Not quite the snowpocalypse they were predicting

Yesterday we were supposed to get a snowpocalypse.

I left work at lunch to spend the afternoon working from home. It’s a good thing that I did because the snow and winds were just picking up as I left and by the time everyone was trying to come home, it was a nightmare out there.

Thing is, the worst of it died down much earlier than expected and it was rain-snow mix stuff at my place from around 5pm. It still made a mess, but nothing like as bad as expected.

I still lost power for the evening, though. Unfortunately before I’d cooked the pizza that was going to be my special treat last night and it was pretty late when the power came back. Damn you, NSP!

*shakes tiny fist*

This morning things are slippery and horrid outside. My driveway has been cleared a bit (not by my) but not well and the snow is coming down sufficiently to make me nervous.

I have also been banned from snow shovelling. As my back kept me awake most of the night, I’m not going to argue with that. Hopefully I can get my cousin out later today to do something about my drive. If he’s not around, I’ll see which friend can lend me their husband.

I’m very much hoping to be cleared out and have good roads tonight so that I can get to knit nigh, but if I’m not then an evening with pizza and DVDs wouldn’t be bad either.

This winter is going to involve a lot of me going nowhere if I’m banned from snow shovelling for long. Argh.

I smell spiced ham!

So, yesterday Mum and I made our Arctic trek down to the shops half a mile away for milk. It took us a long time because the sidewalks were so dreadful.

We got home and were discussing the fact that we’d need to do some shopping before Christmas. Dad asked whether we *really* had to and we started listing all the things we’d run out of. As a lot of them were things that Dad likes to eat, he concluded that we needed to go shopping RIGHT NOW OMG. Before the roads freeze, or something.

Mum and I had planned to go today, but as he was actually volunteering to drive somewhere we decided to take advantage.

Um. Scariest. Drive. Ever.

There was a car ahead of us where the occupants were obviously taking pictures. They would stop every now and again to take photos. They stopped just around corners so that we could not see they were stopped until we were almost on them (not the kind of roads you want to do emergency stops on). They stopped at the top of a small rise so that we had to stop on the rise. Our wheels spun for a moment as we attempted to pull away. Yikes.

It was pretty, but not the weather for that kind of stuff. The store was packed and we saw a couple of people collecting deliveries that the store had obviously managed to pack but couldn’t get anywhere. Mum decided that she was glad that she hadn’t tried for a delivery! We got everything in record time, packed up the car and then proceeded home. Slightly less scary (due to lack of photographers) but still not an experience to be repeated regularly.

We spent the rest of the evening at home, recovering while watching trashy TV and drinking tea. Today has largely been about relaxation as well. A cafe has opened in what used to be one of the banks in my village so Mum and I decided to walk up there this morning to buy a paper at the newsagent (I’ve missed The Independent and Private Eye) and get some coffee at the cafe. Then we started working on Christmas lunch: the stuffing is ready and the spiced ham just finished baking. Yummy.

Now I think that I’ll curl up with knitting and Spooks for the evening. It’s Christmas Eve tomorrow!

Snowed in!

I’m going right off snow right now.

Today was my big trip up north to visit historyterry. I’ve been looking forward to it ever since I decided to come to England for Christmas. I’d treated myself to a First Class return (it wasn’t that much of a splurge, only an extra 15 quid, but it was going to be lovely) and we had plans for exploring and eating and generally making merry.

Then it snowed.

As I recounted yesterday, it snowed rather more than expected. I was watching the local news last night and apparently my little corner of the county was the worst hit. Yay? The town lies in a valley so the only way to get in or out is over some very big, steep hills. My village is on top of one of those hills. Our bus last night made it up the hill, just about, but it looks like it was one of the last. All the roads out of town were impassable by 5pm and they had to set up emergency shelters for all the people stranded.

Undeterred, I still planned to go up to Manchester. Dad and I made plans for me to catch a nice, early train. We decided to set out with more than enough time for even the worst roads. I got up bright and early, pressie for Terry packed and my knitting sorted.

Dad checked the trains and discovered that the train we were aiming for had been cancelled. Never fear! We were ready so blisteringly early that we could hop out and be there for the earlier train.

Er.

