The photo is self explanatory and is so good it might just be my 2019 Christmas card...
PERSONAL, UNDILUTED VIEWS FROM TOM WINNIFRITH
78 days ago
The photo is self explanatory and is so good it might just be my 2019 Christmas card...
79 days ago
Having started last night, as I showed here, the snow carried on till well after noon so we woke up to, perhaps, ten inches of global warming in some parts of the garden. The cat belonging to the Chav family next door went for a brief walk, as you can see below but thought better of it and is now back in our kitchen sleeping on the sofa. the little creature almost lives here now, my catnapping has worked. Joshua also enjoyed the snow.
This was his first snowball fight. I gather that snowballing is banned in many state schools on grounds of "elf 'n' safey" but Joshua, his godfather Johnny an d the Mrs and I had good fun this morning. Kids may be safer but they really don't know what they are missing out on. The Mrs and Joshua are pictured below.
79 days ago
I was woken up at 6 AM by the Mrs snoring and peeked out of the window. It was still snowing. Snowballs with Joshua thought I and my heart leapt. This was the scene last night outside our front door here in Bristol with the global warming falling fast. A weekend trip to my father is, I suspect, on hold.
185 days ago
I run these photo articles every autumn for you folks who only come to Greece in the summer and know it as a country of burnt brown grass and vegetation. Right now with autumn rains kicking in the area around the hovel is bursting into life. The patches of green are expanding rapidly and the brown is in full scale retreat. Meanwhile, everywhere, you see reds, blues, whites, purples as little flowers spring to life. It is almost alpine. All we need now is snow on the Taygetos mountains behind us. It will be here by Christmas.
399 days ago
In 2000, Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, aka arch data fabricators and global warming nutters, noted: that within a few years winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event”. “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” he said. My son Joshua is not yet 18 months old yet, even here in Bristol, he has now experienced four periods of snow, three since Christmas. The photos below show a family playing, yet again, in a road just covered with global warming.
438 days ago
Given that the world is actually getting colder, the Arctic sea ice is expanding, the word global warming was expunged from the dictionary by believers in the bogus religion some years ago. But I guess when folks think of "climate change" they still have visions of polar bears on melting ice caps, desertification, etc. So as UK temperatures plunge below zero (again) and snow - which the loons told us a in 2000 that kids would not know by now - covers much of the country (again), the believers in this religion have a problem.
Step forward nutso Green MP Caroline Lucas who has a new phrase "Climate breakdown". Breakdown sounds even more scary than change and has no associations with warming so - as we all shiver - it does not make this high priestess of this quack faith sound even more ridiculous than usual.
474 days ago
A friend who is the epitome of the remoaning metropolitan elitist emails me today to claim that "you really are becoming a fascist in your old age what with your support of Donald Trump and your climate change denial." The elitists always forget that labelling anyone with whom you disagree as a fascist demeans the true horror of what fascism is. But I suppose it is easier than actually debating facts. I shall deal with my admiration of the leader of the free world another day but let's look at some hard facts about climate change or , as it used to be known, global warming. I bring you three quotes:
The first is from 2000. David Viner who made his name at the world leading global warming (data bodging) establishment that was the University of East Anglia warned in 2000 in the Indescribably boring newspaper that because of global warming snow would soon become a “rare and exciting event”. He added: “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is.”
The UAE forecasts published in the late 1990s, replicated by other experts notably the IPCC, suggested that the world would just get hotter and hotter. That underpinned Viner's prediction. And this Group Think has formed the basis for the Paris Accord and other initiatives that will cripple Western economies in order to fight global warming. Only one world leader has dared to point out how horribly wrong the UEA forecasts ( and all the other "expert" projections) have been so far. If Viner at al cannot get their forecasts right for 20 years why should we believe their 100 year guesstimates?
Of course the only leader understanding this basic logic is Mr Donald Trump. Fools like Theresa May and all of the rest of the EU are happy to sign up to economic suicide for their own nations even though the data on which the hara kiri pledges are made is now utterly suspect.
