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Well, I suppose technically Winter is here, and Spring is coming, but the other makes a better headline.
It was bitterly cold last night, and I was expecting frost, but woke up this morning to find we had actually had a sprinkling of snow. 


After which he apparently decided that the others would have watched, and learned their lesson, and that he didn't need to catch and kill all of them, so he came back indoors to try out his new cat bed.


I *think* it meets with his approval.


Jan. 14th, 2015 07:58 pm
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We were told, yesterday, that we would get snow today. Possibly quite a lot of snow. They were partly right. We got a light  dusting of snow.

(and I got to see that my loft insulation is, it appears, pretty effective, and that my water feature may be a land-shark in its spare time.)
Loki, unimpressed

Judging by the paw-prints, the cats had been outside before I came downstairs, and judging by their expressions, they were not impressed.

It started snowing again quite heavily as I set out for work, but then stopped almost immediately and the snow was all gone by mid-morning, although we've had the pleasure of sleet and wind since, too!
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Saturday evening, after our day spent mainly in the British Library, found us at the Noel Coward theatre, to see Peter and Alice, a new play by John Logan.

I booked the tickets last summer, as the premise sounded interesting, and I wanted to see both Judi Dench (who plays Alice) and Ben Whishaw (Peter). (I've had bad luck before - last time I had tickets to see Judi Dench she sprained her ankle the day before we saw the show, and her understudy was on instead..)

The starting point for 'Peter and Alice' is a real-life meeting between the 80 year old Alice Lidell Hargreaves (who was Lewis Carrol's inspiration and audience for 'Alice in Wonderland') and 35 year old Peter Llewelyn-Davies (who, with his brothers, inspired J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan). There's no record of what they said to one another, so Logan was free to speculate.

We begin by seeing Peter (a publisher) trying to convince Alice to publish her memoires, revealing, in the course of their conversation, that he 'is' "Peter Pan" just as she 'is' "Alice in Wonderland". things get odder from there, as we meet not only Carroll and Barrie, but also the  Alice and Peter from the books. The set becomes fantastical - like a toy theatre decorated with images from both books, and both characters reveal more and more about their lives.

Whishaw is particularly strong; resentful of his borrowed notoriety, deeply scarred by his war-time experience and the loss of two of his brothers, and ultimately deeply pessimistic.

There are many entertaining moments in the play - Peter and Alice arguing with their literary alter-egos, Alice's imperious put downs, and the casual arrogance of the fictional Alice and Peter, too young and fearless to have learned to be afraid.

Olly Alexander made an excellent Peter Pan, capturing just the right feel of the boy who never grew up, and to me, it seemed that the play was far more about Peter Davies than anyone else.

Ultimately, however, the play was slightly disappointing - I enjoyed it, but the players outshone the play; there was rather too much telling, and not quite enough showing, and I suspect that without the superb Whishaw and Dench, the play (which at less than 90 minutes  is pretty short) would drag)

The play is a new one one, and only opened on 9th March, so perhaps the author will consider some re-writes to tighten it up a little... or perhaps not.

I'd give it 5 out of 5 stars, I think - 5/5 for the acting, a little less for the production. But I'm very glad I went, and frankly I'd go to see Judi Dench if she were reading the phone book!

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It's been a busy few days.
On Friday I drove up to London, to visit relations, and to go to the theatre on Saturday. It wasn't a fun drive, lots of rain, sleet and spray, so I was very glad to arrive.
On Saturday, we woke to find it was snowing. Which is not usual, here, at the end of March. And which made the prospect of going Out rather less appealing. But we did.

My cousin J and I went into London - we started off with a trip to the British Library, so see their exhibition about the Mughal Empire, which was fascinating. Being the British Library, the majority of the exhibits were books and other documents, although they did have a rather splendid armoured horse, and a very fancy crown  (which they borrowed from the Queen, who apparently has enough to spare one for a bit).

The exhibition showed how the culture of the Mughal Empire influenced and was influenced by western european visitors, and gave the opportunity to see some lovely pieces of art, and illuminated manuscripts which are not normally on display. Towards the end of the exhibition there were some early photographs, too, taken after the Indian 'Mutiny' of 1857 and showing deserted and looted palaces.

