Monthly Archives: January 2021

Snow Magic

What a weekend? More snow than we’ve seen for ages!

Stray Snowman

It came amazingly quickly on Friday morning, wiped out most possible outdoor activity on Friday and Saturday, started melting on Sunday, but slowly – and waking up on Monday morning it was all gone!

I love the way that snow comes so quickly and quietly. To wake up with a snowy covering outside is little short of magic to me. Such a surprise that it takes a few seconds to work out what’s happened. In these Covid times it’s especially wonderful, even if it’s another reason not to be able to go out!

Yes, I know we’ve seen snow before, and shouldn’t be surprised, but it’s really become quite unusual in the UK, even in winter.
I recall some heavy snow on a Friday afternoon when I was living near the bottom of Pool Bank. I had to abandon my car at a hotel at the top of the Bank, and walk home it was so deep, so quickly. Even with the inconvenience, there was a wonder to it.
Now, being retired, there is no burning urgency to get to work or to keep to a schedule. It seems OK:

To wonder at the size of the snowflakes (they were big weren’t they this weekend).
To listen to the lovely noise that’s made when you walk on fresh snow, compressing it under your feet.
To observe the effects of snow laying on different sorts of trees – even evergreen trees, firs and pines, vary in the patterns the snow make on their slightly different way their branches lay.

Of course if the temperature remains low the snow can soon turn to ice, on pavements and roads. Spinning car wheels can make it glassy smooth, even though it’s tempting to walk on the road rather than the less yielding icy old snow on the pavements. I guess that those of more mature years do need to be a bit careful not to slip and break something. Nobody wants to have to go to hospital at the moment!

There have been some really long periods in the past when the snow has turned to ice and stayed to become a nuisance and a danger for months – was it 1947? ( I was a too young to go out then!) I do recall a winter and spring when it stayed bitter for months – 1963? Like all the ’60s, if you weren’t there you wouldn’t believe it!
This snowfall was a double surprise for me. My regular FaceTime call with my sister in Western Australia revealed that she was ‘suffering’ in 43 degrees and high humidity!

Now if you had to choose, which climate would you go for!

Time on our Hands!

We had an excellent Zoom talk yesterday by John Hope, with a good turnout of more than 25 members signing in.

He was talking about ‘Time through the Ages‘. It was very informative, taking us on tour of the various approaches and inventions of the Babylonians, Egyptians, Arabians, Greeks etc. Not forgetting Galileo (with his pendulum clocks), and our own Isaac Newton and John Harrison.

John Hope covered a wide range of aspects of time including the historical (24 hours came from the Egyptians and 60 seconds came from the Babylonians) and the methods used (moon, sun, sand hour glasses, candle, water, astronomical, mechanical, atomic)

John produced some lovely stories including the advent of Railway Time (1840), when the differences between a standardised national time and local times, which could differ by 20 minutes or more, required station clocks to have two small hands as well as the single hour hand!

There was also a contemplative note in the talk, about why we use, and whether we need the largely artificial construct of time.

Made me think that, with the pandemic-caused lockdown, time has taken a whole different meaning for most of us – retired people especially.

It’s clearly affected me, as I ceased these ramblings during the first two lockdowns (apologies if you missed them, sorry if you didn’t). I’ve pulled myself together now, and realised I have the time!

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