Light in the darkness

Last Friday marked a momentous occasion – I left the office for the day, round about 5.10pm, and there was still some light in the sky. Today when I left bang-on 5pm it was just starting to turn into a beautiful sunset. Not until November will I have to see the sun set while sat at my desk again.

I’d hoped to come out of the tube this evening and find a little bit of daylight left. Instead, I found darkness and a raging blizzard. Honestly, I could see the snow drifting before my eyes. This year winter seems to be persisting for a bloody long time…

So, here’s a few things to cheer you up:

  • Nothing can stop the days getting longer. Officially sunset was at 5.06pm today. By the end of the month it will be 5.39pm (in London). It’ll be past 6pm by March 12th. 
  • British Summer Time begins at the end of March – spring has to be here by then, right? (And, though we lose an hour of sleep, at least there’s an extra hour of daylight.) 
  • Next Tuesday is Pancake Day Shrove Tuesday. What’s not to like about that? 
  • I have it on good authority that crocuses (crocii??) are beginning to appear in St James’ Park – that’s a sure sign of spring.
I feel like I’m grasping at straws, but have hope people. This winter cannot last forever. 

Snow – and the fools it makes of us

Is it because we see snow so rarely that it, without fail, brings out the child in us? Snowball fights, snow sculpting, running around as if aged 6 and carefree…? Well, I say ‘us’, I perhaps mean just me – possibly.

Saturday morning dawned bright, with a hint of further snow and in daylight it emerged that the house we’d occupied the night before had rather extensive grounds, and a rope swing…

I like swings, but I think I like them because you sit down on them – thus requiring little effort or balancing skills. Rope swings are a very different matter, so much so that I can’t recall ever having been on one before. However, in the snow I regressed in age by a couple of decades and believed that all things were possible – which is why I attempted it, over and over again. Witness: [Courtesy of three friends & Facebook – thanks guys.]

See – I made it in the end (securing another 2010 first in the process, though, thinking about it I’ve not explained my “2010 firsts” thing yet – you’ll just have to wait…). The problem was basically that it was a tad too high, and my hip joints are not that supple. I am also not too keen on being pushed into a tree at speed and am generally a bit of a wuss who gets paralysed by giggling in awkward situations.

But there was even more foolishness. For some reason, whilst walking across a snowy field (singing Leona Lewis’ Footprints in the Sand, swapping ‘sand’ for ‘snow’ – I’m a genius), I was inspired to recreate a moment from High School Musical 2 in which Troy Bolton dances his way across a golf course. At one point he picks up handfuls of sand, then throws them wildly (and camply) into the air – I copied it, but with snow. To fully appreciate the photos below, you may need to watch this clip (1:35 precisely).

This is not normal Liz behaviour – I have no idea what came over me! All I can do is blame the snow…

Obsession

If there’s one thing that you can pretty much define as a British obsession it’s the weather. It’s a stereotype, but it’s also oh so very true… Lock a group of us in the lift and you can guarantee a weather comment will be a conversation opener.

We all know when something ‘big’ is heading our way and talk about it constantly in anticipation, during the event and for weeks (if not years) afterwards – whether it be flooding, heatwaves or snow.

Snow is a big favourite. Nothing like snow for utter CHAOS to be generated. (And that word is always in capitals.) Chaos, gridlock, standstill, big freeze…plus, lots of photos of cute children enjoying snow days. We adore it. No wonder ‘uksnow’ has been one of Twitter’s top ranking #tags over the last 48 hours. Only in Britain would people fall over themselves to document the movement of precipitation over the country…

I love a good bit of snow. February 2nd 2009 still ranks as one of my all-time favourite days – ever. But this particular ‘big freeze’ has been going on for ages, the first snow fell December 16th and I think it’s snowed somewhere in the UK every day since. I don’t like walking on ice (I’m paranoid about falling and breaking something, one of my good friends already has) and I’m not overly keen on having to remember layer after layer of clothing. Plus, this weekend is Girls Weekend #3 – eagerly anticipated since we booked it in August – and I don’t want people to miss out. Oh, and I have no camera to document it….and I need to get in to work tomorrow because my new bank cards are being delivered…rah.

But, this is all just a tad selfish. I’ve been chilly in my flat, resorting to the heating, hot water bottles, sleeping in a hoodie, wearing my ‘very cold weather’ coat and eating lots of winter comfort food. At least I have a flat, money for heating and a variety of clothes to wear according to temperature. A lot of people aren’t so lucky. I sat on a bus for 45mins instead of the usual 10, but at least I made it home safely.

As a nation, we are obsessed, but I can’t help feeling it’s a selfish obsession. We want to know what the weather’s going to be like for own benefit – if it’s going to be hot for that party, or wet for that cricket match or snow so we can have a day of work… Maybe we should spend a little more time thinking about its wider repercussions?

How my gift of time was spent

Yesterday I had my first ever snow day, which in every way was a total blessing.
I’d had a manic weekend with no time for lounging around or general household activities and have a conference coming up this weekend, which had made me rather sad at the prospect of no lie-ins for a long while.
My snow day was utterly wonderful. Of the list I wrote yesterday, I did everything:
  • Snow photography (plus lots more today in Regent’s Park)
  • Snow fights & snowman contest
  • Baking (slightly improvised brownies as I was missing some ingredients)
  • Completed the easy level on Guitar Hero
  • Thought about work a tiny bit.
But there was so much more…
  • Wholesome activities like going for a snowmen walk (looking at neighbours’ creations) and singing songs round the piano. I love that I have friends who live literally round the corner! (Though it’s a shame one didn’t get home till after the snowfight & snowman building.)
  • Getting to know my flatmate better via an impromptu (but polite – we apologised when our aim was too good) snowfight.
  • Being ambushed with snowballs at my front door by the friend coming round to play.
  • Made a couple of hilarious snow activity videos.
  • Meeting people who live nearby that would never normally talk to each other and everyone being cheerful.
There are (of course) many photos. Unfortunately, Bermondsey’s not that exciting – even when covered in snow. My sister helpfully suggested that I walk up to the river and take photos of iconic landmarks in the snow. She didn’t seem to realise that there was 30cm of snow outside my door and this normally 30min journey would be a veritable expedition!
Anyway, here are a few favourites:

My sculpture (I’m a class above snowmen!) – ideas for what it resembles?

David & his creation. Yes, it has a chilli for an nose.

Beautiful Bermondsey in the snow this morning.

The gift of time

Apparantly, this photo means that I’m a loser. I was rather excited by the snow on my way home last night and left messages in its drifts for my neighbours. Within an hour they’d been covered over with even more snow. [Incidentally, I learnt yesterday that you shouldn’t wear converse on a day when snow’s forecast – walking home was an interesting experience!]

As I type, I’m listening to the sound of children snow fighting outside my living room window. Cute.

But I have been given the gift of time…
There are no buses across London.
My tube line is part-suspended.
My tube station is a 20 minute walk away on a normal day. I don’t even want to think how long it would take today.

So am I going anywhere? No.

Instead, I’m going to do some (or all) of the following:
  • Wrap up warm and engage in some snow photography.
  • Challenge my neighbour to a snow fight and/or snowman building contest.
  • Bake. Probably brownies but possibly more, depending on whether I can get to the shop for milk & eggs.
  • Persuade my neighbour that today would be a really good opportunity for me to hone my Guitar Hero skills.
  • Think about work, a little bit. (I have nothing at home to do! But there are things that I can think about…)
Have I ever told you how much I love snow?