It was well worth seeing, and seemed to be very popular.
While we were at the Library, we also saw their mini exhibition 'Murder in the Library: and A-Z of Crime Fiction', which was entertaining, even if they had to stretch a little for one or two of the letters of the alphabet.
I learned that Baroness Orczy wrote crime fiction (as well as the Scarlet Pimpernel) - stories featuring a plucky female detective, written in around 1910.
We then went on, to visit the Hunterian Museum, which is part of the Royal College of Surgeons.It grew from an original collection begun by John Hunter, and bought by the government in 1799. It's full of bottled body-parts (animal and human) including half of the brain of Charles Babbage, and other medical curiosities. Interestingly, although it seems that many of the specimens were bought, or (in the case of the earlier ones in particular) acquired from 'resurrection men') others were acquired with the donor's full knowledge and consent - a sort of 'celebrity body parts...'

As well ass the human remains, there are various fossils, and zoological specimens, including delicate examples of dissected insects, some of them 200 years old. (This is all the more remarkable when you learn that the museum suffered significant bomb damage during WWII: firebombs and 1000s or specimens pickled in alcohol are not a good combination)

While we were there, there was a 'Promenade performance' by first year drama/design students from the Rose Bruford college of performing arts. The students were moving around among the visitors wearing costumes, and giving a performance both inspired by the collection. It was .. odd.

All of this took us well into the afternoon, so we decided to finish up with a nice cup of tea, and a visit to Foyles, before we went to the theatre. (Yes, of course I ended up buying several books. Was there really any question?)

It carried on snowing the whole time, but wasn't settling ion the roads or pavements, so other than the cold it didn't really effect us.
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This year's Bath Literature Festival ends tonight, and the last event I attended (possibly the last event of the Festival) was a talk by Jon Ronson, about his most recent book, 'Lost at Sea', and the one before that, 'The Psychopath Test'.

I've long enjoyed Jon Ronson's work - he used to have a column in the weekend Guardian, and is the author of 'The Men Who Stare at Goats' and 'Them'. In fact, I blogged about his last Bath Literature Festival appearance, 4 years ago.

Having heard him speak before, I was confident that I was in for an entertaining evening, and I was not disappointed.

Jon started with reading a story which hasn't (yet) made it into a book, about his son, Joel, at the age of 8, wanting to know whether there was a worse swear-word than 'fuck', and if so, what it was., which rapidly caused Ronson, in an attempt to avoid teaching his son anything inappropriate,  to become mired in a swamp of lies, an 8-year old temporarily convinced he has learned the Worst Swear Word in the World, and, increasing guilt "I'd rather he was foul mouthed and accurate than this"

After this light-hearted anecdote Ronson spoke about the starting point for his book, 'The Psychopath Test'.

He described started out by leafing through the DSM ( Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and determining that he has 12 different mental disorders, including general anxiety and malingering, which led to thoughts about the dangers of self-diagnoses, and then, by a series of steps which all sounded very logical when described, via Scientologists to a prisoner names Tony, who spent 14 years in Broadmoor after faking madness in the hope of avoiding a prison sentence (of 5-7 years) for assault, to the worrying knowledge that around 1% of the population is believed to be a psychopath, but the figure rises to around 4% if you look at CEOs and other people in positions of power...

We also learned that if you have been on a course to become a certified psychopath spotter, and wish to interview important  people to work out whether they are psychopaths, it's best not to write and ask them whether you can interview them to test for psychopathic traits. Asking if you can interview them to ascertain whether they have a specific brain anomaly which may be linked to business success, works rather better..

Ronson then moved on to talk about some of the articles in 'Lost at Sea', such as what happens when you borrow a car from Aston Martin in order to recreate James Bond's drive in 'Goldfinger' (flatulence and dislike, mostly), about debt and credit cards, and who they are offered to, and about rich and poor in America.

The evening ended with a Q and A session, and discussion about the NHS and differences between US and UK attitudes, after which I was able to get my copy of 'Lost at Sea' signed, and to have a quick word with Jon. He's a nice man.

It was a very entertaining evening. Despite the cold, and the snow.
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Yesterday was icy cold - it kept trying to snow; there would be a few flakes of snow, then it would give up again.

I went into Bath to pick up some books and tickets from the wonderful Mr B's, and to run a few other errands - including popping into the Post Office to buy some of the new Jane Austen stamps, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice. There's something rather nice about being able to send a stamp featuring 'Persuasion', from Bath. Although I am not sure whether there'll be a legible postmark.

I love this building. Even though it's not a Library any more.

Today I woke to find we had had a tiny bit of snow overnight. Just a light dusting, visible of the roofs of the cars, and on windowsills, and gone within an hour of sunrise. However, the cold makes me think I must have a touch of squirrel, or bear, in my ancestry, as I just was to curl up and hibernate, emerging occasionally for honey and nuts.

