The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Start As You Mean To Go On…

…Go On As You Started

I did indeed start as I meant to go on.

Even after the point of boredom with the local paths over fields, I persisted.

The mud did put me off a bit, but not so much as the horses chasing me.

Then somehow I ceased to go on as I had started.

So, although the stats for January looked better than they’ve ever looked, February has lagged woefully behind:

image At a glance, the ascent graph looks a little better:

image Then you look at the scale and realise that in January I achieved, over the course of 102 miles, almost no ascent, and in February I achieved a tiny bit more than almost-none.

Hey ho. I have a couple of very vague plans up my sleeve that may just make the graphs look a bit prettier in March.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Gosh! Two Whole Years!

I just looked at today's date and some cogs started whirring in my mind. A few clicks of the mouse and I had my answer.

It seems it was two years and two days ago that I had a day of poorliness that caused me not to go to work. Sitting (exactly where I am now, on the sofa, laptop on knee) in the living room I was not only feeling poorly but also feeling rather bored. In such a state it suddenly seemed like a good use of my time to read up on how to set up a blog.

A couple of hours later, this record of random thoughts, trip reports, gear ramblings and general nonsense had been born.

Four hundred and thirty five posts later (436 if you count this one), and it is still going. Apparently, some people actually read it these days too - and for that I thank you.

Monday, 23 February 2009

The Bicycle And A Rab Photon

Bicycle Update

Almost a month ago I reported my efforts to get my bicycle back up and running, which efforts came to an abrupt halt when I couldn’t work out how to put the derailer (as I’ve now been told that it is called) back onto the bike, with the particular issue of the nut that fell off without me noticing where it came from.

The following day I took advantage of the staff in the bicycle section of Halfords being far too busy chatting to each other to pay any attention to a person browsing their department, and had a good look at how these things usually fit. I came away armed with a good idea where the mystery part went.

I then waited another week and a half, until Mick was home to lend me a third hand, but found that once I knew how it was supposed to go together, it was pretty easy with just the two hands. Didn’t even get them too oily.

The bike then languished for another couple of weeks, because there turned out also to be a problem with the front brake and I know as much about bicycle brakes as I do about derailers.

It was a need to visit the local Post Office last week that finally chivvied me into action. As much as I’m happy to wander aimlessly around the local fields for miles at a time, I really can’t be doing with having to walk into the village to go to the Post Office, so I needed my wheels.

Half an hour of staring at, then gingerly prodding the brake (unsurprisingly) didn’t achieve anything, so I took the bull by the horns and disassembled it (taking careful note this time as to where things fitted). A broken part was soon diagnosed and thanks to some ingenuity with a cable tie, was fixed. A few adjustments of adjustment screws, and both brakes were fully operational (an experience on my previous lacking-in-brakes bicycle told me that functioning brakes are definitely A Good Thing).

So, the bicycle lives.  Hurrah for the bicycle!

The Photon Hoody

The bicycle was in my mind because today I needed, once again, to pop down to the Post Office to pick up a parcel.

As I suspected, parcel contained Mick’s new Rab Photon Hoody. He’s been lusting after one for a while and at the weekend succumbed and ordered one.

I’ve nothing in particular to say about the item – but I thought that I’d post a photo of me modelling it for Mick’s benefit, so he can get to see it before the weekend.


I can report that I was fairly glowing after five minutes of wearing it, but that may be something to do with having just cycled up the hill (small slope really – I’m just not used to cycling!) from the village.

The taking of the photo actually became a mini-project of its own. I first tried, without much success, using various surfaces in the living as a camera stand. Then I remembered that I have a stash of tripods upstairs and that would be a far better solution and would allow me to use the (marginally) better light outside. Adjusting the tripod involved the loss of a chunk out of one of my fingers, and the result of the entire photo-project was a series of remarkably dodgy photographs – most of which look like I’m entering some sort of gurning competition.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Yet More Same Old

When: Today

Where: Cannock Chase

How far: 13.5 miles

How high: 1800 feet of ascent

Anything interesting? We saw a Red Kite! First one we’ve seen in the Midlands. Three woodpeckers too. And a million people (of whom, it seemed to us, an unusually high proportion were wearing red jackets).

Fortunately it didn’t rain beyond a bit of half-hearted drizzle; we were about nine miles in when I realised that the hood of my jacket was sitting on a chair at home. Must remember to reattach it to my jacket before I venture out next.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

A Bargain on Ebay!

