Thursday, January 7, 2010

'Arctic' living

Well, we've been having great fun the last few days. Comments like, "You must feel right at home," abound as a cold snap, and a nice bit of snow, hit Britain. Southern England has probably seen close to 30 cm of snow over the last two days -- the most they've seen in some 30 years! -- with temperatures hovering around minus 10 degrees Celsius today.

Our backyard Wed. morn
Headlines of "Frozen Britain" and "Arctic conditions" are rarely out of the news. Tea and I must've been in bed for an extra forty minutes this morning, shaking our heads and laughing as BBC Radio Gloucester talked about it almost non-stop. Seriously! "Is it safe for my eighteen-month-old cat to go outside?" and "How do the ducks keep warm?" squeezed out all but a thirty-second piece on the lacklustre coup attempt in the Labour Party. People were phoning in with the temperatures in their areas like they were entering the most lucrative of contests.

We've had a couple of beautiful walks to work; particularly yesterday, when the snow was still fluffy, with that pleasant scrunch; and it was so quiet, with most folks staying home. It's actually getting a bit treacherous now, as sidewalk snow that wasn't cleared has now been compressed to an icy sheen. And I guess that's the main message in all this: they just can't cope. 'Grit' (i.e., rock salt) is running low, side streets haven't been touched, villages are snowed in -- not in a Canadian sense, but a hill of any size, covered in icy snow is too much for most vehicles, especially considering the tires here -- and folks are trying to stay warm in rubber boots. Grocery stores are packed; it'd be like them forecasting another ice-storm at home, I'd imagine.

And there's more snow on the way this weekend, apparently. Still, even if it gets down to the minus 20 °C they're talking about, I find it much nicer than winter in Ottawa: they simply don't get that biting wind here -- well, in the city proper, anyway; my boss lives up on the surrounding hills and paints a slightly different picture. I also like the child-like novelty of it all: a bunch of the younger crowd organized an impromptu snowball fight over lunch yesterday, and everyone's eager to share pictures of the snowmen (and snow-dogs, in one case) they've made. Look for that to wear off as this continues, though; proper mitts, snow shovels and scrappers are all in short supply over here, and cat flaps and mail slots don't do well for keeping houses warm.

1 comment:

  1. I think that lovely new hat and thick scarf jixed you! Clearly! tee hee