Monday, 21 January 2013


I didn't try to go to work.  I thought yesterday afternoon that I probably wouldn't, as the snow came down, and set my alarm for an hour later than usual, so that if in the light of morning I decided it really wasn't that bad I could still be there before opening time, while if I wasn't going I hadn't dragged myself out of bed at six to no good purpose.  I rang in at twenty past eight, five minutes after the official January starting time, and got the answering machine, so clearly my employers were not standing in the office snapping their fingers and waiting for the staff to turn up.

In truth the snow wasn't that deep.  If I'd had to get out, if I'd had a crucial appointment or interview or had run out of essential medication, I'd have ventured on to the roads.  The postman made it at much his usual time, proving the lanes were not impassable.  But it would have been a miserably unpleasant drive to work, and there would have been practically nothing for me to do when I got there.  I don't suppose there were many customers today (if any), while the pots of herbaceous plants that still need weeding would have been covered in snow and frozen solid.  And I don't know how much snow they had on the Suffolk side of the border, but suspect it may have been more than we had here, thanks to the Clacton coastal strip effect.  My memories of driving to work the last time it snowed are still nerve racking enough that I've no desire to repeat the experience.

The Systems Administrator and I retreated back to the study, after breaking through to the sitting room for the weekend.  You can burn coal in the grate upstairs, and the SA had bought several bags and was getting paranoid about the rate at which we were chewing through logs.  We even put the radiators on, telling each other that we needed to get some heat into that end of the house, and in celebration of the fact that we had a full tank of heating oil.  The oil, however, has to last us a minimum of twelve months, so today it was back to burning poplar.  By lunchtime the temperature in the study had climbed laboriously from thirteen degrees to eighteen.

The snow was not deep and crisp and even, but already starting to melt slowly in splodgy lumps by the time I got up.  I detest melting snow, cold and wet being one of my least favourite combinations.  In this I am at one with the cats.  The fat indignant tabby spent the day on the chair by my desk.  This is where she spends most of her days, whether we are in the study and the stove is lit or not.  It is inconvenient, since I don't have the heart to move her when I need to print odd things, and have to work standing, leaning awkwardly forward over the desk.  The black cat began his day in the sitting room, becoming increasingly pathetic as he realised that the fire was not going to be lit and the radiator had been turned off, before coming and trying his luck in the study with the rest of us.  The big tabby and Our Ginger alternated between sleep and prowling around in circles, intimidating each other off the hearth rug, the footstool, the back of my chair and my lap, in a slow ceaseless swirl of bored cat.

I started off reading in the kitchen since the SA had Radio 2 on, but decided that the kitchen chair was doing my back no favours and that I'd have to ask the SA to listen through headphones so that I could join the party in the study.  Our normal routine is that we don't meet much in the mornings.  I generally get up first, and am often out in the garden before the SA surfaces, so that our first sustained conversation of the day is at lunchtime.  We happily pass twenty-four hours a day in each other's company when we're on holiday, but holidays are different.  You spend them charging about looking at things and doing things which in turn gives you lots to talk about.  You aren't sitting in one room surrounded by slightly irritable cats, one of you clamped into headphones watching a war film on a laptop, while the other checks all eleven pages of their Amazon wishlist in case anything has got cheap.  Devoted couple that we are, we will still be glad when it warms up enough for each to have some more personal space.

After lunch I started making a loaf of bread using Elizabeth David's basic bread recipe.  So far it hasn't risen as much as it is supposed to.  There is some good news, though.  The SA identified that my iPod battery was practically flat despite it living on the docking station which is supposed to charge it, charged it fully, and synched it with my laptop, and it has stopped stuttering.

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