Category Archives: Cameras, film and memory cards
My New Best Friend on the other side of The Pond is Adam Zettler of MetroMarks. He’s recently launched a regular feature called My Favourite City on the MetroMarks website, where you can find all sorts of insider info about an ever-growing number of cities around the world. They kicked off My Favourite City with a post about Toronto, Zettler’s hometown, and this week they’ve given me some space to rave about Venice, Italy. If you click on the link below, you’ll find out my top three must dos in Venice, my favourite restaurant for both memorable views AND food, as well as other reasons why I find this city so special. Most importantly, perhaps, are my tips on how to enjoy Venice without falling into the typical tourist traps.
Click here to read My Favourite City – Venice.
Click here to find MetroMarks on Facebook.
Follow MetroMarks on Twitter: @MetroMarks
To sign off, here are a few photos of Venice from earlier this year:
Casanova and his latest squeeze, spotted near Frari
A trio of palazzi
View of St Mark’s Square from the bell tower at San Giorgio Maggiore
One day it was sure to happen: Monsieur and I would look in the mirror to find Tweedledum and Tweedle-ette staring out at our over-nourished selves. Recently, that day arrived. I wondered if we were indeed genetically linked to Jabba the Hut, such were the rolls of flab about our bellies. In our enjoyment of food, Monsieur and I had each gained a cautionary number of kilos in the years we’ve been together and now it was finally time to shake them off. I’d started to dread getting dressed because nothing looked right, yet I was loath to buy the larger size. My wardrobe was in dire straits and our families no longer ate alongside us discussing subjects like current affairs, travel or politics. No, they would recognise our love of food by kindly offering us seconds as the next deluge of diet tips tripped off their tongues. Family mealtimes were now too often filled with unsubtle reminders that my husband and I were FAT (God bless the honesty of blood relatives, not…), so, lest we anticipated living a life where conversation with loved ones would revolve around DIETS and EXERCISE forever after (yawn), we had to act. Now. The diet would no longer start tomorrow; in fact, it started a few weeks ago and you’ll be relieved to hear that Monsieur and I are already smaller versions of our roly poly, butter-loving selves and happily continue to shrink towards our target weights.
To coincide with the change in our eating habits, Fuelmyblog asked if I’d be interested in reviewing a framed enlargement service at a branch of the photography shop, Snappy Snaps, a stone’s throw from where I work in Hammersmith. Ah, now this could work out nicely, I thought, for I needed one of those weight loss inspiration photos somewhere prominent in the flat and the front of the fridge wouldn’t work in our case – it’s non-magnetic laminate and I hatehatehate sellotape on appliances.
Choosing the right image wasn’t too hard; I went back through the pictures of my hike up Ben Nevis some time back, Before I Got Fat. Downloading a picture of me at the summit of the highest peak in Great Britain, looking slimmer, fit and happy, a version of moi that I’m determined to see again, I took it on a USB to Snappy Snaps, who checked the image on one of their computers, agreed some minor cropping for the enlargement, asked the all-important question: “gloss or matt?” and told me to return at lunchtime the following day to collect the finished product.
The service was a breeze. I returned on time, almost to the minute stated on my receipt and, sure enough, my inspiration photo was ready. The 10 x 8 inch frame was affordable (less than a tenner total) simple in black and sturdy enough to stand but can also be hung on the wall. It now lives next to a papier mâché fish on a chest of drawers in our hallway. The photo certainly does the trick. I pass it numerous times each day and it spurs me on to keep up the shrinkage. Here it is:
(The red fish is my friend, the lucky Vietnamese water puppet! She guards the framed photo now and with piranha-like teeth will maim the hand of anyone who tries to move it… )
Where I think Snappy Snaps most deserves praise is for keeping their high street stores in spite of so much online competition. I admit it’s been a while since I visited a physical photo store; I generally let my mouse do all the walking. However, when I order prints, enlargements, greetings cards made from my photos or other photo products online, it can be a very hit-and-miss affair. Colours alter, finishes vary and one photo book ordered by a family member had to be sent back to the printer 4 times before they got it right. When I speak to my friends and colleagues, this sort of experience is perfectly common, after all, we’re dealing with computers here, not people. So imagine how refreshing it was to pop into my local Snappy Snaps, for a friendly, fast and efficient service given by real human beings. It only serves to reinforce the importance of the physical store in a world where shopping is done more and more frequently online. Agreed, computers are great. Online shopping can be practical. But sometimes, we just need a person.
