Tag Archives: weather

Ice

I’ve forgotten how to drive on ice.

I am not sure whether to put it down to global warming or post-recession efficiency with the gritting, but I am struggling to remember the last time I had to drive on ice. I really think it must have been the mid-90s.

So there I was, descending gratefully out of fog and blethering away with the phone on hands-free, when I lost traction on the front wheels. Not for long. In fact, by the time I’d squeaked “fuck!” into the phone I’d regained the steering and thought “Blow-out? No. Ice”. I then said “I’m ok but I’ll call you back” and started concentrating on the infuriating mixture of water and rime that I was driving over.

I am an irritatingly safe driver; the sort that always obeys urban speed limits and that will sit for as long as it takes – for three minutes, five minutes, seven minutes – waiting for a safe gap in traffic. The sort that will go round a roundabout twice rather than cut across two lanes and who will plan a route to avoid a bad junction.

I do however swear like a Big Brother contestant at anyone I think is endangering me and I run red lights on the basis that – where I live at least – every other bugger out there is running the reds which makes it more dangerous to go through on green. Actually, I prefer to run red lights than get rear-ended by the two vehicles behind me who follow me through. (Have I mentioned how much I hate tailgaters?)

It was dark as well as icy this evening, so I drove at 20 miles or so per hour in the middle of the empty country lane in case I found some black ice, skidded off to one side, ran out of tarmac and landed in a ditch, when I saw the rise and dip of another set of headlights a third of a mile or so away. So I pulled over by a farm and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Then a vehicle arrived behind me and also waited.

The headlights weren’t coming any closer and I’d got my new best friend behind me so I decided to set off again but this time with a nice friendly tailgater cosying up behind me. In fairness, he wasn’t outrageously close, but I still have no idea why he hadn’t gone past me when he reached me in the first place.

We went over the brow of the hill and saw a car facing us with one wheel on the road, two wheels on the verge and the fourth in the ditch and another car behind it also facing us but more or less in the right part of the road. Since I was not following anyone, they must have both been coming towards me when one lost it and tipped off the road.

Normally I’d stop and offer to phone the police or the AA or whoever, but my tolerance for people who drive aggressively on rural back-roads is fairly low at the best of times, and my sympathy for people who try to overtake on rural back roads at night when the temperature is hovering either side of freezing dips well below freezing itself.

So I didn’t stop; I didn’t offer to phone the police or the AA or anyone else; I just drove on by and 6 minutes later I was home.

What is really odd is that I don’t actually feel like a bitch.

November again

I just realised today why this winter feels like such an endurance test. We’ve had one frost, but no sustained cold weather, no bright clear white mornings when your breath dances on the air in front of you, precious little sunshine, none of the crisp clear sharp invigorating weather you can walk out in and feel revitalised, and only two of the magical mornings when the mist is shallow and the sun is bright, so you walk out into a white world under a blue sky.

Instead we are, in the words of Bill Bryson, ‘living in tupperware’ while – to add injury to insult – being battered relentlessly by diagonal rain or just by horizontal air, day after night after day after night.

I don’t feel I’m having a winter at all – it isn’t cold enough. I feel like I am enduring four or five months of November.

In the words of Thomas Hood

No sun–no moon!
No morn–no noon!
No dawn–no dusk–no proper time of day–
No sky–no earthly view–
No distance looking blue–

No road–no street–
No “t’other side the way”–
No end to any Row–
No indications where the Crescents go–

No top to any steeple–
No recognitions of familiar people–
No courtesies for showing ’em–
No knowing ’em!

No mail–no post–
No news from any foreign coast–
No park–no ring–no afternoon gentility–
No company–no nobility–

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member–
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,
November!

(PS, I know I said I wouldn’t post today, but I thought I’d share this wee epiphanette with you since the wind woke me early and so I have time this morning.)

We must wether the weather

Why do you think it is that some people luxuriate in the sun, and others hide from it?

Most people dislike rain, but I like everything from mizzle to fine rain. I don’t like cold, wet rain, straight from the heart of an ice-cloud, but soft rain is lovely. Gentle rain, blessing my skin, garlanding my hair.

Trains, too, it seems have a preference for one kind of snow over another.

Fog, I am not fond of but I am entranced by mist. I used to live just south of Swindon, and the low lying fields (presumably once water-meadows) between Swindon and Wootton Bassett would have mist lying three or four foot deep, the sun shining down on hedges growing out of soft white numinous fields.

The one who is exhilarated by wind is – as already mentioned – exhilarated by wind. But I fear wind. I dislike its relentless and random violence. Its noise. Its intrusion into my house.

When I was a wee thing, I remember seeing the fitted carpet on the landing in my parents’ house bulging up two or three inches in the middle. It surged like a restless sea.

Wind is a thief, stealing dustbin lids and deckchairs. It is a vandal, turning umbrellas inside out and tumbling rubbish down the street. It destroys trees and property.

I remember driving once down to Plymouth (or was it Portsmouth, or Portishead, perhaps) and counting the broken trees, overturned lorries and barns and houses with their roofs ripped off. We scored 1 for a tree, 3 for a lorry and 5 for a roof. I ended the journey with 87 but he got 93. A shocking desolation.

Winds have names. In Provence, men and women go mad because of the Mistral. And these are European winds. I cannot imagine the careless brutality of a typhoon or hurricane.

Perhaps the reason I like mist and mizzle so much, is that they form in stillness and in silence.

Living in tupperware

I’ve just had, what? 17 days off in a row. Much needed they were, an’ for this respite grateful thanks, an’ all that.

17 days.

The sun shone on three of them.

Still, I remind myself that the reason English women have such beautiful complexions is that we live in a cool damp climate. Our skin never fully dries out.