Snow

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This time last week I thought I would be in London this weekend, pottering around a market or watching Django Unchained and zooming about on the tube. Actually, I am back home in Yorkshire! During the week I spoke to my Mum and had a sudden urge to pay her a post-birthday visit. I started scrabbling through the pages of my already-scrappy 2013 paper diary and with a heady combination of Morocco holiday, NY & LA working weeks, a 30th, an engagement party and two hen do’s (suddenly realising that I am so that age!) I wouldn’t have been able to get back to Yorkshire until April at the earliest, so quickly booked myself a ticket for this weekend and here I am.

It is never a hardship for me to come back home. I’m fortunate enough to remain extremely close to my parents so any real-life time (rather than Skype time) is always much appreciated and only a 3 hour train ride away. I also still get massively homesick for the village, the city, the country and the NORTH that I grew up in and feel like I breathe easier the second I walk through the door to the home I have lived in my whole life. I’m sure nowadays it’s quite unusual to have only had one family home and I appreciate that I’m very fortunate to still be able to bluster in full of London stories and tense work shoulder stresses and dump myself on the sofa and be in the first and only proper home I have ever known. Now that I visit at the age of 28, being well and truly moved out for approaching a decade, it’s sometimes almost like going to a museum of memories. In every part of every room I have existed as a baby, a toddler, a child, a teenager… and sometimes the ghosts of yourself in days gone past creep upon you when you least expect it. I’m a nostalgia sucker anyway and constantly pick the scabs of good and sad times gone by, but the anonymity and scale of London makes it far easier to avoid triggers of past times and constantly recreate yourself and your life. Once you are back in a land of everything familiar and covered in layer after layer of people and moments and heartaches and experiences it’s like opening the floodgates to everything that’s ever happened to you.

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So I seem to have transformed myself into a SNOW HUNTER! This time last week my whole weekend revolved around snow, and this weekend… despite London swooning away in positively balmy sunshine, I have been back out in the snow as about 7 inches fell overnight here. It was my mum who suggested taking the sledge (!) so we bundled up with some serious knitwear (and showing her increased intelligence, my mum opted for waterproofs too, whereas I typically had to slope home with a soggy bottom and jeans dripping in thawing snow). The amazing thing about this snow day was the bright blue sky overhead. I’ve got used to the claustrophobic low mushroomy London sky this week, so it felt like we were somewhere far more exotic and piste-like than Bradford. The snow was so incredibly deep that my first attempt at sledging involved me sitting on the snow, moving about a foot, and then sinking. Clearly my weekly 5k run/pilates/swimming regime has not shifted enough of those Christmas pounds yet!  We had to adopt a very scientific approach to creating a proper sledge route which involved compacting the snow down with our wellies and then sledging over and over again until it was super-speedy and slick. I am definitely a far worse driver than my mum though, as I kept nosediving into snow banks and twice the sledge stopped and I carried on going, getting some classy derrière friction burning.

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We even tried once going down together in the sledge and recreating Cool Runnings. Luckily there weren’t too many people around to see two fully grown women trying to fit onto a tiny piece of plastic and whooping down the hill! Can you see how hideous my wellies are? They are bright neon pink with yellow Mr-Blobby spots and I can very clearly remember buying them when I was 15, so its a good job my feet haven’t grown. That’s another thing I love about my family home, there’s always the odd old item around for emergency weather. After haring up and down our sledge track for a good half an hour, I was scampering about like an idiot and DROPPED my iPhone in the snow! The snow was so deep that it instantly covered the spot where my phone had fallen in, like a vortex. I am ashamed to say that I think I reacted with the speed and fear of a parent who’s child has just fallen in a lake or something! I dove head first and dug dug dug until I found my (white – helpful) phone and ripped the cover off, trying to get the melting snow to stop creeping into all the nooks and electricity ports. After giving it a big wipe with my jumper and blowing on it a bit,  it miraculously seems completely fine? I am aware that after 5 minutes buried in melting snow this should not be the case… so really hope that in a few days it doesn’t die a death, but its charging away and sending messages and happily posting my 1000th photo to instagram, so perhaps I got really lucky.

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As we were leaving there was a mum with two toddlers setting about a sledging session herself, and I was really tempted to point out to her that she could very well still be doing this in her sixties with her grown up kids if she was anything like us! Considering I had no idea or plans to be here this weekend, it’s definitely turned into a memory I’ll always treasure and never forget. I better go retrieve my clothes that are drying in various places all over the house and go get an afternoon bath (such a guilty pleasure) and attempt to finish my current book. I’m reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern which fits well and truly into the modern fairy tale genre that am a total fiend for (if you haven’t read any I’d recommend Of Bee’s & Mist, The Man Who Rained & The Snow Child). Sometimes a book comes along that just captures your attention and heart immediately, and The Night Circus is definitely one of them for me. The writing style is incredibly evocative and uses every sense to ensure you feel that you not just reading about the circus, but that you’re actually a part of it too. It so vivid that I’ve had three dreams about being at the circus from the book now, and quite like the way it’s dominating my sub concious slumbering (way more fun than dreaming about keynote presentations and VFX job jargon). I’ll be quite sad when I finish the book but I have to stop dawdling as I am falling way behind in my pesky 51 book challenge.