Six inches. No shovels (apart from a garden spade). A dustpan. A broom. Three adults.

Yes, we really have been reduced to using a dustpan to dig out.

Despite all that and our best attempts, we could not get enough of the big drift behind the car carved away to allow us out. At one point, Dad and I were in the car with the wheels spinning, half way into the road and unable to get forwards or backwards. Getting six miles down the road to the train station? Not happening.

My train to Manchester is probably running. I just can’t get to it. And it’s a non-refundable ticket.

I’m feeling pretty disappointed and upset right now 😦

At least I’m not stranded in London?

Mum and Dad are out there right now trying to get some of the worst of it cleared. They sent me in because there are simply not enough implements for three people to be clearing. We really need snow shovels! We’re starting to run low on a lot of things food-wise and Mum is hoping to be able to get to a store later. Dad and I just laughed at that idea. She’s starting to worry that Christmas lunch might be a bit lacking in the, er, lunch department.

I think the best we’ll manage to today is a trek up to the petrol station to buy some milk. I can’t believe that we’ve had over a foot of snow in less than a week!

Dreaming spires

Before the snowpocalypse, Mum and I made plans to have our traditional Christmas shopping trip to Oxford. We booked tickets on the National Express coach and thought happily of dreaming spires, Blackwells and pretty streets where we could finish off the odds and ends of our shopping.

Then the snow hit and we started to feel a tad concerned.

This morning we got up bright and early so that we could get a bus that would get us to town insanely early for our coach to Oxford. We bundled up (thank goodness I brought my snow boots), grabbed the walking poles and tramped down to the bus stop to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Forty minutes later, a bus finally arrived. We were just a bit cold.

The bus took another half hour to get to town and we were feeling concerned that our coach would have already gone. No fear! The guy trying to repair the NE coach going in the other direction (to Standstead) assured us that the Oxford bus hadn’t arrive yet and he’d been there since 8am with a frozen bus. Er, not that reassuring really.

The doors for the bus station had frozen open and it actually managed to be colder there than up in the village. Thankfully our coach arrive half an hour later, just as we were debating how long it was practical to wait bearing in mind that our coach home would be leaving at 2.15pm. It took the entire trip before we regained feeling in our toes.

The contrast between home and Oxford was amazing. No snow! Warmer! My big job was finding a present for my father. Someone at his work had gone onto his Amazon wishlist, seen what he wanted and then bought the presents elsewhere. Note to people: never do this. Seriously. They bought the only two things on his wishlist and I now have to send my original presents back because they’re duplicates.

Thus I needed to find something. Anything. Something that he might like. He had no ideas. HMV in Oxford has a very good DVD section, though, and I’ve picked up two things that I’m 99% certain he’ll love. Phew!

People, be very good about how you use peoples’ wishlists. Buying elsewhere really screws things up for other purchasers.

Anyway, Mum and I did a few other bits and bobs and had some lunch. I took some pictures, spent a few minutes in Blackwells (not long enough, but several days wouldn’t be long enough) and generally soaked up the Oxford-ish atmosphere before we headed off to find our coach home. It was only a couple of minutes late so we were quite pleased.

I dozed off for a few minutes on the coach. When I went to sleep, we were driving through rolling green countryside. When I woke up, we were back in a winter wonderland and it was foggy. Then the snow started as we drove through one of the outlying villages. As we approached the bus station, the driver got a call on his speaker phone advising him to change his route because the next town was completely snowed in.

Er. Yeah.

England in the snow isn’t the easiest place to get around. It was hard enough finding a bus this morning, we were a little concerned this evening. Several buses came down to town going in the wrong direction. Buses going to our village proved to be thin on the ground. Eventually one appeared and we joined the masses trying to get onto it. Thankfully everyone squashed on – someone told us that three previous buses simply never appeared and that was why this one was so packed. Between all the people and all their shopping, it was tight but we did it. And at least it was warm.

The snow got worse as we went. Mum and I were both really pleased when the bus finally got to the top of the big, steep hill outside town: if it broke down, at least it would only be two miles of relative flat to walk home! Not that we wanted to walk home through the snow that was now coming down pretty thick, but we wanted to walk up that hill in it even less!

