England has been proudly displaying its capacity for weather this week. And I have been alternately revelling in it and reviling it.
On Monday, I woke to vast (for the area I live in) amounts of snow. At first, I thought it would melt away by the time I was ready for work, but over breakfast I watched snow falling and swirling outside.
At 0813 hours, my boss telephoned me. Standing at my bedroom window, I gazing out at the white street and mulling about whether I could – or should – cycle to work. He informed me he had been trying to get to work since 0700 hours (weirdo) and that he was now going to turn around and go home. He asked how I was going to make my way to work and I blithely informed him I might cycle, or walk. Soon.
I and my partner made our way – on foot – through the snow-covered streets. A bus was abandoned at the end of our street. People were milling about everywhere: pegging snowballs at each other; sliding along the ice; laughing and marvelling at the snow; and building snow men. Everyone grinned at everyone else.
We were set free from work early, but already the snow was melting away from roads and pavements. Still, snow continued to fall and it flurried around my face. I know now what a flurry is: gorgeous.
On Tuesday, I expected to wake to slush. Instead, I woke to snow still on the ground and more snow falling. This was more fabulous than I could possibly imagine.
I walked to work again, but things were a little dour. The world was less crisp and the snow more dangerous. The sky was grey. The streets were quieter. The fresh snow fall lay on top of ice, so was rather slippery, but interestingly crunchy, underfoot.
At 1000 hours, I rang my boss to find out whether he was going to make it into work. In the background, I could hear his son; he had tried and failed.
On Wednesday, I expected to wake to slush. I did wake to slush, but there were still minor bits of snow about the place. I decided to cycle into work because the roads looked reasonably non-icy.
Elsewhere in England, it snowed. Where I live, the sky dumped gentle sleet. (Yes, it’s possible. I had not thought this was possible because the only sleet I had ever experienced before was on top of Mt Russell in Tasmania. That sleet was mean, horizontal and very painful, like some throwing a million needles at you. Wednesday’s sleet was not so sharp. More like slivers of soft hair whipping your face. It was okay.)
Then, it hailed; again, gently. The balls of ice were very little (and rather cute). Again, I have only experienced nasty hail – the kind that bruises heads and smashes windscreens. After the hail, came some more snow but, somehow, lacking in conviction.
At 0930 I rang my boss who was still trying to get to work. He decided to keep trying and eventually got in at about 1100. He should not have bothered.
On Thursday, I woke to rain. Lots and lots of rain. I kitted up in all my rain gear and cycled into work. By the time I got in, my cheeks were frozen (not quite literally but it sure felt like it). This was the first time the rain had been so cold. I thought, I can take this. This is fine.
Snow was but a distant memory. Strange clumps of ice and dirt were the remnants of Monday’s joyous snowmen artistry.
My workmates laughed (not cruelly) as I trudged into the office. I huddled beside my radiator to thaw out.
My boss beat me to work that morning.
On Friday, I woke to rain. Here we go again, I thought, grimacing as I pulled on my waterproof trousers.
Inexplicably, between the time of putting on my trousers and wheeling my bike outside the rain had cleared. In its stead, a wind came along. A horrid, icy head wind that made cycling rather unpleasant indeed. At least, a head wind means a tail wind home (I thought).
My boss did not come into work; he had booked the day off as annual leave.
At 1030, I watched rain, hail and snow beat up against my office window. My thoughts strayed to the trainee in my department who had, unfortunately, chosen the worst half hour to take the 20 minute round trip to court. She came back looking remarkably chipper; rosy cheeks suit her smooth, porcelain white skin.
I cycled home, in a head wind. This was the height of unfairness and I was oh-so tempted to circumvent the big hill and go home the wrong way down a one-way street. Ultimately, I decided not to (partially because I was complaining inside my head so much I forgot to not cycle my normal route home). I thought about walking my bike up the hill, but as I started climbing (it’s a roughly 30 degree grade over about 200 metres), another cyclist was pushing her bike. Enough to spur my competitive edge, I grunted and huffed and sniffed my way past her.
So ends my week of weather. Weather is predicted for the next few weeks.