I learned yesterday evening that my application to be a giver for World Book Night again this year has been successful, so I shall be handing out copies of Patrick Ness's 'The Knife of Never Letting Go' on or around 23rd April, which makes me happy. It's great sharing books, and I loved watching twitter last night and  seeing lots of other people getting equally excited about joining in, too.

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It stopped snowing yesterday afternoon, but stayed very cold, so today the pavements and the road in my street are all sheets of ice, as there's been enough traffic to compact the snow, but not enough to clear it. It looks as through the roads further out are mostly clear, so I should be able to get to work on Monday, provided we don't get more snow. Although  getting to the end of my own road is likely to be interesting, knowing that the road is clear beyond that is reassuring.

I went out this morning to see how bad the going was likely to be, and then walked down to the station in order to get a train into Bath,  to go to the theatre.

The train was late, and horribly crowded - to the extent that there were people unable to get on, at Avoncliffe. It turns out that Bath Rugby were playing at home this afternoon, which no doubt was part of the reason for it being so crowded. It makes me hopping mad that they never put on any extra trains (or even extra coaches) despite that fact that trains on match days are *always* packed. I imagine that the snow and the lateness made it even worse than usual. And they have just put the fares up. Grr.

Once I got to Bath, I grabbed a pasty for lunch, and took a few photos of nice buildings with snow on them, then back to the theatre to see 'Quartermaine's Terms'

The play, by Simon Gray, is set in a school teaching English as a foreign language, in Cambridge in the 1960s, and is presented as a series of scenes in the staff room, over a period of around 2 years.

There are lots of funny moments, but the play is ultimately a tragic one.

All of the characters experience their own personal disasters, whether in the shape of an unfaithful husband, a dependent and critical mother and unsuccessful love life, a daughter's suicide, a partner's death, snobbery and lack of professional appreciation or family breakdown and failure as a novelist. Everything is presented through the medium of staff room conversation, so practically all of the drama takes place off stage, and we only ever get a partial and understated view of anything.

Quartermaine himself (Rowan Atkinson) presents as, perhaps the saddest of all. He appears to be a well-meaning but ineffectual teacher, and to have no life beyond his job.  Throughout the play he is ignored or taken advantage of by his colleagues, who use him as a babysitter for their children, but forget or turn down his own invitations, and the play finally sees him facing the loss of his job.

There was a little too much of Mr Bean in Rowan Atkinson's performance for my taste, pushing his character from pathos to ridiculous once or twice, but despite this is was an interesting play, and I'm glad I was able to see it.

It is going to the West End now, for (I think) a couple of months - I shall be interested to see what the critics make of it.

My train home was late, which was actually a good thing for me - it meant I was able to get on a train 10 minutes after getting to the station, instead of missing one by 3 minutes and having to wait half an hour, and it was reasonably empty, too, so I got a seat.

The walk home from the station was hard work, due to the ice, but having spent a lot of time over the past 48 hours looking for my yaktrax I gave up and bought some new ones (well these) when I was Bath, so I was able to walk safely.

And I called into one of the local mini markets on the way home and bought a lime, so the well-earned G'n'T I gave myself when I got home could be properly garnished.

Tomorrow, I think I shall try to make another batch of marmalade. It's a nice, warm, indoor occupation.

Snow Day

Jan. 18th, 2013 05:59 pm
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The BBC has been forecasting heavy snow for today, in tones appropriate to an impending apocalypse. I have to admit that I was a bit sceptical, and was expecting to wake up to a heavy frost, or a dusting of snow. However, just in case, I did decide that I would do my grocery shop on the way home last night, rather than on my way home tonight.

However, it turned out that they were right, and I woke instead to about 2" of snow (Not a lot, by the standards of those places which have proper winters with 6' drifts, I know, but a lot for us here)

still thought that I would be able to go into work, but by the time I was ready to leave, 90 minutes later, I decided that would not be such a good idea, as it had been, and still was, snowing quite hard, in additional to which the local police were advising against any but essential journeys, and I saw my opposite neighbour leave, slithering all over everywhere, so I decided that working from home would be the better option.

I think I made the right choice - we ended up closing all of the offices at 2pm so everyone could get home, and I think all of those who were able to get in were either close enough to walk, or had 4x4s.

It continued to snow for most of the day,and we ended up with about 5" of snow, and the bits of road around my house had just enough traffic to compact the snow into a icy mess.

I spent the morning working, but did go out a little later for a short and chilly walk in a monochrome world.

There were lots of bits very decorative bits of ironwork, and the few other people out and about were all friendly. And of course, getting a bit of fresh air and exercise is always good!
I'm not sure Tybalt agrees about that part. He approved of me being home all day, and he approved of the heating being on all day, but he very definitely didn't approve of my poor management in allowing all this cold, wet stuff outside the back door and the front door at the same time!