The Scarpa ZG65: my favourite boot. I walked 1000 miles in a pair last year and although they are now showing signs not just of wear, but also of neglect and abuse, they have been very comfortable throughout.

The only complaint I had about them was the silly light-blue colour. I ask you, is this a sensible colour for a walking boot?


Needless to say, my pair didn’t look like that beyond their first twenty miles, and even though I scrubbed them at some length today, they have not returned to anything approaching their original colour.

I’ve resisted binning them, on the basis that they’re still good for a few miles, but I wouldn’t put them through another two-week walk. So, I have for a while acknowledged that I will need to replace them before the TGO Challenge, and the obvious choice for replacement was another pair of the same.

I’m not sure whether it is my inherent tightness, or my lack of an income, or just the fact that I don’t need them quite yet, that has stopped me buying the replacements before now, but for whatever reason although I’ve looked at and fondled many pairs, I’ve resisted committing to the purchase.

Then two nights ago (coincidentally, I now realise, exactly a year since I bought my last pair), I was doing my one of my periodic tent and backpack searches on Ebay, when boredom and idle curiosity caused me to continue my searching by typing in Scarpa.

My eyes nearly popped out of my head on stalks when I saw a pair of brand new (with tags) ZG65s, in my size at a ‘Buy It Now’ price of £65 (the RRP is £120, and most shops seem to sell them in my size at not less than £110). The postage was an entirely reasonable £4 (I can’t even get to town and back on the bus for that!).

Now, I know that it is generally ill-advised to buy boots without trying them. However, both my pairs of Scarpas (I have some ZG10s too) fit me just fine, so at the price I thought it was worth the risk. Wondering what the catch was, I snapped them up.

This afternoon, there I was, hands in the sink, scrubbing mud off my old ZG65s, when appeared the Postie, clutching a boot-sized box.  Inside of it I found exactly the item that had been described: brand new, my size – and in a far more sensible colour than my old pair.

P2190001aYes, the pair on the left did once look like the picture at the top of this post!

P2190002aI hadn’t realised quite how worn down my old pair were until I compared them with the new 

I’ve worn them around the house all afternoon (they don’t half squeak on the kitchen floor!) and indications are that they fit just fine, albeit I know from experience that shoes that feel fine around the house can be crippling when twisting your feet every which way on a rough hillside.

I’ve never before had much joy with Ebay. When buying the price always goes too high, yet when I’m selling I find myself almost giving stuff away. Perhaps it’s because I’m not prepared to dedicate much of my time to the site in order to seek out the bargains and to work out the best way to sell. However, this week was apparently my time for bargains, as yesterday I made another purchase at what I consider to be a ridiculously low price. Hopefully that item will arrive tomorrow, then it will be time for the sewing machine to come back out…

Glenmore Lodge – Weekend Winter Skills

Would I recommend it? Absolutely!

My view may be marginally biased by the first class conditions that we found there. Had we been a week earlier, we would not have made it out onto the hills on the Saturday as the mini-buses couldn’t get out for the snow. Had we been two days later the warm temperatures would have given us soft, wet snow. We could not have timed it better (incredibly lucky, considering that we booked six weeks in advance).

The course cost £205 each. For that we got a good-sized twin en-suite room in the new wing of the Lodge, all of our food on the Saturday and the Sunday (which was plentiful and included some uncommonly good cake), the loan of all of the required equipment, the tuition at a ratio of six people per instructor, plus a couple of lectures. To me, that felt like reasonable value.

My only gripe was that the man in the stores insisted that we needed a 1:50k map each. I have a 1:25k map of the area, but apparently that wasn’t suitable, and he was quite definite that we absolutely had to have a 1:50k map each, so we had to buy two maps from the Lodge. We didn’t use them at all on the Saturday and I only got mine out on the Sunday because I had it. I could just as easily not have used it. Mick’s did go unused. Another couple to whom I was talking, who were in another group, had taken along a 1:25k between them but also followed the instructions and bought a 1:50k each and then were only told to look at them to see what a 1km square looked like. They also felt a little aggrieved.

But if we ignore that one minor point, I could find little fault the rest of the weekend.

We started on a level playing field with the other four people in our group: they all said that they had done lots of summer walking, but had not done any serious winter walking.