So you understand Viner's predictions and the UAE/IPCC projections on which they are based. Now I refer you to the Guardian, the fake news publication of choice for metropolitan liberal elitists, from yesterday:
Record-breaking big freeze grips much of North America
Bone-chilling cold gripped the middle of the US as 2018 began on Monday, breaking a low temperature record, icing some New Year’s celebrations and leading to at least two deaths attributed to exposure to the elements.
The National Weather Service issued wind chill advisories covering a vast area from south Texas all the way to Canada and from Montana and Wyoming in the west through New England to the northern tip of Maine.
Dangerously low temperatures enveloped eight midwest states including parts of Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Nebraska along with nearly all of Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota.
The weather service said a temperature of 15 below zero (-9.44C) was recorded in Omaha before midnight on Sunday, breaking a record low dating back to 1884, and the temperature was still dropping early on New Year’s Day. That reading did not include the wind chill effect.
etc etc etc
But maybe that is a one off? I now refer you to Uncle Chris Booker writing in the Telegraph ten years ago:
"The winter from hell’
Over the first three months of 2008, as global temperatures continued to fall, the world endured one of its coldest winters for decades, In January, the northern hemisphere recorded its most extensive snow cover for the month since 1966 (just before those predictions that the world might be entering a ‘new ice age’). Not only were there record snow falls across North America, but countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq and several regions of China experienced more snow than they had seen for 50 or even 100 years. NOAA and the US National Climate Data Center reported that on land it had been only the 63rd warmest January globally in 114 years.
In February the chill continued. Snow was recorded in the deserts of southern Iran where no one could remember it ever falling before. Jerusalem had its second snowfall in a month. Astonished Athenians gazed up at a snow-draped Acropolis, while more than 200 villages in Greece and Crete were cut off by blizzards. In Turkey the number of villages cut off was estimated at 1,000.] Further heavy snows across southern China added to a disaster which had already damaged 10 percent of the country’s forests and devastated thousands of square miles of farmland.
As the four official sources of temperature data agreed that global temperatures had fallen below their 20th century average, even Hansen’s GISS figures showed the steepest January-to-January global temperature drop (0.75 degrees) since surface records began in 1880.
In the US in early March there were blizzards as far south as Texas and Arkansas. In the northern US states and Canada what was being called ‘the winter from hell’ continued to break records for cold and snow going back in some cases as far as 1873. In Afghanistan it was reported that the abnormal snow and freezing weather had killed 1,500 people and 200,000 animals. In Tibet six months of snow and record low temperatures had killed 500,000 animals, leaving a further three million at risk of starvation.
Meanwhile in Antarctica sea-ice cover was at its highest March level since satellite records began in 1979, nearly a third above its 30-year average. In the Arctic, where sea-ice the previous September had dropped to 3 million square kilometres, its lowest level ever recorded, prompting frenzied media predictions that it would soon be gone altogether, the winter freeze had now returned the ice to 13 million square kilometres, the same level it had been at a year earlier.
In western Greenland, the Danish Meteorological Institute recorded temperatures 30 degrees C below zero, while more ice was clogging the strait between Greenland and Canada than at any time for 15 years.
Snow falling in record amounts in winter, whatever next?. To happen once in a decade looks like an inconvenient truth. To happen twice suggests that the predictions made to support the bogus religion that is global warming by the "experts" are just plain bollocks. Here in Europe we ignore the facts, the record snowfalls, the plunging temperatures and still stuff the peasants with energy tariffs to fight global warming, we crucify heavy industry with additional costs to stop the planet getting warmer, our leaders follow this religion blindly.
Only one politician looks at the real data and is brave enough to call out global warming for the fraud that it is. That admirable and brave man is Donald Trump and the true fascists are those who try to close down debate on climate change by saying that it is a settled science when the hard data of what is falling from our skies suggests that this is simply not the case.
