Winter in the Willows is partly a “What if” story, partly a “What happened next?” story and partly a tale of times that never happened. It is possible that the characters in The Wind in the Willows and Toad of Toad Hall once existed in our retelling of the story, but if they did, they are long-dead, heroes of myth that mothers use to frighten their cubs: “Go to bed, or Mr. Badger will get you!”
This is our story. Almost 200 years ago the Knifewinter happened - an apocalypse in the early days of the 20th Century that wiped out the last vestiges of human civilization. The Weasels seized London-That-Was, carving out sections of the ruins for themselves. The Stoats stayed in the Wild Wood, carving a place for themselves in the dark beneath the canopy. Everyone else established themselves in the Land in-between, holding onto what Civilisation they could while the world went Feral around them. That was then. This is now. The days are cold and there is little to eat: survival is hard.
Everyone relies on the Country Fayres - meetings that happen all across The Land, in Territories part-way between London-That-Was and the Wild Wood. Here people meet to share ideas, trade valuable necessities and discuss the gossip of the season just gone. Everyone must prepare for Winter, ensuring there is enough food for their Rabbit slaves, enough coal to run their factories, and enough furs and meat for themselves.