Thankfully the bus made it to the village and we wished everyone a happy Christmas (and good luck!) as we got out. Our walking poles were very much needed because a couple of inches had already settled on top of the old snow. It was so nice to get home. Dad had been calling our mobiles because he was worried and he kindly made us cups of tea…while we put the paper stuff out for the recycling collection tomorrow. We’re both a little unsure of whether they’ll find it under the snow…

Theoretically I’m going up to Manchester tomorrow. I’ll have to call the inquiries line tomorrow morning to find out whether the train is running and see what lines are open between here and London. This travelling concept is proving interesting.

I think that I’ll spend the evening working on a cowl and watching TV in my nice warm house.

Sunday must mean more snow…

Well, only another inch or snow and it was the light powdery stuff that fell. Nothing is expected tomorrow so my shopping trip to Oxford may now happen. That’s good because I have to buy my Dad another present – someone at his workplace bought things from his Amazon wishlist but not at Amazon! So I’ve duplicated, damn. He’s got no ideas (grrr) so it’s time to get creative.

The roads are pretty nasty in places. Sadly, they’re particularly bad up near my church and the church is too far to walk. So Mum and I aren’t going to our carol concert, instead we’re going to the church up the road for a “Hogroast and Carols”, whatever that is. Sounds kind of weird. But we want carols, damnit, even if I seem to be getting my cold back so my throat is kinda scratchy. It’ll be fine when it’s limbered up a bit with a good, rousing “Oh Come All Ye Faithful”.

I am so glad that I brought my snow boots with me. They’re definitely needed.

I’m doing a Flickr photoset of my trip and you can see the first few pictures here.

A taster:

England19122009_55

I’m appreciating Canadian snow-clearing so much right now

I’m in England! Ra ra!

Mum was not exaggerating about the snow. Wow. The last time I saw this much was in February 2007 and it melted a day later (photos here. This much snow before Christmas is almost unheard of. The clearance is about what I expected (none) and even the motorway had a bit of slush on it. My road is packed snow. The pavements (sidewalks) are choked. Mum didn’t take much convincing to use her walking poles whenever she goes out to make sure that she doesn’t fall.

I’m so pleased to get here, though. Boston was heaving. I assumed that it was just because it was Friday, the last weekend before Christmas, and only found out after I was waiting at my gate about the storm going through the Eastern USA. They were already announcing that Reagan and Dulles were closing at midnight so I understand now why several people were panicking about Washington flights. I think Boston was scheduled to close some time this morning. I’m so glad that I decided to fly yesterday rather than today (it was an option) because I probably wouldn’t have got there.

No wonder the Customs guy in Halifax wanted to know what I’d do if I got stuck in Boston airport πŸ™‚

Logan is fun to fly into. I had no idea that it was so close to the ocean – the runway starts practically on the shore. We made a different approach to Heathrow, which was fun because we went over one of the large London parks and a large stadium that I suspect might be Twickenham. Hee.

It feels both weird and lovely to be at home with the family. My sister came in for a flying visit so we decorated the tree and now I’m just sitting on the familiar old sofa, waiting for Strictly Come Dancing. Mum is promising me award-winning sausages for supper. I’ve missed really good sausages.

I’ll post some photos tomorrow. The neighbours are building an igloo on the green area in front of my house and it looks amazing. We’re promised more snow tonight, but Monday should be clear so Mum and I are hopeful of getting our trip to Oxford. I need to buy Dad a pressie!

I feel really bad for all the people stuck in the Channel Tunnel. South-east England doesn’t normally need ploughs etc, so it’s understandable that things are bad here. The Tunnel problems sound like they could have been prevented. Grr.

And now to watch dancing and eat fine food. This Christmas is going to be fantastic!

Some knitting related thoughts

Eeep! It’s snowing! It’s probably going to get washed away by morning, but we’re looking pretty nasty out there right now. Also, teh Interwebz ate my LJ comments, so I got a bit of a surprise when I looked at my message box a couple of minutes ago. Anyway…

It is a little over two weeks until Christmas, and the yarn I ordered for making a couple of presents has only just arrived. Good thing I chose quite small projects, but I may still be working hard to finish on time. Must remember to pack my blocking T pins – there’s no way these will be done before I leave and blocking does help the lace to pop.