479 days ago
489 days ago
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way, oh what fun it is with Hitler living the Aryan way. Okay I made up the second line but it makes no difference, the original version of the festive tune is racist anyway claims mad prof Kyna Hamill from Boston university.
The problem is that when it was first performed in 1857 it was sung by white guys blacked up to look like African Americans. So "The legacy of 'Jingle Bells' is one where its blackface and racist origins have been subtly and systematically removed from its history," says Ms Hamill
That white guys used to black up and sing until the 1970s is something that used to happen but is no longer deemed acceptable. But that does not mean that those performing any given song were necessarily racist although in 1857 USA they quite possibly were. But it certainly does not make the song racist in any way.
But we all need to seek out racism and sexism and homophobia in everything these days. The academic highlight of last week came from snow clad Britain where University College London (UCL) tweeted out
Dreaming of a white campus? Our campuses will be open and operating fully today, Monday 11 December, so please make your way in as planned. (We can't guarantee snow but we'll try!)
Clearly this is a play on the song "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas" and UCL's tweet just like the song clearly references the white as being snow not a desire for racial purity. A child of three could see what UCL meant but predictably it was grovelling apologetically before long in the face of a furious new media backlash.
Kumail Jaffer, a PPE student at Warwick University demanded that UCL be made to to “retract and apologise”. He added that if anyone does not understand why the comment is offensive, they should “look into the history of the oppression of the PoC [People of Colour]”.
Kumail you are fucking stupid not because you are a PoC but because you clearly cannot read the original UCL tweet properly before gobbing off. I predict that you will go far in modern Britain, draping yourself in a state of being offended by everything.
The fact that UCL's critics were spouting obvious nonsense made no odds. It had to say sorry. Such is life in the crazy world of academia today.
495 days ago
Across the snow bound Midlands it was the same story. In Warwickshire all the fee paying schools were open but all the State schools closed. Why is that?
It is simple. Fee paying schools are businesses who know that their paying customers have a right to a service. They are also aware that too many of those customers have two working parents as a matter of necessity so steep are the fees. Those parents will have been at work on Monday despite the snow so would have been seriously inconvenienced by a school closure. Public schools are run in the interests of customers, parents and kids.
State schools drone on about "clients" ad nauseam but the reality is that they are run for the benefit of grossly overpaid and lazy teachers. Hence they have five INSET days when kids are sent home during term so teachers can keep up to speed in the latest ways of teaching transgender awareness or global warming. This deprives the kids of a week's education and inconveniences the parents.
How about holding the INSET days in the 13 weeks of annual holiday which teachers enjoy? Oh no, that would infringe on their rights. So across the Midlands state schools shut down on Monday citing, natch, Health & Safety issues and concerns about child safety. Tosh. Most roads were open and how many kids attending fee paying schools on Monday suffered any sort of H&S issue? Nil.
Snow is just another excuse for the greediest and laziest profession to have an extra day off.
496 days ago
728 days ago
Back in early December when I arrived at the Greek Hovel for the olive harvest, the Taygettos mountains behind me were already covered with thick snow which you might think a bit odd. After all we are at the Southernmost edge of Europe and Al Gore and the global warming loons were telling us twenty years ago that this area would be almost a desert by now. Well guess what?
The snow still lies thick on the higher mountains above the hovel. As I drove down from Kambos towards the nearest harbour at Kitries today I looked up and there it was as you can see in the photos below. The same global warming I saw in December is still there and it is almost May. Give that man Gore another Nobel prize.
796 days ago
I hope the picture below conveys the sheer beauty of the taygetos mountains which tower above the Greek Hovel. I caught this shot of the snow capped peaks as I headed up for a spot of olive tree pruning earlier this afternoon.
On the land next to ours the trees have been pruned aggressively with whole branches lopped off. They look naked but ready for action. I am always a touch nervous about what to hack away but armed with my trusty axe and saw below I set to work.
There are two massive advantages of pruning now. The first is that the snakes are asleep and so you just do not hear rustling in the bushes causing you to turn sharply and breathe heavily. I walk across the property with gay abandon.