This was a review post for Snappy Snaps & Fuelmyblog. I received 1 framed photo enlargement so that I could review these for you. My review is honest and in my own words.
Snappy Snaps online – click here
Fuel My Blog – click here
Among my vices various, those who know me will tell you that I am a self-confessed, bona fide bag lady. It would be perfectly accurate to call me a bagophile or loverrrrr of all things bag. Ever since I was given my first small cane handbag with chocolate leather closure and handles and chocolate cotton lining at the grand old age of four, I’ve been hooked on handbags, mainly because of an irrational fear that I might get bored without some portable entertainment in my possession at all times. So my handbags generally have to be large enough to accommodate 1 x book to read, 1 x Moleskine journal, digital camera and pens plural (in case one runs out), on top of the regular paraphernalia of phone, keys, money, lip gloss and travel pass.
To be absolutely clear, I love bags of all shapes and sizes – suitcases, duffel bags, totes, evening purses, shoppers, and I even admit to having a vague interest in airline sick bags of the empty and never-used variety. (Please do note, however, that I draw the line at squeaky vinyl or Judith Leiber.) Much to the annoyance of crowded-out golf bags, shoes and evening dresses, the majority of one large cupboard at home is given over to this particular passion for bags, the collection of which was recently augmented by the addition of one large example from a London-based company called ‘Clippy’.
Monsieur will tell you that when I’m not growing my bag family, I love collecting bits and pieces from our trips – ready to stick into my journal, which is always with me (in a bag). He’s so accustomed to this now that before he bins detritus from his pockets, he’ll turn to me and say “do you want to keep this ticket/ card/ receipt/ brochure?” (delete where applicable); rolling his eyes with amused indulgence when I reply “yes, please.” (At least I’m predictable). What doesn’t find its way into my Moleskine will end up in albums various or treasure boxes filled with souvenirs. I’m a proper little squirrel with sentimentality issues; that much is certain.
So when you take one bag-lover-stroke-memento-hoarder and offer her the opportunity to review a clear plastic Clippy bag covered in clear plastic pockets just begging to be filled with bespoke decoration, including souvenirs, you are single-handedly responsible for making the Universe a much happier place for one particular bag lady.
The new bag was not a done deal. Yet. I had to order it online for starters. Here’s how it went:
First, I visited the Clippy site and found that there are two ways to order a Clippy bag:
- You can order the bag with empty pockets and fill them yourself at home, or
- You can upload your own photos and/or use the Clippy site’s stock images to fill the virtual pockets of your chosen bag, so that you can see how the finished bag will look and leave the hard graft to all those clever Clippy folk.
***Either way, you’ll be faced with a dilemma: pink handles or black handles? Now, THAT is the question.
I followed the instructions for option 2, doing everything possible online, and was quite unprepared for how much fun this would be.
The first part of the process is registering your details on the site (easy peasy) before choosing your bag. There are various styles – from pencil cases and washbags to totes and shoppers. Was this part difficult? Only for the bag-o-phile who has a hard time making decisions. In the end I tore myself away from the darling metallic ringbinders which would be oh-so-perfect for random travel jottings, to choose an eighteen pocket shopper (nine pockets on each side) just begging to be stuffed with excesses of sentimentality.
Bag chosen, I moved on to the next stage: uploading photos to the site. This was the hardest part of the process, only because I am that abovementioned indecisive bagophile. Which to choose? Should there be a theme? What about balancing colours? Should I go garish and clashing or keep it sleek in black and white?
In the end I uploaded a selection of photos (colour, in case you were wondering) representing two of my other passions: travel and food. The site allows you to move the photos around from pocket to pocket so you can see how they’ll look once inserted in the bag. Once you’re happy with the overall effect, you save and send your finished virtual bag via the Clippy site links to the Clippy people (who, for some reason, I imagine are adorable little pink oompa loompas – apologies if that’s not the case.).
