Wednesday, 22 February 2012

There's snow business like snow business

This originally appeared in the Bath Chronicle on February 9, 2012

Let’s face it, we Brits love to talk about the weather.

Due to the crazy fact that our weather is so changeable, we never seem to tire of talking about/moaning about and speculating about what Mother Nature will throw at us next.

And, pun very much intended, the weather is the ultimate conversation ice-breaker.

Forget footy, Simon Cowell or the euro crisis, if you really want to engage a fellow Brit in conversational exchanges then phrases such as “it’s a bit parky out there” or “this rain, hey?” are guaranteed “ins”. We don’t always love our weather but we sure as heck love to talk about it.

As such, last Saturday was manna (or rather snowflakes) from heaven for many. Or indeed a glimpse of hell for others.

That is because snow is the ultimate Marmite in the weather kingdom – you either love it or hate it. And unlike Marmite (which is foul by the way) you may even do both depending on how deep it gets and how quickly it disappears.

Saturday’s one-day snow blitz summed up our mixed emotions beautifully. As we had our first serious flaking locally since last winter we went into overdrive with our fingers as active as our toboggans.

The fingers were playing their part by setting the Twitterati alive as the good folk of Bath and beyond told each other about the size of the flakes, where they were landing and (very helpfully) which roads to avoid, which buses had been cancelled and which supermarkets had already run out of Heinz beans as those believing we were heading for a snowbound Apocalypse started stocking up just in case.

A couple of hours on Twitter and you could get the impression the new Ice Age had begun.

The fear was palpable.

And yet, despite the nervous tweets and urgent radio broadcasts, last Saturday was actually a hoot for many others. For a start it was a weekend and so delighted schoolchildren were able to be out in the snow rather than frustratingly watching it through their classroom windows. Excited youngsters took the opportunity to get out and experience the fresh feel of the flakes on their faces and their smiles were a joy to behold. Memories of last year’s genuinely dramatic ‘snowbusiness’ probably left many disappointed that things weren’t quite as a dramatic as they had first thought but nevertheless plenty still took every opportunity to revel in the fun.

And if every cloud has a silver lining, when those are snow clouds then every one creates a silver lining. I truly believe that practically everywhere looks more beautiful when it has a dusting of fresh snow on it and when you have a city and wider area as beautiful as this, then it is like adding a layer of sumptuous cream to an already glorious pudding.

For every “the world’s about to end – stay in your igloo” tweet there were many other pictures being shared around of the day the snow came to town. Although it was probably not much comfort if your bus was cancelled you just knew that many of this year’s Christmas cards had already been given their images thanks to Mother Nature’s weekend visit . Yes, snow may be dangerous, disruptive and at times downright annoying but it has the unique ability to bestow collective beauty as well – and at the weekend it certainly did that in these parts.

Personally I had my own reasons to look nervously out of the window on Saturday., For, as you read this, I should be in Venice and on Saturday, as I changed my pounds into euros, I was rather too gleefully informed by the lady who fed me my crisp new notes that the Venetian canals were all frozen. It’s like getting set to go to Niagara Falls and being told they had dried up.

So I will check into Twitter today and if you are there send me a note (@samholliday) and tell me what the weather’s like here. And in return I will tell you if I am boating along a lake – or skating on it.

The weather. Don’t you just love it?

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