The only sounds one hears are the bells and bleating of the shepherd's sheep and the sound of gunfire. For it is now the time of year when men line the roadside to blast away at little birds.
This is not for food just for the pleasure of killing little birds. Spent shotgun cartridges litter the ground everywhere. It is all so utterly mindless but I guess it is better than shooting each other which is what used to happen in days of old in the Mani when the culture of blood culture held sway.
The second advantage is that the shoots and branches one cuts back are that much smaller than they will be in May when I normally start pruning. I will prune again in the summer but I hope that this work eases that burden. And in theory, this early additional prune, will mean that more of the tree's energy will go towards productive branches so invceasing the yield. We shall see.
More important in terms of increasing my output is going to be planyting new trees on land I have purged of frigana and also splicing domesticated olive shoots onto wild olive trunks of which I have a few so that those trees come into production. Nikko the Communist (Papou) who is to assist me in that task has just wandered into lovely Eleni's Kourounis taverna hrere in Kambos and we are agreed that we will do that work in April when I come back to start rebuilding the hovel.
797 days ago
Yesterday I served up a picture of the snow capped mountains of the Northern Peloponnese to show that it is not just in the far North of Greece that global warming falls each year. I am now in the Southern Peloponnese, in fact the Mani, where the Greek Hovel is located, is the most southerly part of mainland Greece. And guess what?
Firstly the grass is a gorgeous green. Our house is half way between the village of Kambos and the mountains and it is almost alpine. Sadly it is not only the grass that has grown but also the accursed frigana, the thorn bush that is my sworn enemy. I will have to tackle it once again this summer with my strimmer.
But above the hovel lie the Taygetos mountains and as in December when I was here for the olive harvest they too are covered in snow on the higher peaks. Greece and snow are not the images most folks in Britain have in their minds. But from North to South this country sees global warming falling every year.
798 days ago
I gather from my father, Darren and the Mrs that it snowed a bit in Shipston, London and Bristol today. It was snowing in Metsovo this morning and the fields on the Anelion side of the vallet were all white. But in case you think that the snow falls only in the Northern Pindus mountains, have a butchers at this photo taken from the Northern side of the Gulf of Corinth at Patras. The bridge across the gulf is pretty spectacular but look on the other side. That is the Pelopponese.
I am now at the southern tip of the Pelopponese (and thus of mainland Greece) but it is too dark to see the Taygetos Mountains that loom over the Greek hovel. But they too will be covered in snow. More on that tomorrow.
799 days ago
I have happy memories of church in the little Vlach village of Anelion back in the 1970s. Everybody attended and was dressed smartly.Men sat in one room and women upstairs. Sadly it was locked but as it is just spitting distance from Mike's house I took a brief wander around just for old time's sake. The third photo below is the view down the valley past the big bridge to a snow capped mountain. The air is clean, the snow pristine. What more could you want?
800 days ago
It felt decidedly nippy last night as i wandered out for a light meal of calf in tomato sauce.I was struck by how the only language I heard was Greek, not Vlach, But also how the waiter spoke English. Forty years ago more or less no-one here in Metsovo did. The other big change was the women.
Forty years ago the monstrous regiment stayed at home while the men sat around eating and drinking. Yet in the restaurant there were mixed tables with women talking loudly and letting their views be heard. Political correctness gone mad. I digress.
It was very nippy indeed as I walked back to my hotel and the rain was biting as if it waned to turn into something else. I awake now to see a good covering of snow and it is still snowing as you can see below.
I must still walk to Anelion to see if Mike the Vlach is alive. The walk, I established last night, takes 30 minutes and is part of the local Ursa walks. Yes Ursa does mean Ursa and I asked if there are any bears in these parts. I was told no but I am a bit "frit". So do I walk on an old snow covered path or risk a taxi in the snow? I shall ponder over breakfast.
For what it is worth, the view to a snow covered Anelion looks like this!