This was the only time I had a problem. I’d save and send my bag, as per the on-site instructions, but the shopper repeatedly disappeared somewhere between my computer and the other end. Luckily, the brainchild behind Clippy, an accidental entrepreneur called Calypso, was there to talk me through the process. Neither of us could see why my bag design hadn’t reached her, but with some perseverance the system finally worked and my bag was despatched the following day. Hooray! NB I have to say that it would seem I’m the exception to the rule here. Everyone else’s online bag creations were behaving; just not mine.
And so, it was with calorie-busting excitement that I opened the grey plastic packaging to find my first Clippy bag. There were my images, all staring out at me from their designated pockets. A pretty gingham bow was tied around one handle and a Clippy badge sat in one of the central pockets – encouraging more multi-media insertions of my own. I took the bag for a spin around the office. The feedback from the girls was favourable, although progress was slow thanks to everyone wanting to know the story behind each photo.
Then it was time to get serious. How did my first Clippy stack up on the bagophilia barometer? Firstly, I checked out the quality of the photos in the pockets. Sadly, it wasn’t great. The whole concept is so eye-catching that quality photographic paper would definitely help make the images stand out more. As it is, the photos are on heavy stock paper such as I might use for a presentation document at work, with the result that they’re a bit flatter than they might be. In future, I’d probably opt for getting the photos printed myself and doing the DIY bag decoration at home. That way you have more control over paper weights and finishes.
Other than the image quality, I’m very happy with my Clippy. It’s sturdy, waterproof and versatile – equally suited for the likes of trips to the deli at the weekend or to the swimming pool after work. It would also be a clever carry-on bag for any holiday involving airports and uptight security guards, simply because it’s clear plastic. There are no secrets with a Clippy bag.
Having said that, on further exploring the Clippy site I found that there are optional bag-liners in case you’re a bit more private about the contents of your bag. If you really want to push out the bespoke boat, there are Clippy sticker packs and pocket liners to get you started, although personally, I wasn’t tempted. I’m good to go with a handful of metro tickets, postcards and restaurant cards, tokens, a good luck charm and a beer mat or two. And the best thing about my Clippy bag is that whenever someone notices it, there are automatically eighteen stories to tell. So, if an image is worth a thousand words, then I estimate that my eighteen Clippy bag photos and a couple of handfuls of mementos would fill a book.
Here’s what my bag looks like:
If you would like to try Clippy’s products for yourself, log onto the Clippy site here.
This is a review post. I was provided with the product free of charge for the purpose of honestly reviewing it. I have not been instructed what to write and my opinions are honest and my own.
For my friend, Pat Coakley, of Singleforareason
For those of you who haven’t yet come across Pat or her photography and philosophy blog, Singleforareason, you should visit it right NOW. If I ever finish writing my foodie memoir, I’d love Pat to illustrate it – her photos of plants and fruit and vegetables and other fridge contents really get me going. She also takes the most eerie photos whilst driving, and this inspired me to attempt the same while Monsieur and I were in Maui earlier this year. The only difference was that Monsieur was driving whilst I was photographing. Pat manages to do both at the same time.
Some of my novice drive-by-shooting results are here:
Those clouds above the mountains stay above the mountains. Down on the West coast, where most of the main resorts are, it hardly ever rains.
All the palm trees in Maui are bent in the direction of the dominant wind. The first bent palms we saw were just outside the airport. This one was a bit lonely, stood by the side of the road in the middle of sugar cane country.
Sugar cane and ominous clouds that threaten but never quite reach us.
The Maui skies are huge and the landscape dramatically craggy from its volcanic heritage.
The sun sets early here. It’s already hiding behind the mountains but hasn’t quite gone.
Just south of Lahaina the hills are terracotta and ancient-looking. The sky begins to blush as the sun drops closer to the horizon.
Its glow bounces off our shiny red Mustang as we head back up to Ka’anapali Beach and our hotel. It will be another postcard perfect evening for us as we watch the colours change around the neighbouring islands.
Monsieur thinks I’m nuts to sit in the car taking photos as we whizz around the island – nothing new there. I think it’s fun and will definitely do this again. It gives a whole new perspective on our surroundings. Thank you, Pat, for the inspiration.
Only the blind could possibly miss the sight of the Golden Gate Bridge on a visit to San Francisco. It’s everywhere. Even when you’re on the wrong side of a hill or behind a building, it’s omnipresent – on postcards and tee shirts and coffee mugs and posters.