As for the content of the course, I expected a bit of walking, and to learn how to use an ice axe and crampons, with a bit about navigation and avalanche risk. What I hadn’t appreciated was how much I didn’t know about the avalanche risk (unconsciously unconscious – a dangerous position to be in!).

Even in the last few weeks there has been evidence in the news of the disastrous results of avalanches in Scotland, but I confess that somehow they existed in my mind as something that happened to other people, in other places – so from just the aspect of modifying that illusion the weekend was valuable. The evening lecturer recounted a number of incidents that he had witnessed. We had earlier the same day walked past the point where, a few years before, he had found himself having to dig out three of his group. Scary.

I had also expected the entire weekend to be stop-start, with a lot of standing around for instruction. Although that was the case on the Saturday, on the Sunday we took an almost seamless circular walk over Cairn Gorm, receiving hints, tips and technique pointers at the same time.

We didn’t take many photos of the weekend, mainly because we were too busy to be capturing events on film (or memory cards). Those that we did take (together with a couple of movie-clips of such a bad quality that they look like they were captured on cine-film) are in the following compilation:


Monday, 16 February 2009

Neither Slipping nor Sliding

With mildly aching limbs, another day started, albeit with a bit less rush than the day before.

At 9am we were promptly onto a minibus and doing battle with the forty thousand people intent on spending the day at the ski centre.

After checking the avalanche and weather reports and a discussion on both, off we set up the hill and gradually away from most of the skiing activity.

Huffing and puffing I was, as we proceeded upwards at some considerable speed until finally time for a break and a snackette was called. We then proceeded at something of a more leisurely and sensible pace until, just below a ridge and being hit by the full force of the wind, we stopped to don crampons and helmets and to liberate our ice axes.

A bit more instruction as to technique was had as we zig-zagged our way up the ridge and before we knew it the summit of Cairn Gorm was just 100m above us. Having gone so far it would have been rude not to have popped up to the summit, so that's exactly what we did.

Eeeh, it was a bit nippy with that buffetting wind up the top, and we tarried quite a while whilst people took photos and we decided what we were going to do next.

What we did next was to make our way through the throngs on the slopes to contend with fresh deep snow.

Part way down a snow shelter was built. Out came seven shovels; all of our rucksacks were thrown into a pile, and we proceeded to cover them with a huge pile of snow. Then came the fun part, as we tunnelled in to retrieve the packs and start hollowing out the rest of the snow. Forty minutes later we had a shelter big enough for two, and being shivering cold by that point we quickly abandonned it to continue back down to the car park.

The final descent was 'interesting'. The thaw meant that there was by this point no hard layer in the snow to stop us sinking in. Regularly a leg was lost to the hip and with an 'oooh' a person launched headfirst into the snow. At one particular point it got so difficult to maintain my feet that I decided that the easiest way down was via sledgeless sledging.

We were soon back at Glenmore Lodge, drinking tea and eating cake before we made a run for it and joined the forty thousand people driving away from the ski centre, for our six hour journey back to Halifax.

It was a fantastic weekend and we were incredibly lucky with the conditions, with plenty of snow lying, but with dry, clear days.

(oh, and those mildly aching limbs of yesterday morning - they really ache now!)

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Slip Sliding Away...

It has been a long old day, and it's not yet finished.

Hot on the heels of breakfast was the welcoming brief and shortly
thereafter we were due to meet our leaders and get started.

As is always the case when there's a group to get organized, it took
an unfeasibly long time to get everyone together and ready. Even our
estimate that we would be an hour late leaving turned out to be a
little optimistic.

Finally, into a minibus we piled to be whisked up the road to the ski
area where our practical day was to start - and where it turned out
that three quarters of the UK population had flocked today.

We were soon away from the crowds and towards a ridge we headed where,
after learning more about avalanche risk, and doing some work on
walking techniques, the good fun stuff started - ice axe self arrest.

Most of us picked up the basic technique reasonably quickly and felt
quite pleased with ourselves until challenged to repeat the manoeuvre
from various starting positions.

I had one run, which I believe started with me sliding down the slope
face down and head first, where I completely failed to arrest. It was
my first attempt with the axe in my 'wrong' hand and as I accelerated
head first downwards I couldn't think (almost literally for the life
of me) where I was supposed to be placing the axe.

I'm pleased to say that subsequent runs were more successful (if you
can count anything that involves vast quantities of snow up your top
as being a success).

