sprezzatura: (Frozen Britain)
In pursuit of a more optimistic outlook about the weather and general Januaryishness of the last couple of days, I'm trying to think of the current conditions as semifreddo rather than slushy, dark and drizzly. This attempt to put a more hopeful spin on crap things has been inspired partially by Tia, who, over the past few weeks, has bounded energetically into the role of Odie to my Garfield*, and is currently tearing around the sitting room trying to kill and eat an empty Diet Coke bottle with a frantically wagging tail and indecent enthusiasm. Leave it to her to accentuate the positive.

Even with my newly adopted cheery perspective, seeing the bright side of today is going to be a bit of a struggle. No day that begins with the notification of an overdue parking fine** is going to end well unless I get to spend the rest of it watching Sense and Sensibility, sipping hot chocolate and eating Maltesers from the comfort of my Slanket, but as the house is a tip, the washing has piled up to levels Chris Bonnington would think twice about tackling and my brother is coming to dinner tonight, I have no chance of doing that.

I realise I was in an unusually fortunate position in respect of the Big Freeze, in that I didn't have to struggle through it to work, and K's headmaster is a such old fashioned, stiff-upper-lip, jolly-good sort that when I asked him if he was likely to be closing the school at all he replied "Oh good lord no, we were only shut for a day when the building burned down, we're not going to let a bit of snow bother us!" That gave me the opportunity to make the most of it, and I'm really missing it now it's gone.

It was minus eight in York last Friday morning, and the clouds that had brought a few inches of fresh snow overnight cleared in time for a glorious frosty sunrise that made the Minster look like it had been cast in pewter. Fair enough, it was cold, but in a bright, apres-ski sort of way that invites you to swig Gluhwein and swan around in designer sunglasses, rather than the biting, bone-deep dampness that has replaced it. I reckon it must be at least ten degrees warmer today but the humidity and the wind have combined to produce the sort of penetrating chill you can still feel hours after coming back into the warm.

Most of the reasons why I love the snow are visual. It revitalises the grotty old world like a lovely new throw over a stained and battered sofa. Last week, it made a path along a disused railway track through the wasteground on the edge of a council estate look like Narnia, and turned a frozen river into a silvery Christmas ribbbon. It drifted up the sides of bridges, Tippex-ing over the graffiti and making everything look new and fresh and clean. People out walking in it smiled and wished one another good morning and stopped to chat in an almost Dickensian way. Now it's melting, the river is swollen and brown again, and the broken glass and dog shit are lying in wait under a deceptive layer of black ice. The path is resuming its usual appearance, and the figure in the distance under the lamp light is more likely to be a pervert or a solvent-sniffing teenager than Mr Tumnus. The glamour cast by the snow has worn off and the city has reverted to grim, miserable type.

As, it seems, have I, but I'll leave you with a couple of pictures, just to remind myself it really happened.

Cut, for your pleasure )

*I'm neither orange nor a cat, but I am fat, lazy and cynical and I never met a lasagne I didn't like.

**For which there was no original ticket, which means double the fine even though I was completely unaware of it. Joy
sprezzatura: (Gabriel the Toad)
Bradford may not seem the obvious choice of destination for a day out, but in the company of some of my favourite ladies, I had an excellent time there on Saturday. The main purpose of our trip was a visit to Bombay Stores, where I bought fabric to turn into two dresses for various forthcoming weddings, and the others picked up various treasures in the form of make-up and sparkly things. In need of refreshment after a busy morning's shopping, we repaired to The Love Apple for lunch and gossip and cake. The nachos were as good as ever but I was a little disappointed by the chocolate and lemon tart and by the uncharacteristic absence of cheesecake from the menu. Saturday evening was spent in The Last Drop with various locals and one exile, thinking up new and inventive ways to annoy [personal profile] vin_petrol.

Ed and I had a rather different day out yesterday, making our way to the coast along with seemingly everyone else in the county. It was the first time in about a year that we've been inspired to go that way by the sunshine to find the sun still shining when we got there, as opposed to being cold and grey everywhere east of Fylingdales. We sat on the grass and watched the sea at Sandsend, having come to the mutual realisation that while it is very nice to be near the sea, beaches, at least in this part of the world, are almost always horrible. They would be so much nicer if they were not covered in sand, or at least, if they must have sand, if the sand were More Like It Is In The Brochure. It was still a very enjoyable afternoon though, and yesterday felt like the first day of summer. I love the way the night time smells at this time of year and insisted on going to sleep with the windows and the blind open, watching the sky change colour.

So far today we have been very useful and achieve-y, and between us have already cleaned most of the house, done two loads of washing and got them out onto the line. I even cleaned the windows in the kitchen for the first time I can remember, which is a little embarrassing seeing as I've lived here for almost four years! After lunch we are going to go through the bookshelves downstairs and take all the out of date atlases and IT books to the recycling centre. This evening we will reward ourselves by going to see Star Trek.

This week is half term for K but we're not going to be seeing much of her. She has been at her father's this weekend and is spending tonight with my mum so that she can meet up with a friend from her old school tomorrow. On Wednesday Ed's dad is coming to pick her up and take her down to London for a few days, where we will be joining her on Friday. Tomorrow night is pretty much the only time we will get to spend with her so we've just booked tickets to see Seth Lakeman at Buxton Opera House. I don't know how long this Liking Parents' Music thing will last: I wouldn't have been caught dead going to a concert with my parents when I was seven, although to be fair my dad's music of choice was usually military bands or opera while my mum favoured the likes of Cliff Richard! I shall make the most of it while it lasts anyway, and hope that by the time her inevitable rebellion happens, she will be old enough to go to gigs on her own so I'll never have to take her to The Pussycat Dolls or The Jonas Brothers or whatever it is children like these days.
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