I was supposed to go to the theatre this evening, in Bath, but that isn't going to happen, as I can't drive there (It's further, more hilly, and on smaller roads than the trip to work would have been, and it's now dark and freezing...) and although I could potentially get a train in, it would involve a cold, dark walk to and from the station, and probably a wait of about 40 minutes for what would be the last trian back, which of course may be cancelled. Fortunately the theatre was very understanding and I was able to change my ticket for one for tomorrow's matinee (when, assuming the snow hasn't gone, I should be able to get trains both ways). It's not such a good seat, but much better than missing the production altogether (tomorrow is the last day).
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So, I had Monday & Tuesday off work, as I had guests.

My plan for Monday went something like this:-
1. Wake up. Revel in the luxury of a Monday morning with no work, and the freedom to sleep late
2. Get up. Wallow in hot bath, then do last minute bed-making and stuff before guests arrive
3. make mince pies
4. Buy bread, milk & cheese, post final parcel
5. Amble down to railway station to  meet guests, walk home with them
6. Give them tea and mince pies, be sociable
7. Have extra friend round, eat, drink and be merry.

I was highly sucessful with items 1-3 on that list, and managed 4, although it was harder work then expected as the streets were quick icy, and it was very cold, and snowing, so walking into town & back was much harder work than usual, and the going to the station disappeared altogether, as guestas were delayed, and in the end got a taxi. However, from then on, things progressed as planned.

As fiends already know, my guests were Jess and Mr Jess. They were due to arrive mid afternoon on Monday, and actually made it around 6, after a journey with many delays - I'm most flattered that they didn't give up half way, to be honest! And they brought wine, and chocoloate, and the poster I had ordered, and which they kindly carried across the Atlantic for me. They are Good Guests, and will be welcome back any time :-) And they entertained Tybalt a lot.
Me & Jess, for the 'pictures or it didn't happen bunch

Cheryl  came over for supper, and brought chocolates. She, too, is a Good Guest.

here was a certain amount of eating, and even some drinking and some making merry. 'Twas fun.

On Tuesday we decied to go & be a bit touristy in Bath. It turns out I suck at being a tour guide. I suggested we see the Herschel museum, but failed to find out in advance that it had, in fact, closed for the winter*. 
Then afterwards I suggested that we go look at the titthe barn in Bradford on Avon, which turned out to be being locked up just as we got there. Still, we did look at the Abbey, and there was a very nice pub lunch with some festive beer, and a nice independent bookshop, so all was not entirely lost.

And the outside of the tithe barn looked pretty in the snow, and we walked a little by the canal, which was frozen, (and we were not foolish enough to try to walk on the ice).

It's possible that there may have been a little more making merry that evening, too.

Sadly, on Wednesday, I had to go back to work, and Jess & Paul to go back to do family Christmassy things, but I enjoyed myself, and hope they did too.

(*Actually, their website doesn't mention that they are closed for the winter either, so I maybe don't suck quite as much as I thought)

marjorie73: (Default)

It has mosty been a fairly dull week - cold, and uneventful, and I have mainly just been going to work, and trying to remember to go to bed early, being knackered.

Friday, however, was a little more interesting -in the evening was our work Christmas meal, and earlier, we were having snow forecast. It did snow a little - just a sprinkling, enough to make eveything look pretty, but not enough to stop me going out.

I'd left myself a lttle extra time to drive to work, in case of snow or ice, which meant I had time to stop to take a picture or two as the sun came up, as I drove across the hills.

By the time I got home it was much colder, and my enthusiasm for the work Christmas party was rapidly waning - I alwayss end up fretting about what to wear, and the possibility of being over- or under-dressed, and knowing how foolish this is doesn't seem to make much difference. However, once there, I quite enjoyed myself - although I was glad to get home.

I didn't sleep well, and woke up very early; after giving up on the prospect of getting back to sleep I got out of bed and looked out of the window to find that it had snowed, quite heavily (for England) overnight, so I  got up to go out and play in the snow. It was early enough that the sun wasn't yet up, and no-one else had been out, and there is something irresistable about pristine, unmarked snow...
I went down by the stream behind the houses opposite - as you can see, the sun was just coming up and gave everything a pinkish glow.

Livng in a town, as I do, you rarely get to her silence (yes, I know. But you know what I mean) it was lovely to be out with no sound but the creak of the snow as I walked, and birdsong, and the trickle of water from the stream.

As I am quite practically minded, even when admiring the beauties of nature, I took the opporunity to walk down to the paper shop and buy some milk, as I guessed (correctly, as it turned out) that my milkman would probably not be making any deliveries.

