Sue Woodcock: Abba sounds a brighter note as weather cheers up

After an animated meeting of the Deanery Synod at Holy Trinity in Skipton we went into an evocative candlelight service of Compline in the chancel. The last time I had been at Compline was when I was a teenager. Utterly calmed and delighted by this tranquil end to the day, I felt totally at peace as I let the dogs out when I got home.

We've had a couple of glorious days – yes, there has been a hard frost at night but the mornings have been superb with a heavy hoar frost. Driving into Skipton the sky was blue, the sun was shining and it was actually quite warm. The trees on one side and hanging over the road were covered in the most delicate white mantle like a huge veil of Chantilly lace. Particles of melting ice cascaded down like a small snow storm, melting as they hit the windscreen. The sheer beauty of it was such a joy.

On another such day I was working inside when the dogs sounded off and there was a knock at the door. An elderly gentleman who lives locally had come to ask me to consider giving a talk to a group. He wasn't too keen on being mobbed by the dogs, so we sat in the sunshine at the front of the house and watched the world as the sun began to set. The sky was criss-crossed with the vapour trails of the planes flying in a sky that was orange, pink, magenta and with delicate whisps of white on a turquoise background. As a true countryman, he was able to tell me all about the local hills and we sat in pleasant companionship putting the world to rights.

I was not so happy the next day when the phone rang and I was subjected to a mechanised call telling me not to hang up because the caller could help me to solve my debt problems. There was no identification of the company involved. I hung up and then thought about it. What an impertinent intrusion on my privacy and waste of my time. Some folk would be horrified at the suggestion that they were in debt or worry their bank account had been compromised. It was unsettling and later I heard from an elderly friend about a pedlar who had called at her door. His wares were overpriced but she felt sorry for him and spent 20, which is more than she can afford. I know a bit about the law regarding pedlars and how these things work. I myself have a proper pedlar's certificate. These gangs don't.

The lads who are doing this are being used by their gang leaders and are as much the victims as the people they try to obtain money from. What they sell is of low quality and there is no comeback if their goods are not fit for purpose. I resent the assumption that we are all mugs to be tricked or intimidated into getting something we didn't want or ask for.

McWuff's training is progressing slowly, but at last I have found the command that gets him to come back to me. Not every time, but some times. If he is excited he chooses to ignore it. I just about have enough teeth left to produce a good whistle and this is obviously what he has been trained to.

He is such a loving dog I cannot be cross with him for long even if he has demolished something I foolishly left around. His favourite challenge is balls of wool. I spend ages unravelling wool. Boo is becoming a typical labrador, totally motivated by food and will take anything I offer her.

I was given a lot of out-of -date Cheddar cheese and the dogs thought they were in heaven. Most animals I have found like cheese, certainly the goats do.

We have started rehearsals again for Buckden Singers. The music included a selection from Mamma Mia and I disgraced myself by collapsing into convulsions of laughter at our ineffectual attempts to master a complex line of one song. This set all the tenors off and then spread to the surrounding parts. We had to take a break. I was laughing all the way home. I have also agreed to take part in a murder mystery evening to raise funds for Hubberholme Church. I must learn my lines and try go get myself into a Miss Marple type character. I have until March 12 to get it right.

CW 29/1/11