Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Spot the Canadian

Back in February, I blogged about snow in a mild climate. Well it has snowed again here in southern England and once again there is chaos on the roads. I will cut slightly more slack for yesterday, when it rained in the afternoon which slowly turned to snow as the temperature dropped. That, on top of the snow that has been around since Friday made for very slippery conditions. People in the nearby towns abandoned their cars and walked the couple of miles back home, rather than spending another several hours in stopped traffic. I've read accounts of people taking over an hour to move 200 metres down the road and four hours sitting at the bottom of a hill with plenty of others stuck in their cars for company.

Once again, I was one of only two people who cleaned off our sidewalk. It surprises me how ingrained it is into me to shovel off the snow, but it is. The only other person I saw removing the snow last week? A woman sweeping the snow away from the front of the pharmacy. She used to live in Germany, so once again the old connection pops up (read my other blog post if you don't know what I mean). As I'm the only house that has clean sidewalk, if you live in Cookham, it might be fairly easy today to spot the house where I live, hence spot the Canadian.

I know when I walk down a snowy street I find myself alternately thanking and cursing the owners of the house I was walking past, depending on whether they have bothered to clear their sidewalks. I'm not bothering to curse at anyone, but I am feeling slightly smug, thinking that people might be inwardly thanking me for my consideration of them. They may be thinking I'm a fool to have bothered, but I will continue to take pride in having a cleared sidewalk. As long as it remains a novelty of once or twice a year at least!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Dark and Light

There's several things that I don't understand about the UK, but the one that plagues me the most is why they insist on being in a different zone than most of the rest of Europe. Right now it's 4:30pm here and with the rain, it's horribly, horribly dark and depressing. If it was 5:30pm, like it is in France and Spain, due south of here, it might be almost tolerable. But no, being an hour later means the sun sets an hour earlier.

Actually, it's in summer that this bothers me the most. On June 21st, the longest day of the year, the sun rises in Dover at the excruciatingly early hour of 4:36am. In Calais, a mere 34 km to the south-east and for the purposes of my rant, close enough in longitude and latitude to be the same, it rises at 5:35. Does this seem fair? Birds and small children don't understand clocks, they understand the sun is up and therefore you (that is, ME) should be up as well. Nearly all of Great Britain is in longitude line with France and Spain, which both use Central European time. Why doesn't Great Britain? WHY? Why make such extraordinarily early sunrises in summer and early sunsets in the winter? It's hardly like this country gets moving at the crack of dawn.