By GAVIN ALLEN
Small arms fire: The Royal Dragoon Guards, having received their operational medals on return from Afghanistan, close the ceremony with a snowball fight at York Race Course
Christmas is not the time for tales of closed airports, motorway tailbacks and cancelled trains - it is the time to think warm thoughts when it's cold outside.
Amid all the testimonies of travel mayhem, it's easy to forget that this snowfall is a thing of rare beauty too.
For a moment, shut out memories of your nightmare commute, or the sight of empty supermarket shelves.
Winter sun: The sun sets over snow-covered Hartshead Pike near Saddleworth, Greater Manchester
Abreast of the weather news: A Robin sits on a perch as he looks for food at Twycross Zoo, in Warwickshire
Instead, look at the delight on the faces of The Royal Dragoon Guards, pictured above, who, having received operational medals after returning from Afghanistan, closed their ceremony at York Race Course with a huge snowball fight.
Channel the delight you would have felt at this suitably seasonal weather as a child and try to feel a warming of the cockles instead of a chilling of your heart.
Our wonderful week of snow has elevated the advent of December into the kickstart every Christmas deserves, and given us a conversation point so much better than the regular complaints about how 'commercial Christmas' seems to start earlier every year.
Can't believe what I'm sea-ing: Sue Loveless watches her King Charles Spaniel enjoying running over the frozen sea near to her home at Portland Harbour in Dorset
Hampton Court Palace: The historic royal residence has attracted visitors to see the gardens in the snow
White sand beach: A walker enjoys the unusual surface on Brighton Beach
I told you this colour would be fashionable eventually: Sheep stand in a snowy field in Burton Grange, northern England
Revel in the stunning winter landscape at Hartshead Pike in Manchester and the image of a robin red breast perched in the snow, images so Christmassy they could pass for greetings cards rather than casual photographs.
This weather has transformed the face of Britain.
On Brighton beach the sands - and stones - turned white as if part of the most exclusive seafronts in the world.
In the north of England, rolling green fields enjoyed a full colour change and further south the gardens of Hampton Court Palace in London were only made more picturesque by the snowfall.
Out for a run: A racehorse is exercised on snow-covered gallops in Middleham, northern England
Frozen solid: A statue of Oscar Wilde in Dublin's Merrion Square and a frozen fountain in Cambridgeshire
On the River Trent, modern vessels ended up looking like old-fashioned steamboats as their engine vapours immediately become visible in the frozen air.
On dry ground animals all over the country, whether in the wild or in wildlife sanctuaries, were either bemused by the changing landscape or simply content to enjoy it.
In Dorset, Sue Loveless took her King Charles Spaniel for a walk that simply would not have been possible last month, running the dog across the frozen sea at Portland Harbour.
White water: Temperatures nearing -10C brought steam from the engines of boats on the River Trent at Gunthorpe
Winter walk: A young lady strolls through a blanket of snow covering the gardens of Hampton Court Palace, Surrey, which remains open for fans of white weather conditions
Meanwhile, swans trying to land on the lake at Fairburn Ings, RSPB reserve, in Castleford, Leeds, found a much harder touchdown than is usual.
Yes, the weather brings problems, but it also brings with it special memories for children and those young at heart.
It also brings a message that goes to the heart of Christmas: try to see the beauty instead of the bleakness.
On a wing and a prayer: A swan comes in to land on a frozen lake at Fairburn Ings, RSPB reserve, in Castleford, Leeds
Changing of the guard: The Life Guards ride past Buckingham Palace en route to Horse Guards Parade
Saturday, 4 December 2010
By GAVIN ALLEN