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SNOW!

I really wasn’t going to do a snow blog, because my brain is bursting with other things to blog about at the moment and I know you can’t blink on twitter/instagram/facebook without seeing another photo or reference to the cold white stuff but… it’s just SO pretty! And I get the hype, it’s so rare that we get a decent depth of snow to roam around in that it just brings out the sparkly child in everyone and what’s not to like about that?

I’m very fortunate that Hampstead Heath is basically my back garden and after 18 months of living around the area, I know it’s nooks and crannies pretty well. I know the best tree to climb and the secret sledge runs and even the areas you can be guaranteed not to see another soul (not even a shifty character!) But I don’t think I’ve ever seen it looking more beautiful than today. Snow definitely suits the heath. The sky was as bright white as the ground, obviously full of more snow just waiting to fall again. This transformed the winter trees into spindly silhouettes and the hoards of sledgers on parliament hill took on a ghostly Lowry-esque quality.

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When people ask me what my favourite season is, I don’t really have a favourite. I just like proper seasons. I like my spring to be cherry blossom cardigan weather. I like my summer to have long balmy evenings drinking cider on a picnic blanket in the park. I like my autumn to burn through yellow orange and red colours and finally I desperately want my winter to dazzle me with Hollywood snow. So far winter has just been wet in London. Grey, wet, glum and with the occasional chilly night (always at the most inconvenient times when I’ve braved massive heels or left my woolly hat at work) so I knew it was vital to make the most of this fleeting snow day. Nick was a very willing companion as we bundled up in thermals and woollens and started a near-2 hour trek from one side to the other of the heath, stopping to do as much cheesy snow stuff as possible – snowballs, snow men with twig afros, snow angels, nearly falling into the frozen lake…

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I haven’t made many snow angels before and Nick had never ever made one (I think they are quite an American thing? I only learnt about them as a kid from watching Groundhog Day obsessively) so I gave him the patch of snow that didn’t have a single footprint on. I was at least smart enough to wait to the end of the walk to go rolling around in the snow as once you’ve angel-ed it manages to find it’s way in everywhere and suddenly I had damp patches and icy trickles everywhere, brrr! I really liked getting so cold though,  there’s no point being all adult and sensible in the snow.  We soon warmed up with a giant cup of tea and a big wedge of cheese & chutney on toast at home. We also finally finished True Blood season 4 – Did you watch it? What did you think? I have been a huge True Blood obsessive since season 1. I even have a Merlotte’s tee-shirt! I loved everything about it; the southern drawls, the incredible opening titles, the theme tune, the sultry Sookie, the vampires, the concept of true blood itself, Sam… In fact I thought season 3 was the best so far and was so excited for season 4 but wow. What a mess! Half way through the season I just couldn’t care less about any of the characters and the stories seemed to have gone off in a witchcraft weird tangent and there were constant wtf moments. I barely watch TV at the moment so when I do have a boxset feast I want it to be really good! I’ve never been so underwhelmed by a season finale and definitely won’t be watching season 5, I’ll probably just read the episode summaries on wikipedia and continue to be disappointed! The first one I looked up had the phrase “giant blood spraying vampire goddess” in it. Next up for boxset viewing for me is The Hour (which is a bit ridiculous I never started watching as I adore Mad Men and this is meant to be the UK attempt) and Community which my sister is desperate for me to watch and discuss and that’s a good enough reason for me. Ok, end of TV tangent…

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^By far the classiest photograph of me on the internet! Also Nick, despite being a first timer, is certified more angelic than me. We saw lots of sights on our snow mission; like a jack russell being pulled along on an old fashioned sledge, alot of questionable snowboot footwear oh and I absolutely loved creeping up to what I call Hansel & Gretel’s fairytale cabin which is actually the mens toilets (!!
but in typical Hampstead style, super stylish) and Nick thinks my obsession with it is ridiculous as he claims “if you’d visited them, and smelt them, in the height of summer you wouldn’t love it so much”! But look how cute it is…

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Finally, just to fashion up this blog a bit, here is my winter hat, glove and scarf combo. As you can see not a single item matches! Higgedlypiggeldy or what? The hat is long suffering bluey that I bought in San Francisco Urban Outfitters for $2 after arriving there and realising that my hotpants, vests and sunglasses were not going to fly in 7 degree fog (I just assumed it’s in California = it’s sunny. Wrong!) Then the scarf is a snood, I’ve recently discovered the wonder of the snood. I think I’ve avoided them because of the silly name but it’s just a giant extra toasty scarf without the long dangly bits that I always get caught in the tube door/any door. Finally my owl gloves. I know that animal covered knitwear is totally played out, and everyone owns a panda hat or hood with ears, but I quite like clothes that straddle costume/fancy dress so they still make me smile. These are the only version of animal knits I own though, they were a very welcome Christmas gift and I’ve barely taken them off since (except to roll snowballs!)

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