801 days ago
Whenever I say to folks that I am off to Greece they always say "lucky you the weather will be so much nicer than in the UK". Au contraire. True, when I got to Athens airport at 4 AM (2 AM GMT) it was a balmy 9 degrees. I was so hot that i removed oone of my four layers of clothing. But as I headed North things started to change.
There was clearly snow on the mountains north of the bay of Corinth where poor Great Uncle David Cochrane fell to his death. And as we arrived at Arta I could see snow on the mountains above the plane.
When Uncle Chris called as I sat waiting at Ioannina for a change of bus, I had to explain to him about the Bridge at Arta. Poor form Mr Booker, it is famous and you call yourself a Hellenophile? Regular readers will know all about it and the emuring of the builder's daughter from this photo article here. I called the Mrs to remind her of the lunch we ate that sunny day by the bridge a few years ago when she was known as the Deluded Lefty not the Mrs.
At Ioannina there was snow on all the surrounding mountains as you can see in the photo below.
In Metsovo there is a bit of snow on the ground but not a lot as you can see.
But on the other side of the valley in the village of Anelion (without sun) where I head tomorrow there is quite a bit of snow and the fog is closing in as I hope this final photo makes clear.
In my bearcast today HERE I recount how my father was in a bus near Metsovo and the snow was so deep that it covered the poles. Did it carry on? Of course it did. My father insisted in his best Greek, Vlach and German.
828 days ago
If you are preparing for a five hour journey to work along snow covered roads or your pipes have just burst you may think that I am talking utter rubbish. But the lack of snow here in Bristol is really starting to annoy me.
Over in Greece there is lots of the white stuff on the mountains above the Greek Hovel and in fact far lower down as well. The Express tells us on a daily basis that Britain is braced for a deluge of global warming. Channel 4 News last night reported - with a straight face - about the threat of global warming ( as in the world getting hotter) but 24 hours earlier was reporting about how unseasonally cold weather ( and snow) across South East Europe and Turkey was hitting poor refugees. That, of course, was climate change.
But while the North is blanketed, here in Bristol we see almost nothing. I realise that I am a bit old to be building a snowman but as I talk to my daughter I share the excitement of what that might entail and exchanging a few snowballs with the Mrs is always fun. Above all I'd love Joshua to see snow for the first time.
So, reverting to childhood: where is the snow? It is so unfair!!!!
871 days ago
I noted yesterday that the rain clouds were so thick that from the Kalamata sea front I could not see the start of the taygetus mountain range which winds its way down the Mani peninsula. Later in the day as I drove east towards the mountains the cloud had lifted and I could see clearly that there was already a good covering of global warming directly ahead of me in the higher reaches. It got better.
The Greek hovel lies in the lower reaches of the mountains up from the village of Kambos which is itself pretty high up. As you can see the view from the hovel is of snow clad mountains. I sense that it has fallen earlier this year and in greater quantities which is, of course, all down to global warming.
Up in Kambos there was a definite chill in the air and everyone was wrapped up warm.
I should say that today in Kalamata the sun shines, I have seen a few brave souls swimming in the sea and I am wearing a T-shirt and feel quite warm. But up in the mountains the snow is not melting - the dry river in between Kambos and the Hovel is still dry. The snow in the mountains merely waits for more to fall.
882 days ago
In this week's postcard I look at how the liberal elite of the 1% behave like fascists at a performance of the crap uber-PC musical Hamilton in New York while in Ohio Trump voters get snowed on heavily. Oh the global warming irony. But those without jobs will not be laughing at the folly of the liberal elite on this matter.
1183 days ago
My daughter's American godmother happily told me in New York just before New Year that there is no snow in the City any more as a result of global warming. That night it snowed outside our door in Brooklyn. Tomorrow the godmother is set to fly back to JFK from a three week trip to Venice. Sadly for her....
One of the worst snowstorms in living memory continues to see the global warming pile up several feet thick across the East Coast. Hundreds of flights due to land from Europe are being delayed or cancelled. So how does a believer in the bogus religion of global warming spin this little problem with her travel plans?
