The winter solstice, the annual moment when the north pole is pointed at its greatest angle away from the sun, occurred at 4.49 this morning, with the result that the length of time the sun spends above the horizon in any place in the northern hemisphere is at its shortest.
Our problem isn't how much time the sun appears above the horizon but whether the clouds get out of the way to allow it to shine on us, but, to celebrate today's event, the clouds did clear and the sun did make an appearance. This didn't happen until getting on for ten o'clock, when a line of cumulus along the southern horizon began to allow a few gaps, through which streamers of sunlight shot upwards, very much resembling the aurora at its best.
No-one seemed to be dancing around any of our ancient monuments, in the way they do around Stonehenge, but there was almost a gale blowing and we had a couple of sharp showers which would have dampened anyone's enthusiasm. Yet this is a moment for celebration, as it means the daylight hours will be lengthening, albeit slowly at first, and the solstice always seems to be one of the milestones of the winter - and we've passed it.