Thursday, May 21, 2009

Snow Day!

Monday 2 February 2009

Sha: February was the start of getting into some regular routines. I would go to work, and Foo would look for work and have my pipe and slippers ready for me when I got home. ‘Regular’ was something still to be worked out, as witnessed in early February when I woke up very excited to see at least a foot of snow covering everything. I didn’t think this could be too irregular because the Christmas cards that Grandma sent from England always showed snow.

Come to think of it so did NZ’s before we started talking about becoming a republic and depicting Santa barbecuing and surfing to press home our points of difference. I can hear Murray Hewitt’s voice now “these new cards will sock it to the Poms Brett, you mark my words, the Prime Minister’s gonna love them”. It would be another ten years before Santa would be given beach shorts to surf in, instead of his full Santa suit. (Blog within a blog misdemeanour).

The only thought I had was whether my boots would mind walking to work in the snow, and if they did mind, what was it they would mind, followed by; dumb boots, you’ll do as I say (such was the excitement). So I set off in the dark at 6am and headed down the road and into Hyde Park.

A brief synopsis of my usual 40 turned 90 minute walk to work; I can’t see the path, get lost, get found, run into some swans asleep and frozen beside the pond, apologise out loud for their awful circumstances, immediately slip sideways narrowly missing the pond by inches, state out loud “you did that with your minds ya c~#%$”, (refuse to engage them for the next five days), make it out of the park, get snow balls thrown at me by the only other two people out and about, virtually crawl up Kensington High St on hands and knees, make it into my place of work and wait for my colleagues to turn up, and wait, and wait, and wait.

Unbeknownst to me, this was the worst snowfall to hit central London in 18 years with 98% of public transport suspended and other miscellaneous chaos. It really was fun though, and I walked to work the next three days as well when the snow was turning into a perilous icy soup.

Frozen swans in the dark

Foo: Argh, Snow Day. While Sha was out enjoying herself in the snow, I was without internet sheltering in our house trying to avoid succumbing to hypothermia. Being without TV or internet, I had to resort to listening to the radio (an old fashion device, which is kind of like listening to a podcast interspersed with adverts and music that you aren't really interested in). The station I was tuned to seemed only able to talk about the snow for the whole day and presented startling revelations such as:
  • Shock, horror “schools are being closed - why do THEY (kids and teachers) get a day off when we have to work? It wasn't like this in my day, grumble, grumble.”
  • “The tube is closed - it's not like this in the rest of Europe. When it snows in France, THEIR tube keeps running. Our infrastructure is terrible and has to be upgraded, grumble grumble.”
  • “Drivers really aren't used to the conditions when it snows. They really should drive slower and to the conditions. Drivers just can't handle the snow.”
  • “We're running out of grit to salt the roads with. Why don't we have more grit? Everywhere else in the world has more grit than London. It’s not fair.”
  • “We’re in the middle of the biggest financial crisis we have seen for decades and our city has come to a standstill. The planes can’t fly and we are haemorrhaging money at a rate of knots. We’re doomed” (and pretty soon we will all descend into cannibalism…I suggest starting with the bankers).
So, it seemed to be pretty standard things to moan about. Reminds me a lot of talkback radio back in NZ.

Incidentally, the thing about grit running out was true as councils simply did not have enough to deal with the ice on the roads for more than a couple of days. As per this story, one council even rang a gourmet food company to ask the price per ton to grit roads - Alison Lea-Wilson, co-owner of Halen Mon in Brynsiencyn, North Wales, said: "Normally we only sell in grams. It would have cost more than £12,000. They seemed a bit shocked - and hung up."

Despite all the exciting chatter on the radio, I did manage to get out and about and went for a wander in Hyde Park. I took a swag of photos and present the best below.

The strangest thing about this whole situation was the suddenness that the snow descended. The weekend before it snowed was very cold, but there wasn't really an indication that snow was about to hit so severely. I don’t recall any ‘severe weather warnings’ or internet chatter. Indeed, there was more talk about snow around Christmas time with everyone dreaming of a white Christmas. I guess the powder was taking the scenic route to get here - better late than never although it reminds me of a song about wanting something really badly and when you finally get it, you realise it wasn't want you wanted after all! People are funny like that.

On the Saturday, we had gone to Portabello Markets in Notting Hill with Perraine and Heather (no, we didn't see anyone famous out and about). In the evening we went to Tate Modern to see a Rothko exhibition. While the Rothko exhibition was intriguing, I think both Sha and I got more out of wandering around the exhibitions by other artists. For Sha, the Viennese actionists were fascinating and me, I loved Dali, Francis Bacon and some of the other surrealists. There were also some fantastic videos playing with some disturbing imagery which had me mesmerised. As Tate Modern is so huge, I think a return visit is definitely on the cards. I keep thinking of art lovers back in NZ who would simply LOVE to spend half a day wandering around here (Mum, Eugene & Sonia, Lizzy, Bernie & Maelyn).

Sunday was even colder and Sha and I went to a Farmer's Market near Baker street in Marylebone. We bought pigeon breast and pheasant - both surprisingly cheap. We were assured the pigeon WAS NOT the sort you see hanging around late at night outside dodgy tube stations. Always good to try new things.

Enough ramble...on with the snow!

Don't forget, you can click on a photo for a better view.

Out our window

The Italian Gardens in Hyde Park

Snowman #1

People enjoying Hyde Park

The Serpentine

Snowman #2

Not a soul to be seen (or is there?)

This might mean something to Regan?

Now that's a snowball!

The only working bus in London!


Timb said...

In some weird timelag irony it now looks like this in NZ (esp round Taranaki) Still, pretty to look at!!

Hope you guys are well :)

Alden said...

Time to hollow out a Tauntaun!

Ness and Dave said...

Looks friggen cold!!

Foo said...

It was very cold. The complete opposite to the current amazing weather over here. The mercury has been sitting around 24 - 26 degrees and humidity was up to 88% yesterday evening. Hottest days since we have been here!

I'll get our next post up in the next day or so.

Peter A said...

I hope those swans were okay.

Foo said...

Yeah, the swans survived Peter. They were just resting.