Rather than content ourselves with the varying 2-D views of this stunning landmark on calendars in gift shops, Monsieur and I decided that our honeymoon would not be complete without a couple of Golden Gate Bridge crossings. And so we traversed this world-famous suspension bridge in our giant white Smurfmobile; first to visit Muir Woods and Sausalito, and on another occasion to visit the vineyards of Napa Valley.
We were incredibly lucky with the weather while we were in San Francisco; the sky was Halcyon blue, a striking backdrop for the deep terracotta span of the Golden Gate. As the Smurfmobile neared the bridge my heart skipped a little with excitement. Then, at last, we were right there on the 2737 metre-long structure, the choppy waters of the Bay beneath us and eerie little Alcatraz a small dot to our right.
Once on the Marin County side, we pulled into a viewing area to take photos of the city skyline, The Rock and the Oakland Bridge. Then we went for a little walk part way back across the Golden Gate. Cyclists share the walkway so we had to be careful not to be squished by keen people in lycra pedalling in their lycra best. The concept of slowing down for pedestrians did not seem to feature in the mindset of this speedy bunch.
As we moved towards the centre of the bridge Monsieur and I noted with interest an emergency helpline phone. Statistics on how many people jump from the Golden Gate each year vary greatly, depending on who’s counting (local government statistics tend to be significantly lower than independent groups), but at least there are phones there if a potential jumper has a change of heart up there and decides to ask for help.
Analysis shows that the Golden Gate Bridge is the most popular place (if you can call it ‘popular’) for suicides on the planet. Jumpers rarely survive (although there is the tale of one survivor who swam to shore and drove himself to hospital) thanks to a 75 metre drop which takes 4 seconds for the average body to achieve, by which time it has gathered enough velocity to render its impact on the water like that of a mass of concrete. In the rare cases that a jumper does survive the fall, they will be injured by it or may freeze to death in the chill water. In the cases where a jumper achieves their objective, their body may never be found, thanks to the strength of the currents which may wash a body straight out to sea.
Pondering this, Monsieur and I wandered back to the car, managing (just) to survive NOT a 75 metre fall into icy water but the very real danger of the cyclists who were all riding their bikes as if they were after the yellow jersey. Fortunately, we made it back to the car park in one piece, but not thanks to them. Cyclists of the Golden Gate Bridge: may all your tyres go flat.
Now safely ensconced in our fat, white car on a particularly sunshiny day we had plans that did not involve rushing about or running people over. Following a hectic eight months our aim was to relax and take time to smell the metaphorical roses. That in mind, we were off to experience the cycle-free tranquillity of Muir Woods. Chipmunks and redwoods, AHOY!
Last Sunday I decided that something had to be done about my current addiction to (a) duvets, (b) blankets and (c) our gas fire. Donning as many layers as possible I took my camera to photograph the canals of Little Venice, which had frozen over.
Looking down Regent’s Canal from the blue Warwick Avenue bridge the canal looked more like a road you could drive along, rather than a waterway to float along.
A rare patch of water was visible under the other side of the blue bridge. Further along I found the beautiful red puppet theatre barge, which brought its optimism to the otherwise grey-and-white day.
Around the corner, poor old Jason sat quite inert. In the warmer months of the year he keeps busy chugging tourists up to Camden Lock and back, but now the canals are frozen solid so there’ll be no chugging for Jason for a while.
Some local folk had been testing the solidity of the ice, throwing bricks and other rubbish onto the canals to see whether the ice would break. It didn’t for this piece of scrap metal that will soon be polluting Browning’s Pond.
I once watched someone walk across an iced-over canal in Regent’s Park, but didn’t feel like risking an icy bath by trying to do so here. Meanwhile, in Scotland, a couple of joy-riding youths narrowly escaped death this week when they took their Peugeot 406 for a spin on the frozen Union Canal. Were their brains frozen? Apparently so.
This barge-café was open as usual, serving mugs of tea and coffee to walkers in need of somewhere to thaw.
Looking back at the Puppet Theatre and the blue bridge on Warwick Avenue, all of Browning’s Pool had disappeared beneath the ice.
The seagulls and other inhabitants of Browning’s Island took to their feet, walking about the ice in confusion. Where had the water gone?