On the way, I found myself reminded that even the most prosaic of things, such as a streetlight, can turn out to be unexpectedly beautiful, in the right conditions.                                                                                         

It seemed as though most households were still asleep as I walked past - those few where there were lights on all seemed to be people who had got up early in order to watch the Ashes si as I walked by, in the snow, I could see glimpses of  bright sunshine, and cricketers, as though a little piece of summer was spilling out into the winter landscape, to remind us that all things will pass...

A little later in the morning, as I was making coffee and looking out into the street from the shelter of my nice warm kitchen, I saw the little girl who lives across the road come out of her house. she had, I suppose, just woken up & seen the snow, as she came bouncing out in her pyjamas and wellinigton boots, bouncing around like an excited puppy. (She didn't stay out for long - so I didn't need to get too worried about her lack of proper winter clothing)

I spent most of the rest of the day catchinng up with housework, and then dressing my Christmas tree and wrapping presents, which, together with the snow, put me in a properly festive mood.

Now, if everyone could keep their fingers crossed for the snow to go (and for  no more to fall) by next weekend, so that we can all made it down to the parent's house for Christmas.... (Once we're all their, it can snow as much as it likes, just not before, please. 'Kay?)


Dec. 2nd, 2010 08:25 pm
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It is very, very cold.
Not, of course, for those of you in truly cold places such as Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Iowa, but cold-for-England. It's about -3 celsius, And feels every degree of it.

Lots of parts of the country have had snow - unusually early and heavy. We had a sprinkling on Friday night, and a little more on Monday night - just a few milimetres, but enough, having frozen overnight, to make driving the first little bit of the way to work ....interesting.

On Monday,when I had a day off , I went into Bath to do some Christmas shopping. Bath has a Christmas Market, which runs for about 3 weeks - lot of craftspeople, selling all sorts of lovely things and interesting foodstuffs. I managed to finish off most of my shopping, which is a relief - I like giving people things,and the pleasure of trying to find thibgs which he recipient will really like, but I hate crowds, and don't much like shopping, so shopping in crowds is definitely not my thing!

Then on Thursdaay, having watched most of the rest of the country being half buried in snow, and been lulled into a false sense of security, I woke up to find that it had snowed properly overnight.

I was a little worried, as I was due to go to  meeting the other side of Bath, and there are rather a lot of hilly bits in between, but as it turned out, once I got out onto the main road the roads were all pretty clear, and the countryside was looking pretty.

Coming home was less fun, though - I found that the roads leading into my street had had just enough traffic to ensure that the snow had been compacted down into ice, which was starting to freeze...

Driving on an ice rink is not my idea of fun. (At least in my own car and with lots of things to hit) It's forecast to be colder than ever tonight.

marjorie73: (Default)

(originally posted at )
Well, it's still rather chilly. (Cold and beautiful satellite picture borrowed from the
BBC, who got it from NASA) Apparently we had temparatures of -10C overnight last night. The compacted snow on the street (and on the pavement, except the little bit outside my house which I shovelled, and salted with dishwasher salt) froze, so everywhere was like a slightly uneven ice-rink.
So no, I didn't try to drive to work. Given that my route to work involves lots of hilly country roads, several of which were spotring exciting black ice even before all the snow, I think it would be fool-hardy to try, even if I were able to get out of the housing estate I live on.

Fortunately,I was able to get a reasonable amount of work done via the wonders of modern technology, and the office was in any event closed at 4 p.m. so everyone could get home.
 The snow, which was (as previous pictures testify) suitable for snowmen and snowballs on Wednesday has become much more powdery now - if there was a hill within walking distance I would be tempted to improvise a sled and re-discover my inner 5 year old, but there isn't, so I didn't.
(although this Police Officer, in London, found the perfect use for his riot shield!)
Yesterday, I didn't go out all day, then suddenly felt cooped up so went out for some fresh air as the sun set. It was a little eerie, wandering along snowy streets in the fading light.
Today, it seemed to be even colder. The sun came out in the morning but, unlike yesterday, there was no sign of even slight thawing. I went out in the afternoon, to visit the local library in order to do some printing and photocopying. Again, it was lovely to look at, less comfortable to fall over on, which I duly did, despite, nice grippy-soled boots and preternatural care. Fortunately I escaped any injury except to my dignity, and slighly grazed knee, and as I was on my way home I was able to get back indoors and get warm before the snow on my hands & knees melted and left me too cold and miserable.

I can't help thinking, however, that if I lived somewhere with real winters I might quickly get tired of living in such a monochrome landscape


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