake", and it's very easy to make. I actually love baking but I hardly ever seem to find the time to do so.
The cake features apples, orange zest and blueberries, although you can use blackberries when in season, or indeed any other fruit you fancy.
The pinny I'm wearing is a true vintage one I charity shopped for a pittance a couple of years ago. It is well used, with a couple of faded spots, and its former owner really "made do and mended", which makes me love it even more.
Even though there were no disasters, this is the stage when we are starting to have some doubts.
But lo and behold, after 45-50 minutes in the oven, it comes out perfectly formed.
We'd invited over our friends Ingrid and Maurice for a long overdue visit to Dove Cottage, as life had been getting a bit in the way of socializing these last couple of months.
Now it was time for a catch up over cups of coffee and tea, with a piece of yummy home made cake.
While the boys were talking (whatever about, I wonder, they are meeting for a drink every week), the girls went upstairs for a rummage through my stash of surplus clothes, and Ingrid went home with two jackets, two dresses and a blouse.
Here's a collage Ingrid sent me of her trying-on session at home. She got the butterfly brooch as part of her birthday present from us last year.
Ingrid came bearing a gift too.
Instead of real flowers, she crocheted these and put them into a cute little retro vase.
One thing is for sure: they will never wilt!
All too soon, another weekend had gone by, and so had our short-lived taste of spring.
As from Monday, we are back in the doldrums, accompanied by rain and stormy weather, and spring once again seems a long way off.