Bilster wisely wore a coat against the weather.
And Bilster had obviously been around for a while, having been part of the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company, in the days where the canals were used to transport goods up and down the country. FYI London hasn’t seen a phone number like CITY 4755 for quite some years.
The plants on this barge were hardy in the cold, but still I wondered if they might like to be taken inside to warm up, if only for a little while.
Further along, I met a swan in a patch of water near Paddington. He was swimming in circles, bleating at me as he searched in vain for his friends. Where had they gone? How ever had he been abandoned?
Still, he seemed happy of my company, even if the other walkers looked at me with concern each time I replied to his cries with a quack of my own.
Near Paddington I found a barge with homely plume of smoke coming from its chimney and two loads of firewood stacked on its roof. The occupants must be long-time residents of the canal and know how to protect themselves against the elements.
It was time to turn back. At Browning’s Pond the island’s usual population of Canada Geese were on the ice, preening themselves with the aid of watery reflections.
But now it was time to trudge home, careful not to slip or do involuntary ballet-like manoeuvres in an attempt to stay upright on icy patches. Enough of ice and snow. Bring on the gas fire, duvets and blankets!
It’s official: I need a waterproof camera. When Monsieur and I were caught in a Sicilian deluge in the little town of Trapani, I couldn’t help myself; I kept on snapping. Even in the grey of the downpour, shooting Trapani’s buildings was worth getting a little wet. Or so I thought. Meanwhile, Monsieur’s camera stayed safe in a dry pocket. Ah, such wisdom.
Everything seemed fine until we got back to the hotel that evening. I tried to take a shot of our room, only the LCD screen on my trusty little Canon Powershot SD870 IS started to act up. First it went pink, then dark, bit by bit, kind of like those black spots that appear before your eyes just before you pass out. Then there was nothing. The lens was open but no one was home. The screen showed nada. Oh, hell.
Taking my camera to hospital was definitely in order, but we wouldn’t be able to do that until we got to Taormina the following evening. And that evening would be New Year’s Eve, so I was likely to be without the ability to photograph anything until the New Year rolled round, IF I could even find a photographics shop that was open over the holidays. Monsieur scolded me. “You shouldn’t have used it in the rain. It’s probably got water in it and that’s going to take a while to dry out.” Bummer.
Periodically, I’d get the camera out and try, try, try to get some sort of image on the screen. Sometimes I was rewarded for my efforts, but everything would appear tinged with a strange purply pink before going dark after a mere few minutes of action. Still, some of the shots turned out quite interesting, so I kept them. Here are some shots of Sicily through rose-tinted lenses.
This was our room, with Amityville lampshade, at the moment when I realised that something was wrong.
In Taormina, things seemed to return to normal, for a moment or two. Then suddenly, THIS:
Miraculously, a photographics shop was open in Taormina on New Year’s Day. I trotted into the shop, offending camera in hand, and in my best Italian explained that it wasn’t working. To demonstrate, I pulled it out of its case and turned it on. Wouldn’t you know it? The screen showed a perfect image, no pink anywhere. What a stupid ‘Inglese’ I was. As I left the shop I could still hear the three assistants laughing at my error. Hrmph.
And so, for the next day or so, the camera behaved just as it should, but on the drive back to Palermo, it had a relapse. As we stopped to photograph Etna, all was going well:
But minutes later The Canon and I were once more tainted in our outlook:
It seemed we were into apocalyptic-style photography now.
By the time we got home, the camera was perfectly happy once more, doing precisely as it was told at all times, so I put its pink episodes down to internal damp and a change in air temperature around Etna.
And so, months and much use later, Monsieur and I sat in the sun on our first day in Sardinia. I took out my camera, turned it on and BOOM it went all pink on me again. Perhaps it’s something about these Italian isles that makes it blush so. This time it only lasted for a minute or two before behaving perfectly for the entire trip. I guess it must have been disturbed by the in-flight air pressure. What a delicate little thing my camera is. Lesson learned: never, but never should I use my Canon to take photos in the rain.
(I’m considering my next digital camera as this one is going to die soon. Its LCD screen is growing a big black hole. My previous powershot was bulky and needed batteries but had one of those little turn around screens on the back so when you weren’t using it, you could close it up against damage. Any recommendations you have for the next Epicurienne camera would be most welcome!)