I cast on for a new pair of socks on Saturday. They’re quite exciting, to me, anyway. Firstly, it’s my first time using Malabrigo Sock and I’m in love. Seriously, this stuff is gorgeous. I’m already thinking seriously about using it in a sweater, it’s that soft and lovely.

Secondly, I’m adapting a cuff-down pattern to use my favourite toe-up construction. The main detail is a lace panel going up the side of the foot, so it’s slightly more complex to work than my usual plain socks. I ended up going from the top left corner of the lace chart rather than the bottom right and hoping for the best. Last night I finished the heel on the first one, so I just have the leg to work and I was able to try it on to see exactly how well it fitted.

I had a good feeling from previous tries, but it was still nice to have confirmation that they’re a perfect fit. My purple stripy socks from a couple of months ago are also a beautiful fit so this is reassurance that they were not a fluke. I can indeed, finally, knit socks that fit my feet just right. As the lace on these ones could have made them a slightly looser fit, I’m doubly happy to have them right. Most importantly, the length is nice and snug (without squishing) so shoes will fit over them without issue, unlike my first couple of pairs!

My current projects are also teaching me that while I love Mal Sock, I’m not so keen on Worsted. It’s nice, it’s soft, and the colours are gorgeous, but I’m glad that I only bought one skein as a trial to make a hat rather than diving in with a sweater. It’s not a plied yarn – it’s one thick strand that feels more felted than anything else. Rather like the Mal Silky, in face, but without the gloss of the silky so I’m finding it harder to work. I think that it would be a nightmare to frog and I can see just from the nature of the single ply that this is a yarn that will have issues with growing over time.

I’m going to love the hat I’m making, but I may not be using the Worsted for anything bigger.

The Sock, though, would make a gorgeous cowl necked sweater. In fact, it would make the beautiful cowl necked sweater that I love from Knit So Fine which [info]gmul gave me for my birthday. I’ve already got my eye on a colour way. Hmm…

Plotting and planning new projects is almost as fun as knitting them!

I must be insane

Today I drove to work. I must be insane.

This would be due to the snow (that is not *light* snow, damn it!), the blowing snow and the distinct lack of ploughing everywhere.

I thought the lack of ploughing was just where I lived, but the main roads were actually worse and I am trying to shut the highway out of my memory. And they wondered why half the highways are gridlocked this morning? In fact, the only evidence of a plough was where the plough did my side of my road sometime before 9.30pm last night and chucked several very large chunks of frozen slush onto the end of the drive.

Those chunks were way too large to drive over, so I had to shift them by hand this morning and they were very heavy. I also did a bit of clearance around and behind the car to make it easier to get around while I cleared the car off, although I didn’t clear the entire drive. Just didn’t have the energy or the strength in my shoulder.

Apparently it’s going to turn to either rain or freezing rain for my drive home. It’s going to be so much fun!

My plan to drive over to the bank to deposit a cheque this evening has been put on hold because the weather is just too nasty.

Also, apparently I do not own the pork chops that I thought I owned so supper tonight has had to be changed. Drat. And Annie was being her baddest possible this morning, so breakfast was repeatedly interrupted to pull her out of things and one time she snuck around and tried to eat my breakfast while I picked up the soil she’d pulled out of the flower pot. I resorted to locking her into the craft room just to get the peace to finish brekkie and make lunch. Plus I was late due to all the shovelling and the dreadful driving conditions, so I’ll have to work through lunch if I don’t want to be staying late tonight. Bugger.

Can I get a do-over on today? With less snow?

Snow bad, knitting pretty

Despite being after March 21st now, the sky had the audacity to produce sufficient white stuff overnight that I had to shovel this morning.

Shovel. In late March. Blech. I would have left it to melt as the temps are going up a lot later this week, but the plough kindly dumped a mass of frozen yuck at the end of the drive that my car couldn’t climb and the snow had drifted a foot high around my car, leaving the rest of the drive largely naked. It’s out to get me. Grr.

Still, I was only fifteen minutes late to work and I would have been on time if there hadn’t been a car broken down on the highway. I feel good about that.

