On Friday I visited the wonderful Chestnut Tree House Children's Hospice near Arundel where the staff laid on some artificial snow as a surprise for the children.

It was great fun, although most of the adults felt that we had seen enough of the real stuff lately!

After being unable to get down for my surgeries one Friday because of the snow, I'm well aware of the difficulties that these conditions have caused for commuters.

I rather share the view of many of my constituents that the trains have been excessively disrupted, and I've written to Southern Railways about this.

The conditions bring back fond memories of my childhood in the 1960s, when we did seem to have more snow.  But of course we've now had three consecutive harsh winters.

I sympathise with the view that Britain should be coping better. 

These conditions would not raise much of an eyebrow in Moscow, where I've landed in the ice before.

But this is still unusual weather for the UK.

This will probably be the coldest December since 1910 and the snowfall has been the most widespread since 1981.

So the question is whether we should spend hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of pounds more on winter resilience.

But it's something we will need to consider if the advice from the Chief Scientific Advisor is that harsh winters are likely to be more frequent. 

I'm told that we are better prepared than last year.  Here in West Sussex, the County Council stockpiled 18,000 tonnes of salt - twice as much as last year when supplies ran out.

The Highways Agency has ordered another 250,000 tonnes, taking the national stockpile up to 500,000 tonnes.

And the Government has relaxed the EU's working time hours for lorry drivers to help with the distribution of essential supplies.

So hopefully there'll be enough mince pies to go around!

I wish all my constituents a very happy and warm Christmas.

Christopher N Howarth