Archive for January, 2010

Snow News Is…

January 11th, 2010

uksnow.jpgA glory of our common provincialism is the weather we know…and so often discuss. That gives us the chance too for being amused at the corresponding climate provincialism of others.

My father moved from Keene to Tacoma, which gave him that chance. He reveled in the myth that the Pacific Northwest was constantly rainy. In fact, our area here gets more precipitation, although less of the mist sort they had there.

Likewise from my years in the South, I got used to the difference 70 degrees make. At that temperature, a Southerner will put on sweaters. Yankees are likely to go to a tee-shirt.

Then there’s snow. A high school chum typified that distinction when she moved to one of  my childhood towns, Danville, Virginia, three miles above North Carolina. She said how glad she was to be out of New Jersey’s snowy weather. I, on the other hand, recall a great freak snowstorm there of over two feet when I was 9 or so. I love my cross-country skiing.

So there we were in London less than a week ago. We were staying with my brother-in-law’s family in Virginia Water, a village a couple of miles West of Greater London in Surrey. The day and night before we headed to Heathrow for Boston, we had a record snow. It was the largest fall in the past 20-plus years — two inches.

The airport was under a dozen miles away, normally a 20-minute drive.  Yet there was some concern about whether Heathrow would be operating and whether the roads would be passable.

In Southern England, they don’t use what we think of as all-weather tires,  much less snow tires. A snow is not only rare, when it comes, it almost always is a dusting. For this one, the local schools and businesses shut down. Getting to the motorway via country lanes was slow and the roads were hardly plowed, but the main road was OK.

As it turned out, Heathrow was open and our flight left only 20 minutes late, as one of the runways was not completely clear. When we got home, we found that the six inches in the lower part of Boston was a bit deeper on top of our Hyde Park hill with its micro-climate.  The next morning, I was moving around about 8 or 9 inches. What would Virginia Water  made of that?

Lest I feel superior and rugged, I think of chums in Minnesota and Idaho, who in turn laugh at what we consider a lot of snow.

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Hyde Park Hides

January 11th, 2010

hojo.jpgStanding before the first-floor toilet a few minutes ago, I saw a coyote trotting down the middle of Summit Street. Having something other than a camera in hand, I’ll have to wait for another shot to record such sightings.

Even the few free dogs here are shy about being in the street. Summit there particularly makes other canines cautious because the number 24 bus runs there.

The beasty continued down the street toward the Police Academy. If the neighbors are accurate, it may have been cat hunting at 8:41 a.m.

We hear that a den of them live in the abandoned land on the Milton/HP border. That was the former site of the estate of Howard Johnson of 28-flavors fame.  On the Google map here, that would be the forested area in the lower right.

Dog walkers routinely go into the woods there — and emerge. I’m  not fond of fending off wild canines, but coyotes here allegedly want smaller, easier-to-eat game.

I do wish they’d turn their attend to squirrels. We  have too many of those, I want a garden in my first summer here, and we inherited  many heavy plastic trash cans with jagged baseball-sized holes gnawed by the ragged, rugged rodents.

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Pix Picks

January 11th, 2010

I’m not huge on snapshots (my digital camera does make pretend shutter noises), but we had a jolly time in and around London. I’ll post some artsy shots and some family ones.

A few (click for larger view at my PhotoBucket) in the former category include:

A detail from a cabana at Beachy Head on the channel.

England,Virginia Water,London,stone

Decorative stone ball from Virginia Water’s former insane asylum.

England,Susswex,Seven Sisters,ice,stream

The tidal streams and pools in Seven Sisters park, Sussex, had fragile ice.


A lot of what the Brits call frosties was in evidence this trip.
England,Susswex,Seven Sisters,tree,wind

Tree at Seven Sisters County Park, Sussex, trained by English Channel winds.

England,Winchester,Jane Austen,door

Understated Christmas decoration on Jane Austen’s door, Winchester.