On Sunday night London experienced its biggest snowfall in eighteen years. It was something else. I knew that snow was on its way but never expected anything this dramatic. I’d spent the weekend in Paris with Monsieur’s parents. Then Monsieur stayed in Paris for an extra day and I returned home like a good girl so I could skip merrily along to work on Monday morning. On Eurostar, I had a total plonker sat next to me with his Very Large Laptop. Having had to disrupt his e-mail filing on two occasions to (a) go to the loo and (b) go to the bar I finally had this exchange with him:
“Please excuse me,”
(Harrumphing sounds. I notice he has a nasty pimple festering in the undergrowth of his fledgling beard)
“Perhaps if you’re going to be getting up all the time you should have booked an aisle seat.”
“Right. Perhaps you could take my window seat then and I’ll have YOUR aisle seat.”
“If you insist.” (More harrumphing sounds as he moves. It would seem there’s just no pleasing some Festering Pimpleheads)
After that, and having spent most of my day seated, I returned to the bar and wrote up my journal on one of the tiny standy uppy table things. Then I got sick of writing my journal but was still not keen to resume sitting next to Festering Pimple Man so I called Epic Mama. She told me it had been snowing in England, and sure enough, once we were through the Chunnel, there was a dusting of snow on all the platforms we passed through.
At St Pancras station my cab was waiting (I always order one to avoid the crowds and save my back from lugging suitcases up and down tube stairs) and huge snowflakes danced around us. By the time I got home, the snow had started to lay and a couple of hours later we’d had about three inches. The snow was blowing about like that of a snow globe collector on a shaking frenzy and parked cars were disappearing beneath the thick, white blanket. Those who braved the weather outside made fantastic crunching sounds as they trudged through the powder. Meanwhile, I watched from the window, absolutely mesmerised. Then, as the snowfall ceased for a while I pulled on my snow boots and grabbed my camcorder. This was historic. It had to be filmed.
I headed along our street, pointing the camera at bicycles covered in snow, (giggling about someone literally running the risk of freezing their backside off), recycling bins covered in snow, cars covered in snow, you name it covered in snow. Then I pushed open the gate to the communal garden and entered a veritable wonderland. Everything was a strange silvery colour and being alone in the garden so late at night, with pristine snow all around me and the mature trees looking like something from a Narnia film, made me want to laugh out loud. It was a feeling of complete exhilaration. Chatting away to the camera about what I was seeing, I filmed it all before realising that I was no longer alone; a couple of neighbours had joined me. We chatted briefly and one suggested I put my film onto the garden website but I don’t think I will because in one part I break into song. (That’s the sort of thing I do. At least I can say that this time it was from the Sound of Music, but I’ve been known to sing Wizard of Oz songs and worse whilst shopping. Ding dong the witch is dead…)
By the time I got home it was obvious that getting to work was going to be a nightmare. If a leaf deigns to flutter onto the tracks here, there are delays. What on earth would happen with several inches of snow? I called my trusty cab company but they wouldn’t take a booking, telling me to call again early the following morning, which I did. It was no help, though. They said the roads were bad and they weren’t taking bookings at all, so I left for work following my usual route and giving myself an extra half an hour to get there. That ought to do it! Or so I thought.
Outside, it was immediately obvious that more snow had fallen in the night and judging by the depth of roof frosting of some cars, we must have had about 7 inches in my neighbourhood. The streets were white with snow and it was deathly quiet. Only fools (or Festering Pimpleheads) would attempt to drive in this.
It took longer than usual to reach the tube and once there, it seemed that everything was okay but I knew it was too good to be true. Further along on the commute, at the station where I have to change, I walked all the way from one end to the other in order to pick up my link, only to find that the line had been suspended. I called work. No one answered so I left a voicemail. Plan B was to take the Circle and District lines and change onto the Piccadilly line somewhere but the C and D lines had also been suspended. Then DING! The big lightbulb in my brain went on. I could take a bus to work, but after standing at a strangely empty bus stop for a good ten minutes, a Royal Mail worker informed me that all buses had been cancelled in London due to the snow. This was turning into one of those films like 28 Days Later.