It's climate change stupid! Natch. The climate has changed so that it now snows in winter. Time for another lecture from Saint Bono and Al Gore...why am I so dumb?
1207 days ago
It has been a warm December here in New York and the global warming nutters are having a field day. As you may be aware, New Yorkers think that the Big Apple is the centre of the Universe and that the flyover states, being populated by God fearing, gun owning, law abiding , hard working Republicans, can be ignored completely. So we can all ignore the deep snows and floods in Texas, the planet is heating up becuase New York is warmer than normal.
The local weather reprt on CBS News just told me that we have enjoyed the warmest ever December in New York. Hmmm..warmer than the Medieval warm period? warmer than, say, 1500 BC? How does CBS know? Of course what CBS means is "since records began". There were some readings taken here from 1836 but modern records really only begin an a scientific fashion in 1869. So the "warmest ever" claim is just a little bit spurious. But dont let facts get in the way of the global warming nutters.
It was two days ago that I was discussing the UK floods with my daughter's god-mother who is, as a deluded lefty, a global warming nutter. Not letting the facts stop her, she put it all down to one thing: global warming, I mean climate change. I showed her photos of British cities flooded in 1912 and recounted how we were almost flooded out in Northants in 1970 something but to no avail. She pointed out that it always used to snow in New York City in December but had not this year.
Of course there was no snow in December 1877 and the records show many other years with almost no or zero snow at the Central Park weather station. But again why let the facts get in the way as you pay homage to the bogus religion.
And as ever, the Good Lord, showed his sense of humour. For that very night I was able to peer out of the window with my daughter and enjoy the first snows she has seen this year. Okay, just a light dusting of global warming but unmistakaenly global warming none the less.
1217 days ago
For most of my early December stay in Greece I was wearing a T-shirt all day although at night I needed a sweat shirt and coat as the temperatures plunged towards zero. But on the penultimate day it started to rain heavily both in Kalamata, where I was staying, and up in the village of Kambos in the foothills of the Taegessus Mountains. The photos below show what happened next.
Photo one is of an orange tree just off the main street in Kambos. As we worked in the fields picking olives in quite warm weather oranges were handed out by my friend George. They are just ripening for picking now.
The next two photos are from the Greek Hovel another 50 metres or so higher up into the Teagessus and three miles away from Kambos. Those who have seen the hovel in the summer will associate it with grass burned brown by hot sun. But, as you can see, it is now a lush green - this is the view looking back along the drive. The rains of October and November have left the place looking very much alive. The second photo shows a front lawn strewn with olive branches post harvest. Come February I shall return to burn them off.
But now look up into the mountains, into the Taegessus. What fell as rain in Kambos fell as snow higher up. Those peaks will remain snow covered until March or even into April.
Elsewhere in Greece in places such as Metsovo in the Pindus or in Pelion folks go skiing. I described driving through the snow in between Athens and the Mani in the snow last Febuary. But the Taegessus are wild and rugged. There will be no skiing.
My Uncle Chris (Booker) who turns 79 next year says that we must climb these mountains together. In the summer that means incredible heat and snakes. From now until April that means treacherous snow. I think, dear Uncle that it must be October. The heat will have lessened but it will still be warm anough. The snakes will be asleep. And there will be no snow.
1514 days ago
I shall try to drive up to the snow covered peaks of the high Taygetus at the weekend. For now I just gaze up at them from the Greek Hovel. While we enjoy bouts of heavy rain and intermittent sunshine in the foothills of the Taygetus the high peaks are covered in snow.
The first photo is from the Greek Hovel itself and the far peaks are a bit covered in cloud but you can just make out the snow.
The second two shots are taken from the back of Kambos village near the main Church ( we have three) and give a rather better view of what lies ahead on my weekend field trip. I very rarely snows in Kambos itself. The only effect of that snow is that when it finally melts the dry river will stop being a stream as it is now but will be a gushing little river, if only for a few days.
