It has been a very unusual day thanks to the weather. We are surrounded by deep, soft snow and the few main roads are covered by slippery slush and ice. In general, residential roads seem to be covered in clean powdery snow which has been stirred somewhat but barely diminished by the relatively light traffic that has been moving recently. Snowfall seems to have come in short but heavy doses which has ensured that plenty of snow has just hung around for days to be topped up by the next instalment.
I get the impression that the local authority has been reluctant to use much of its stock of salt and grit so early in the season. Only a few very privileged main roads have been treated and in our area this means a road that is nowhere near the major part of the local residential estate. A few days ago our local buses abandoned us to use this main road and today a neighbour informed me that taxi services were not working.
Our normal weekly shopping arrangement (since getting rid of our car) in which daughter, Jennie, drives her mother to the supermarket and they shop together, has been suspended this week. Jennie had a bad dose of ‘flu at the weekend but I was pleased to note today that she is recovering well.
So, this afternoon I adopted an old-fashioned mode of transport, walking. Remember that? For me it has been a leisure activity in recent years rather than a necessity but today I donned an extra pair of socks and some Wellington boots, an extra layer of fleece under my anorak plus cap, scarf and even gloves and set off to our local supermarket with shopping bags in hand. It is not far to that shop but it is an awkward route for pedestrians involving a couple of underpasses and a few steep slopes. At first it was easy enough. All I had to do was push through the deep snow while concentrating on remaining upright. The return journey was more challenging. I had intended to get our weekly shopping in two instalments, one today and another tomorrow, but it was still heavy. I had to stop twice on the way home to put the shopping down and take a few deep breaths before continuing and I consider myself reasonably able to get about under my own steam. How on earth are less able people supposed to cope in these conditions, and what about young mums with their babies and buggies and other children in tow plus piles of shopping?
A couple of weeks ago I sent for a few items from shopfitting suppliers so that I could make an additional display unit for daughter Jennie’s craft stall. The items in question were a few short lengths of chrome-plated steel tube plus fitting to join them together. The service was good and the delivery rapid but (see the picture) did they really think that box was big enough?
Since Henry emerged from hibernation it has been necessary to keep him (in his house) in a warm place with plenty of light. A tortoise is a cold-blooded creature whose own temperature adjusts to the temperature of his surroundings. This and light levels are major factors in keeping him awake and active. If conditions are too cool, or dull, he could easily slip into hibernation without sufficient enegy reserves to sustain him until he awakens.
At this time of year there is only one place in our house where I can maintain the right conditions and that is my “den”. Thus Henry and I have been companions in late winter and early spring for around 25 years. Unfortunately this is hardly convenient as my “den” tends to be the second smallest room in the house. On the other hand, you can’t do too much for a good tortoise!
So Henry is now privileged to occupy the space formerly allotted to my painting activities, which is not the disaster that it might have been. A few days ago I discovered that some painting classes will be starting (or perhaps resuming) in a community centre near here in January. So I will go to the first session (together with a neighbour) to see what it is all about. To paint a short bus journey away from home will require some departure from my usual equipment – much the same alterations in fact that will make it more flexible so that I can work around the presence of Henry in my “studio”. Meanwhile, I have started the latest daub and, if I ever finish it, I will put this one on the blog for the amusement of all.
For now, however, I can only quote Rolf Harris – “Can you see who it is yet?”