So, I couldn’t get a cab, my tube links were all down, there were no buses in London… I guess I could walk? But after a few minutes it became apparent that this was not an option. It takes me an hour and ten to walk to work on a fine day; in snow it would take forever.
Back at the station I went to its only operational tube line to try to get somewhere, anywhere that I could pick up a line towards work. To do this meant heading further away from my destination in order to hopefully move forwards. This, too, backfired. First, three trains went through before one arrived that we could fit onto. In the interim, a pushy wench with a suitably ski-jump-ish nose backed into me. Hard. Apparently my huff of discontent was audible to her. She flicked her head round faster than the Exorcist kid and stuck the ski jump in my face.
“What’s your issue, *****?” (Asterisk translation clue – she called me a female dog)
I stood my ground. “My issue is getting a body-blow from your back. Twice.”
But my adversary was having none of it.
“There’s no room here, in case you hadn’t noticed.”
All I noticed was a lack of apology. I reddened with unusual anger.
“How could I have noticed with your huge back in my face?”
The people around us were enjoying the display of tube rage, but just at that point, a train came that we were able to board, so the show ended just before we were tempted to pull clumps of hair out of each other’s heads.
The next part of the adventure was about to begin. I’ve been sardine on public transport before, but this was a whole different can of fish. When I finally extracted myself from said can to make a connection, I was greeted by a sign saying that that line, too, was down. Completely down. It was definitely time for some air so I surfaced and called my boss. He laughed at my predicament from the office, which happens to be a mere stone’s throw from his home. .
“Take the Jubilee Line to Green Park and change,” he suggested
“The Jubilee Line’s down.”
“Oh. Well, go shopping then!” He chortled, quite uncharacteristically. Perhaps the snow was affecting his thought processes? I couldn’t remember him ever telling me to ‘go shopping’ before.
“I’m nowhere near any decent shops and it’s too dangerous to walk.” I argued.
“Oh, well. Just go home then.” He offered.
I didn’t go immediately, thinking (mistakenly) that if I sat with a coffee for half an hour, then some of the tube issues might clear. Half an hour later, they were worse. I tried to get back on the line that had brought me here, to head home. It was now down. In spite of my best efforts to avoid walking, the only remaining transport option was my feet.
On my long, slow, trek back, I realised that most of the schools must have closed because there were kids everywhere, one little darling pelting his front door with snowballs, now smattered all over the finish. From the warmth of the flat I watched as the garden filled with families building snowmen and an igloo. The igloo took all day to make but was quite a success. Meanwhile, I’d been talking with a number of colleagues who’d also been struggling to get to work and then home. It would seem I wasn’t alone. In fact, only a quarter of our workforce had made it in. Our fine mayor, Boris Johnson, criticised people for not making it into work, calling it a ‘skive’. I say, if you want your city to operate in adverse weather conditions, Boris, how about using some of our taxes towards better equipping road and footpath-clearing equipment? The roads in my area of London haven’t been salted at all and the footpaths are treacherous. Now we hear that the country’s salt supplies are running out, so why not simply have a chat with our salt-harvesting friends across the Channel to see if they’d be interested in some extra business?
So what did Epic get up to on her unexpected ‘snow day’? Not much. Couldn’t work because at work the remote connection was down. Couldn’t veg with True Movies because our aerial is down.. Didn’t want to make snowmen because I’d experienced enough cold for one day, so I turned on the gas fire, swaddled myself in a rug and enjoyed a couple of DVDs set on tropical islands – the perfect antidote to such a chilly day. Oh, and if that sounds a bit TOO slothful, I also managed quite a bit of housework and some internet research for a pending HR situation at work.
Determined to return to the Land of the Living on Tuesday, I booked a cab, only to receive a last-minute phone call to say that a bus had slid into it just 200 metres down the road from our flat. To that, Monsieur asked me “Don’t they have snow ploughs in London?”
I later found out that no, London does not possess a single snow plough because it hasn’t needed one for some years, but if the current weather conditions indicate a looming ice age, I think it might be time to invest in one, at the very least. Either that, or take a leaf out of one Londoner’s book and cross country ski to work.
** P.S. If I can work out how to edit and upload my little film, you’ll see it here someday. I’m definitely still in the learner stage of my budding geek-dom!