After another, not insubstantial, walk we had found ice and it was
time for the crampons to come out. Now, that I found scary. Perhaps
the bluntness of the crampons I had been given served to shake my
confidence, but I think it was more just my brain screaming "it's ice,
you're going to slip." Of course, I didn't slip and the basics of
another skill was acquired.

The walk back to the ski centre took a while and was in very flat
light, but we couldn't complain given the good weather and visibility
we had enjoyed.

That was not our day over, though. We just had time to throw back a
cup of tea, accompanied by scrummy flapjack before we hurried along to
the first of the evening lectures (and a good lecture it was too).

I now type this in the half an hour of free time before tea, then hot
on the heels of tea is the final lecture. At 9pm we become free to
enjoy a pint in the bar - or perhaps to collapse into bed.

It's certainly been a good day so far, which will hopefully be
equalled when we put our fledgling new skills into practice tomorrow.

Friday, 13 February 2009

At Glenmore Lodge

The journey was long but easy and uneventful and at just after 6pm we
were half a mile from Glenmore Lodge.

With unfortunate timing we arrived at the access road just as a
bottleneck had ocurred further along - a situation compounded by an
apparent lack of reversing ability by two drivers.

We got here in the end though and a flurry of activity ensued. We're
now kitted out with all of the gear we'll need, but our crampons have
not yet been adjusted. Despite instruction to return to stores at
8.30pm for that purpose I was resolute that I had to eat before I did
anything else.

I now sit here with my second dinner. The first was nice, but having
tipped it in sideways I was still hungry so beat last orders by
moments for my second plate of food.

Although it was drizzling as we arrived conditions look promising for
our purposes with a good foot of snow lying, and - even better - the
forecast looks reasonably dry for the weekend.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Mud And An Igloo

For seven days snow has covered our lawn. This morning I woke up to find that it had rained for most of the night and that a mass thaw had set in.

What a thaw indicated to me was that the fields were going to be muddier than muddy (and they were very muddy indeed on my last outing), but I have neglected to exercise my legs much over the last couple of weeks, so I selected a minimum-mud route, and off I set.

The mud was horrendous in places, and standing water was prevalent, but I didn’t loose a boot (I did find a shoe stuck in one quagmire, which looked suspiciously like its occupant had inadvertently stepped out of it, but surely you would notice the loss of such an item?).

It was a lovely day for it too. Sunglasses would definitely have been a bonus as it seemed that, even though I walked a circular route, the sun was in my eyes about 90% of the time.

The stats for the day were 10 miles walked with a whole 400 feet of ascent – a meagre amount of ascent, but made more difficult by the slip-slidey nature of it. Oh, and I passed an igloo (twice, but the sun had made it a collapsed igloo by the time I returned).

Monday, 9 February 2009

Random Stuff

Note: When I say ‘today’ below I mean ‘yesterday’. I typed this last night, but failed to post it!

On Topic

I had wanted to set out early today for a ‘long’ walk. Mick interjected with the reality of a dozen chores and errands which had to be completed. So, I got up especially early to rush through those chores and errands and just after lunch we were ready for the walk.

Unexcitingly, we chose the Chase again, as (apparently) had the whole world and his wife. Our usually quiet car park was full, but strangely, except for a handful of people seen in the vicinity of the car park, elsewhere it was unusually quiet.

The snow started about five miles into the walk and by six miles it was coming down fast and heavy.

At mile 8 I decided that I was a fair-weather walker (or, more precisely, that I don’t like walking when there’s heavy snow falling) and called for an abandonment of the intended final 4 miles.

Even so, after the blazing pace we had set I got back to the (now almost deserted) car park feeling decidedly exercised.

Although there weren’t many people around, there was plenty of evidence of activity earlier in the week, not only by the compacted snow on the paths, but moreover by the many huge snow-balls and snow men. It’s not a good picture (someone forgot the camera…), but this was the best set of snow-things. The one on the left was in the shape of a big rabbit with a little bunny in front of it.


The Chores

More interesting than our umpteenth repetition of one of our Chase training walks was my first chore of the morning – to make Mick his birthday cakes, ready for him to take to work tomorrow.

It’s not his birthday until later in the week, but as we’re away next weekend, the cakes (ridiculously rich chocolate ones) needed to be made today.


It is the most fantastically unhealthy recipe, but my, it does taste good! I did sneak myself a corner as I cut it up, and immediately put on another two pounds.

