Broken car!

The ice and cold have killed my car battery. I tried several times to start it (with gaps in between to let it rest). I turned everything off, had it in neutral, gave it a little gas to try and get the engine to turn over. Just a splutter or two, then nothing.

I left it an hour and tried again. No joy. The battery is probably four years old and has been struggling when I’ve used the car lately. I haven’t been out much and then only short distances so the alternator hasn’t had the opportunity to charge it up. Cold and damp makes electric power seep away somehow and this last few days have definitely drained it.

In hope I rang a local garage, they have the right battery in stocks, but they can’t fit it, you just need some spanners they said. Half an hour on trickle charge from the charger just brightened the lights on the dashboard a bit. No chance of getting it going.

I then remembered I have breakdown cover! We breakdown so infrequently that I don’t remember to use it. They can’t say when they will be here, but they are at least coming out. Hooray.

Going out

I just got out of the house, only to go across the road to the supermarket, but it was definitely ‘out’. I leaned heavily on the shopping trolley to support myself, the cold air had got to my lungs and I felt short of breath again, but at least I didn’t cough. I was out yesterday, but only to walk from the car to the pharmacy and back again, so this was actually more of a test. The snow had all melted except in patches where it had been sheltered by the shadow of some bushes. In those places where the sun hadn’t penetrated there was crispy icy snow, glassy from compression by feet. I avoided those areas because I didn’t want to slip. Now I’m home and keeping warm. I’m wearing a fleece and my dressing gown over my clothes to keep warm!

So it did snow…

Not much though, and it’s melting today. But when it was snowing it was dropping big wet flakes out of the clouds, like bits of wet tissue paper. When you look up you can see the flakes falling down, dark shadows against the whitish clouds, then white as they get caught in the light from my doorway. There was a small accumulation over night, but then as the sun caught the snow on branches it dripped off in white blobs.

Around the country it has been far worse, a double decker bus toppled over on an icy road near Hinckley Point yesterday. Some of the passengers were injured. The lake district hills are covered in snow, and Scotland and Wales have had much more than here. I guess living in a city means it doesn’t get as cold so snow melts more quickly and with global warming there are less really cold days than ever before.

Winter watch is on

Winterwatch is an offshoot of Springwatch which is a programme that started on BBC TV several years ago. The presenters have changed over time, but it gives us a view of the British Isles through the seasons.

Winterwatch is lovely, seeing badgers, falcons, water rats, deer, stoats and seabirds amongst other animals gives you an idea of how they live and survive and in some cases thrive during the winter.

The programme explores wildlife and behaviour over a couple of weeks, sampling their lives and how humans affect them. The series is a wonderful reminder of nature. Some of it is filmed live during the evening programmes and also has videos of other animal activity happening at this time of year.

If you want to know more about the natural history of the British Isles during winter you can watch it in the UK on BBC 2, or the BBC I player, or the Facebook page which is called BBC Springwatch. Or bbc.co.uk/winterwatch

Still negative

Spending time worrying about whether I have covid means I have not really thought about all the other bugs out there. They can be transmitted differently, for instance by touching surfaces. I think covid is spread more by breathing in droplets.

Anyway, bam! I have got a bad cold or virus, and as many of these haven’t been around as much because people were not interacting or being in close contact with one another. We are all more susceptible to the risks of other diseases now. You might have immunity to one illness, but if you are not in contact with it frequently then it can be worse when you get it again. What fun! Sniffles…..

Solstice

When the sum rose this morning it was on the shortest day of the year. Now the days up here in the Northern Hemisphere will slowly start to lengthen again. At first at a minute or two a day, but gradually a few more minutes around spring time. Then as the Summer solstice approaches the number of minutes slows down. Finally after that the process goes into reverse and the days begin to wane again. So the great cycle of light and dark tumbles along North and South. Only on the equator are day and night lengths balanced out. The cause? Earth is tipped at an angle, so for six months of the year one half of the planet gets more light than the other (which also proves the Earth is a globe).

Happy Solstice everyone!

Ghost stories….

I couldn’t sleep last night and watched a few short adaptations of some M. R. James ghost stories, including one called the Mezzotint. The writer who adapted them is called Mike Gatiss and is well known for his involvement in the Sherlock series of detective mystery TV shows and other clever stories.

I realised that A Christmas Carol is a ghost story! Sounds strange but I think of it as a Christmas story and it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside rather than the slight weirded out shudder I get from ghost stories at this time of year. But then I prefer a taut, spooky, tension building story any day to a horror film, all lumbering zombies and nightmarish vampires. The ones where people Always run upstairs towards the danger instead of out the front door and to the safety of the police station (I mean a British police station, no guns, no odd sheriff who arrests you instead of looking for the real culprit, no hidden secret). No I prefer the subtle horror of a tap that continues to drip even after the lead piping connecting it to the mains water has been severed by a hacksaw… Or the gradual encroachment of a garden full of roses with sharp thorns and a deadly scent that can envelope an unwary new tenant attempting to cut back the thorny undergrowth.

And why do they put on these spooky little horrors at this time of year? Is it the lengthening hours of dark, dank, cold, mist and fog? The snow falling so that tracks can be left but then fade before an investigation can find them in the morning? Subtle screams muffled by an unseasonably rising tide? Its like a box of dark chocolates, with Evil centres.

I am quite particular in what I prefer. No evil dead films. More sneaking spooks, less fangs, more clues.

Covid on the up?

My friend just told me she has covid and a few other friends have had it recently. Then someone else posted this graph on Facebook. There is a definite uptick on the right of the graph. It’s not clear how it will progress and given the lack of publication of the stats on TV anymore its not surprising that people are possibly getting a little complacent about it. Yes most people are vaccinated, but it doesn’t mean you will be totally immune. I just hope that people can get over it quickly. I for one keep buying and wearing masks.

Minus 10°C

Ice or a plastic star? Just a Christmas decoration…. Its too cold outside to go and take photos, but the frost as sparkling on the pavement earlier this evening. I’d been out to panto rehearsal, and walked across the road to the shops and I had to hold onto a handrail because it was so slippery. There was a report on this evenings TV decrying the poor standard of housing in the UK and the cost for the poorest people to heat their homes. If you want to know its 10% in France and 18% in the UK.

So tonight it’s going to be minus 10°C in places. That’s quite cold for this country.

Rain and more rain

It hasn’t stopped raining for the last two days, places in Scotland have had as much rain in a day as they usually have in a month. I’ve kept inside and kept my sore throat and sniffles to myself. I think the weather has bought the bad bugs out. Plus with travelling last week I’ve probably come into contact with other people who have had colds. I did a lateral flow test this morning that was negative, but instead of my usual poor sleep I’ve been totally exhausted. Anyway at this rate I’ll be building an ark!