1521 days ago
In my snowcast earlier I described my journey today to the Greek hovel. At Athens airport there were small flakes of snow but as I drove up into the mountains of the Peloponnese the snow thickened. The short video below was shot at 6 AM my time (four yours) in the dark of a service station 10 miles shy of Tripoli and only 60 miles North of Kalamata where I crashed into a hotel bed at 7.30 AM my time.
When I woke the scene below is from my window. It was cold but sunny and I worked with the window open. It was chilly enough to keep me awake but not too cold.
But as darkness fell it started getting colder. There is a howling wind and it s now just about 0 degrees outside. Up in Kambos it is a three degrees colder as it is half way to the Taygetus mountains. The sun set over the other side of the gulf is pretty spectacular.
1522 days ago
Shame on Paul Scott and other folks for thinking Greece was hot in winter. It is freezing. In this podcast I cover the actuality of snowfall in Greece and a few stories of my father, my Great Uncle David Cochrane and my own travels - including today's trek from Athens to the Greek Hovel - in Greece.
The map below might assist you in following what I am talking about.
1542 days ago
I was chatting to a chap in the grim North today. Snow was falling and he said that at 7 AM this morning with less than an inch of global warming on the ground the kids had been texted: School is closed. We reflected how life had changed.
Even during the winter of 1979, I cannot remember Warwick School for Boys shutting down. When we are at the junior school snow meant that Headmaster Jack Marshall would allow us to wear long trousers rather than our normal shorts. It could have been minus 5 but if there was no snow, it was shorts as normal for the younger boys.
If the rugby pitches were covered in snow we played anyway. Snow is soft. When snow turned to ice it was a freezing cross country run instead. Boy did I hate that.
The point is that the school never closed. And snow meant snowballs which is not quite the harmless game it sounds. The sixth form would amass on the centre of a rugby pitch and the rest of the school would advance from a car park to throw snow balls. And then in snatch parties, as in the army, the brutes would rush out and try to catch an advancing “nipper” who would promptly find himself having snow shoved up his shirt and down his trousers, returning to his comrades a bedraggled mess.
It was a brutal game a bit like a winter version of British Bulldog a game which is I am sure now banned for being both racist and also a clear breach of Health and Safety rules. But it was a game everyone always looked forward to.
Just occasionally snow would mean that some of us got a day off. We lived in a little village called Harbury and to get down to Warwick (15 minutes full pelt downhill in the summer on a bicycle) could be dangerous at the height of winter. So just occasionally those boys living in Harbury (myself, Bunting M, Ellis D, Millington S, Smith G and Garman J – how on earth do I remember this nonsense) would not be able to get to go to school. That meant a day sledging down Ufton Hill.
I compare these vague memories of childhood with today. If there is a couple of millimetres of snow The Mrs gets a text from her University saying that she has the day off, the Schools are all closed and education stops. I might sound like a grumpy old man but surely are we not just a bunch of Jessies these days?
1555 days ago
Back in Bristol and the cats are in disgrace for weeing on the doormat and the temperature is minus something. The Mrs is not sympathetic and I am back in the garage at my desk wearing a thick coat, hugging my heater and still freezing. I suggested to the Mrs that the cats be forced to join me as punishment but she said that would be cruel. And so I suffer alone.
At the tobacconists the Daily Express warns of snowfall across the country and of freezing conditions. I point this out to the Mrs on my return but she thinks this is just right wing propaganda and I must continue to work in the garage.
The Daily Telegraph warns its readers who are elderly (i.e. nearly all of them) to wrap up warm. Up in Shipston in Warwickshire my deluded lefty step mother does not allow the Telegraph in the house and so my father must enjoy it only as a secret pleasure at the White Bear. The paper of choice for my step mother is, needless to say, the Guardian and so she is still preparing for global warming.