The Goggles

Mick accused me of being exceptionally grumpy last night, and grumpy I was. We need our ski-goggles next weekend, and having found that they weren’t where I thought they were the grumpiness mounted as I conducted a fruitless search of all of the other places they could have be secreted.

I really don’t like losing things; moreover when they are imminently needed and not cheaply replaced.

There was only one other place that I could think that they could be, and that was in the snowboard bag. The problem was that, having concluded that our snow-boarding days are over, we gave away that snowboard bag, together with its contents, a couple of months ago. 

Fortunately, the recipient of the kit was Mick’s brother and a quick phone call this morning told us that the goggles were indeed inadvertently given away. Ooops.

They have, however, now been reclaimed and hopefully Royal Mail will help us out by getting them back to us in time for next weekend.

New Kit and Employment

Our weekly walk occurred in the poor weather of today because in the stunning weather of yesterday we opted to pop over to Cotswold Outdoor in Birmingham. Mick was disappointed by the available stock (or more precisely, he was disappointed that they didn’t stock a number of things that he particularly wanted to fondle). I was disappointed that I haven’t got the pennies for any of the nice things that I wanted.

I did splash out (in Snow & Rock) on a pair of Powerstretch tights, in the hope of keeping on the right side of freezing during our activities next weekend, but everything else was resisted.

Job hunting starts in earnest tomorrow – I need kit-tokens!

(Monday update: True to my word, I spent most of the day searching for jobs and even applied for some of them. Fingers crossed.)

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Making A Quilt

Quilts. Quilts for backpacking purposes, that is. You don’t hear much about their use in the UK, do you?

Rab has its Topbag, which seemed to employ the main principle of the quilt (i.e. there’s no point in having insulation under you because it gets crushed and gives no warmth).

The problem* that I have with a product like a Topbag is that I roll around during the night and fear that the uninsulated side would end up on top of me repeatedly. On the same basis, I didn’t think that a quilt would work for me either.

I now find my ‘I couldn’t use a quilt’ and ‘Quilts are not for UK backpacking’ theories shaken, for I have now not just seen and felt one, but made one to a tried and tested design. I was mightily impressed with that design (perhaps my preconceptions were just too low – I think quilt and I think of a non-technical rectangle of insulation-filled fabric).

All of this came about when a large box arrived from Darren, containing the quilt kit that he had ordered from Ray Jardine.

Late on Monday afternoon, with time on my hands, curiosity as to the exact contents of the box (and the exact nature of the task for which I had volunteered myself) got the better of me and, after a brief battle with the packing tape, the contents were liberated and explored.

After reading the eight pages of instructions twice over, I felt ready to make a start so during the evening I laid out the material and (after a bit of input from Darren to tell me how big he was) did the initial cutting, to bring the shell material and the insulation down to the basic size.

Tuesday was a big-time-snow-day and I had no desire to go out and play in it, which gave me the entire day to dedicate to quilt making.

According to the Ray Jardine website, a novice can make the quilt in five to eight hours. I didn’t time myself, but can say with certainty that it took me significantly longer than that. However, given that I wasn’t making it for myself, I made doubly sure that I got all of the measurements right and read each individual instruction three times over before I acted on it. I don’t think that Ray’s timings allow for being unhappy with the neatness of a seam and unpicking it all either! Now that I know the process, I’m sure that I could make another one within eight hours.

It was interesting project that kept me out of mischief (and also meant that the housework didn’t get done – ooops).

The features of the finished article that particularly impressed me were:

  1. The ‘gorget’. That’s the top bit of the quilt which is shaped so that it cups over the shoulders. It reduces the propensity of the quilt to shift off the shoulders in the night and also reduces draughts. This is an optional feature, but it seems to me that its advantage outweighs the fact that it makes the whole thing a bit more tricky to sew.
  2. The recommended sizing of the quilt is such that there’s plenty to wrap around yourself. It doesn’t simply lie over you, just touching the floor and ready to let in draughts each time you move;
  3. It has a foot-box, which again reduces the likelihood of accidentally shucking the quilt off in the night;
  4. It has a draft-stopper right around the top and down the sides. This is just an un-insulated single layer of fabric, but as its name suggests, it is designed to stop draughts getting in.

The downside is that, because of the generous design, it uses about the same amount of fabric as a sleeping bag, and because it is filled with synthetic insulation, it is heavier than an equivalent down sleeping bag.

