Woke up to yet another white January day in London. London is well known for its fog and rain, but this white form of precipitation is a different matter altogether in modern memory. If news stories of halted traffic, flight accidents, school closings, etc. are not enough to convince you what a rare and big deal snow in London is, check out this conversation thread on Twitter for #uksnow: https://twitter.com/#search?q=%23uksnow. I just stepped away from it for less than a minute, and there were already almost 30 more tweets added when I now checked back. It fascinates me how many people have something to say about snow in the UK every split second. Fortunately, today is a relatively warmer day that is allowing snow to melt on the oft-used pavement in London, so traffic is moving and we don’t have to risk slipping on our bums on the treacherous icy sidewalks of last week. The real kicker for this American Midwest gal is that they do not use salt, but, rather, what they call “grit” (a.k.a. sand). So when you still proceed to fall on your arse, in addition to the pain (and embarrassment), you will then be covered in grit. Not to mention the fact that I most often saw grit dumped in isolated piles, so to even pretend to avoid slipping, one must leap pile to pile as though skipping across rocks in a creek. I did see coverage of a snow plow on the news last night, though, so there evidently is at least one in the United Kingdom.
[By the way, there have been over 600 new tweets on #uksnow since I finished that paragraph]
When I see this frenzy among commuters in the city and abandoned cars in the country, I would think this island has never encountered snow before. The measures taken to solve the issue and get people where they need to be safely seem terribly reactive rather than proactive. Not to diss this country I have so come to love, but it seems its own citizens are quite fed up as well. In any case, I stumbled on this article by Charlie English that gives a brief history on UK snow, highlighting the more notable instances of such weather (including the winter of 1814 when an elephant was able to cross the frozen Thames): http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/feb/03/snow-history-britain-weather. I also can’t help but giggle at this self-recognition of becoming a bit of a laughing-stock in the rest of the world: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/weather/article5650940.ece. Aw, poor Britain.
Never fear, everyone. They’ll get this stuff figured out hopefully, and in the meantime, it’s always a nice excuse to play hookey and just stay in or pop into the cozy firelit warmth of your local pub. If you’re still in need of a nice place to stay indoors and toasty, let London Relocation Ltd. help you find it.