In case my father has not made it to the pub yet I have called him urging him to switch the heating on. The normal pattern is that it is not switched on – in order to fight global warming – with my parents trousering the non means tested winter fuel allowance to pay for another luxury cruise which of course does not cause global warming as a dose of warm air in Sheep Street Shipston would.
Not being utterly convinced about this global warming business and noting that there is already snow on the hills, the old man agrees that it might be prudent to turn up the heating a bit. As I tap away in the garage, while the urinating cats are rewarded for bad behaviour by being allowed to lie on the bed with the Mrs in a nice warm house, I think that I am somehow getting a bit of a raw deal.
1903 days ago
Saturday night in Shipston with my father and step mother entails a trip to Moreton-in-Marsh train station. It is a non-descript station in a pretty little Cotswold town. I have happy memories of arriving there around this time last year with snow so deep that there was no way to get to Shipston. Thankfully there was room at the (Bell) Inn and a landlord prepared to wait up for my delayed train.
This time there were no such snags but, since he could not be late for Church, my father dropped me off thirty minutes before the departure of the 10.11 to Oxford. All rooms at the station were locked so it was a chilly half an hour. The only thing of note at this station is that the signs for taxis, buses, toilets etc are in both English and a language which is, I think, Chinese but may be Japanese.
This seems harmless enough but I wonder of any local person might explain to me why there is such a pressing need for signs in Chinese or Japanese or whatever it is? Is there a big hidden demographic I have missed or something about the local economy of which I am utterly ignorant? I see the signs as a harmless eccentric and am just curious to know the reasoning behind them.
2260 days ago
Every time I come here it seems to snow. My deluded lefty step mother, who ticked me off earlier today for referring to global warming as opposed to climate change, is now safely in bed. The cat & I have thus switched the heating on full blast as an inch of global warming, oops, sorry 2.54 centimetres of climate change has now fallen. Needless to say I am travelling back to London tomorrow and so expect wholesale travel chaos. I feel cursed.
2284 days ago
My normal Friday sees me taking a very late train out to the West of England from Paddington. The 11.30 from Paddington sounds like an Agatha Christie but the novel that springs to mind as I contemplate today’s trip is Murder on the Orient express, when the train gets trapped in the snow half way across Yugoslavia.
Of course we will not see 10 foot snowdrifts in Southern England but it only needs a few inches of global warming to fall and Network Rail throws in the towel. I wonder what is the worst case scenario? To be told at Paddington that there are no trains and to be stranded in the capital? That would be bad enough. The trains are quite warm so getting stuck in a snowdrift would be acceptable. I think my real nightmare is the train stopping at either Didcot or Swindon at 1 AM. Neither station is warm and both are grim.
At least Swindon produced the delightful Melinda Messenger (who is now 41, can you believe it?) and (only until May I pray) is home to Paulo di Canio. None the less a night in its station waiting room is not a prospect I’d relish.
Overall today’s travel fills me with dread.
2328 days ago
Yup I know it is December so not really a shock (unless you are a total global warming nutter). And I know that it is a bit childish but there is always an excitement in seeing the first snow of the winter. It only becomes a pain later. And so at 3.30 AM as I work on a new book idea I look out of the window and there are huge snowflakes falling on Shipston-on-Stour.
I am again at my father’s house sorting out a few things. It is only about half an hour from the village in which I grew up. Snow lay thick on the ground and roads when I had my first driving lessons 27 years and eleven month ago with Mr Ceney. That was fun. A few years earlier snow meant a day off school if you lived in our village. Harbury was at the top of a steep hill and so it was sometimes too dangerous to try to drive down that hill towards Warwick. Yippeee off to Ufton Hill to sleigh down on a plastic bag.
And now the snowflakes are falling harder. The child in me wants them to settle. Step sister Flea’s very young daughters are staying the night and I know they’d love to throw a few snowballs at Grandpa tomorrow morning. Heck, so would I. The adult in me knows that I have to drive the Old Man into Warwick tomorrow and I am not sure I really fancy doing it on snow covered roads. I am torn.