Last night I had a lace-knitting nightmare. Took me an hour to do four rows and I’ve still got a mistake that I need to find tonight before going on. I think that I’m starting to get lost in yarn overs. Anyone got good suggestions for how not to do this? I’m either ending up with one too many stitches (implying that I’ve not knitted together sufficient stitches) or on the current row one too few stitches (implying that I’ve missed a yarn over), yet when I take it back and re-knit I always end up with the same number of stitches. I suspect that it’s time to break out the stitch markers.

This time I’m cheating, though. I’m missing a knit 2 together and hoping that I don’t make any more mistakes to upset the pattern. I now see why so many people struggle with lace.

The tunic that I’m knitting is so far going very well, largely because it’s 63cm of moss stitch to the arm holes. Hard to mess up moss stitch, really. But I’ve got sock itch. I keep remembering that I’ve not made my Crazy Monkeys yet and I have lovely, amazingly soft Knit Picks yarn in the stash that I want to feel on my feet. Damn the sock addiction. It doesn’t help that the convention socks (mmm, Trekking…) are incredibly soft after two washes and a little lighter (thus more wearable when it’s not 20 below) than my first socks so now I want more soft, knitted loveliness decorating my feet.

I’m waiting for a colleague to do a Tim’s run and bring me my medium double cream. The caffeine is needed. Been a very busy morning.

So it’s not spring yet, then?

Yesterday was a gorgeous, beautiful day. It was warm and sunny, everything was melting and it felt like spring was on its way. My snow banks by the drive were almost gone by evening! The entire neighbourhood suddenly revealed its (rather brown) grassy lawns and there were people out everywhere enjoying the day.

I took the ferry over the harbour to the farmer’s market and had a lovely morning. I’ve got lovely veggies that were much nicer than the crap in superstore and eggs in manageable quantities. After that I nipped into the library where the librarian told me that from the end of the month all DVDs will be 7 day loan rather than 3, making it much more likely that I’ll be able to borrow DVDs from the library. Hooray! Then it was back to pick up the car and pop into the store and bulk barn for the rest of my groceries.

Sounds kind of boring on paper, but it was a lovely day and I just enjoyed the release from winter.

That’s why looking out at snow this morning was a wee bit disheartening. Gah. I am assured that it will clear off by late afternoon and possibly turn to rain, but I’m still looking at snow again. As the forecasters didn’t know this was coming – even last night! – I’m not sure that I trust their opinions on what it will do. Hey, ho, at least it’s starting to look like spring sometimes anyway.

I had my aunt over for supper last night and she stayed over, which was lovely. Didn’t cook anything fancy (hamburger rice – simple, cheap, tasty) but I did maker her butterscotch Angel Delight with crushed Flake for dessert. Yummy πŸ™‚ We got to talk to my Mum last night as well because it was her birthday. That was really lovely.

The clocks have gone forward last night so for three weeks I’ll only be 3 hours different to England rather than 4. That should make coordinating phone calls a little easier!

In knitting news, I finished my second convention sock! Something slightly odd happened when I was knitting the leg and I can only assume that I wasn’t counting rows accurately. I ended up taking it back several rows to match the first and my ten rows of ribbing look slightly wider than the first one as well. They look fine on the foot, though, and I assume that is my error somewhere πŸ™‚

With those off the needles and a break from my sister’s blanket, I’ve cast on two other things. The first is a really simple stocking stitch hat in bright emerald Rowan Cocoon (80% merino, 20% kid mohair so it’s super soft) that was going to be a knit night project but will probably be finished by Thursday because it’s so easy and quick. I love the pattern.

The second is my first knitted lace project. I cast on Friday initially, did an inch and a half and realised that I’d messed up the pattern somewhere so I bound off and put it aside. The pattern is called Daisy Meadow Shawl and I did enough to see the principle of how the daisies are formed. Today I cast on again and seemed to get a more even tension, which is good. I did make a small mistake and ended up with an extra stitch, but I was able to tink back to the error and correct it. I’ve done an inch and a half and it looks really pretty. As I’m starting at the point, I suspect that length-wise progress will get slower as I go but at least I’m getting somewhere with it now.

OMG, I’m knitting lace!

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