This is where the Ray-Way theory of quilts vs. down sleeping bags comes in. I shall not reiterate that theory, but it’s there to be seen on Ray’s website (and I’m afraid that I can’t quite buy into that theory myself).

The end result of the sewing project was, however, that I have moved from my previous view of ‘quilts definitely not for me’ to ‘I’d quite happily to trial one of these' – and that is quite a leap.

I was obviously a bit bored this week, because not only did I make the quilt but I also took a few photos as I went along and spent an inordinate amount of time putting together a little slide-show sort of thing about its making:

* Actually, now I look at the latest design of Rab Topbag I see that it has a sleeve for the sleepmat, which must remove the problem of waking up cold with the insulated side under you.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Completely Off Topic Rant-ette

As days go, it was not the most successful on record.

Just after the alarm had trilled in my ear, raising me from my slumber, I glanced at the weather station next to the bed. Seven and a half degrees is not overly warm for a bedroom is it? It didn’t make me want to jump out of bed, but I couldn’t let my sister down as I had said that I would accompany her to an appointment today, so I braced myself for the cold and ran to the shower.

At 8am I was standing in an inch or two of snow waiting for the bus. It duly arrived, a few minutes later than expected, but not wildly delayed. Alas, things did not continue so well. At the time we left the village we should have been in Burton. By the time we arrived in Burton town centre, I should have been on a train, across town.

Slip sliding my way across the empty shopping centre car park, I made a faster than necessary transfer to the station (the next train being half an hour hence), purely to try to keep warm, even though my attire featured Merino wool, fleece and two pairs of socks (long johns would have been a good plan too, with all that snow hitting me).

Time was killed in the waiting room, then I groaned as I heard the announcement that my train was delayed. By missing the earlier train I was already cutting it fine.

It finally arrived and hoping that the sign on the front and those in the carriages were wrong (saying it was going to Nottingham, not Birmingham), on I got. Happily, the signs were wrong, but it went so very, verrrrrry slooooooowwwwwwly.

In the space of eight minutes around 10am there were no less than three trains leaving Brum for Wolverhampton. They would all have got me there in time to make the appointment. I missed the last one by two minutes, giving me a twenty minute wait.

A phone call was made to my sister, asking her to try to rearrange the appointment for fifteen minutes later. A text a few minutes later told me she had been successful. Big sigh of relief – I hate being late.

By good fortune, the later train was exactly on time, and in Wolves I found my sister patiently waiting for me.

We made haste in poor road conditions (noting that as we crossed the border that South Staffs had bothered with gritting, unlike Wolverhampton), and were early for the revised appointment time.

Into the building we went and asked for the appropriate people.

“Oh, the meeting has been cancelled. They couldn’t get here because of the weather.”

I glared. It had taken me over three hours to cover the 30 miles, and had cost me more money than I care to waste on unnecessary journeys – but the real annoyance was that none of the other parties had the common courtesy to phone my sister to tell her that they couldn’t make it.

Through heavy snow and covered roads, back to the train station I went, for me to make the return journey, praying that by the time I reached Burton the buses would still be running. I would have been happy to walk home, except that I was wearing entirely inappropriate trousers for such a walk, and thus was rather eager to be able to get a bus that was at least going somewhere in my direction.

The bus was running. It did omit the untreated roads (but after the scary skitey-bits experience earlier, that was a good thing), and I got home in much quicker time than the outward journey.

The temperature in the house had fallen to 7 degrees by the time I got home. A fire was lit, the heating was put into action, an oil-filled radiator was found and my down jacket was put to good use until the former three tactics had taken effect.

I think that I got home just in time. At 4.30pm I ventured outside with a measuring stick. Five inches was the answer. It continued to snow heavily for some time afterwards too, and the ongoing battle to keep the road outside clear was slowly lost.

Incidentally, as far as I’m aware the hideousness of my outbound journey was nothing to do with the snow that had by that time fallen. It was more to do with the bus meeting a dustbin cart at an unfortunate point on its route. It took the best part of ten minutes of following it slowly up the road until we were able to pass. The delay on the train was, in my experience, common for that route (I’d love to see its stats; either they are appalling, or I’m exceptionally unlucky).

So despite all of the travel doom and gloom on the news, my experience today was that the local public transport did an admirable job. It was just one of those days when other circumstances conspired against.

(And I’m still spitting about the ignorance of people that cancel meetings, even if for valid reasons, and fail to communicate that cancellation in a timely manner! Grrrrr.)