Posts Tagged ‘weather’

Hello August

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

I’m not sure where July went but August has arrived and with it has come a realisation that I have been neglecting my blogging duties. No longer, my friends. I am back. Prepare yourselves for regular news from sunny Manchester.

I am currently listening to the BBC commentary of the Ashes test that is happening at my local sporting oval. I run past Old Trafford at least twice a week and I am quite excited by the prospect of running into (stalking) the Australian cricketers. Honestly, I just want to see Glenn McGrath. And maybe Warnie just for laughs. I had hoped to watch a game but the ticket prices are not minimum-wage friendly so I am making do with the radio.

Speaking of the radio, since moving to Manchester I have been heavily influenced by my extended family members and have become a radio listener. I turn BBC Radio 4 on every morning and listen to whatever interesting discussions are happening about arts, science, politics or general life. I have learnt a lot of random facts about topics I knew nothing about. My mind is being opened by old school technology! Wow.

I have officially passed my server test and am now a fully qualified waitress! I am proud to announce that I am yet to drop food or drinks on any customers (Touch wood! Touch wood!) and had one drunken business man tell me that I was, “The best server he has ever met.” Now that’s a compliment.

Manchester has been suffering from heat exhaustion resulting from the presence of this thing called “The Sun.” With temperatures in the low to mid 20s, the Brits don’t know what to do with themselves, complaining about it being too hot and  humid. I will admit that it is particularly warm inside buildings as air-conditioning is non-existent here and most places have been designed to keep warmth in. Windows that open appear to be a luxury. But thankfully some rain has arrived and everyone is calming down. Life can return to normal.

The sun!

The sun!

Getting My Legs Out

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Something truly astonishing has happened today. After approximately seven months hidden in the dark cave of jeans and trousers (I live in England now so I am practising not saying ‘pants’), my legs have escaped and are being exposed to UV light. The forecast for today is 19 degrees and sunny, which is the British equivalent of mid-summer in Australia. While 19 degrees would normally have me in multiple layers and complaining about how freezing it is, my internal thermometer appears to have shifted since moving to Europe and I am currently thinking, “Gosh, it’s warm.” I am joining the inevitable onslaught of pale and pudgy English flesh that will be reflecting the sun’s rays in parks, terraced pubs and any sunny public space. Normally I would be shy of my ridiculously pale legs, but here I blend in nicely. Although I am contemplating joining the Orange folk with their splodgy boot-polish brown spray tans. Then all I need to do is draw on some fake eyebrows, peroxide my hair and wear some leopard-print lycra and I’ll look like a local.

It is 10.30am on a Bank Holiday and the city is currently dead as everyone recovers from their MAD Sunday night out on the town. As my Sunday night involved abstinence from alcohol, a chicken and roast vegetable salad, and the final of Master Chef, I was up for my usual morning run at 7.15am. Running on public holidays is the most enjoyable experience as NO ONE else is around. Today was particularly glorious as the sun was shining, there was no wind, the air was slightly crisp and the trees are currently in bloom with pink and white blossom. All I needed was for a deer to run along side me and I could have been Mary Poppins. But as I returned to the city and ran along the main drag of Deansgate, I ran past a series of pubs that had smashed glass and beer stains all over the pavement. The stench from stale beer was overwhelming and forced me to run faster in order to get away from it. I don’t think Mary Poppins had to deal with that.

Today I am planning a walk along the Manchester Canal to the Lowry centre where there is a food festival on. I am mostly going in order to complete one of my 108 challenges – to get as close to Paul Hollywood (a celebrity baker/chef with “piercing blue eyes”) as possible. He will be there signing books and as long as I don’t have to buy a book, I will attempt to get a photo with him. Right – time to go and work on my tan.

Marathon Training Run #4

Monday, January 28th, 2013

As I am attempting to keep myself accountable I am informing everyone that I completed my Marathon Training Run #4 on Friday morning. More perceptive readers may notice that there never was a Number Three because it was snowed out. Last week I could finally return to my normal morning runs on Tuesday after having gone slowly mad from my inability to exercise since the previous Friday. My legs sang with joy as I finally left my house and dodged piles of snow and patches of ice on the footpaths.

Friday morning wasn’t exactly warm. In fact, it was -4 degrees when I left home. Two hours and 21 kilometres later I returned home, still cold. The problem with running in the cold is that while your body heats up, your extremities don’t and the poor circulation in my hands and feet meant they were ready to fall off despite being gloved and socked. The cold air is also just a lot harder to breathe, making it harder to run. At least, this is the excuse I like to tell myself as I returned home having only completed 21 kilometres and feeling like it was 20 kilometres too many.

The cold air also makes my muscles much tighter and I get sorer quicker. I don’t know how people run in countries where it is cold all winter. I was surprised by the number of people who continued to run in Paris despite the snow and slippery ice – I attempted it on Monday morning and got half way down the street and realised it was a stupid, stupid idea, returned home and did laps up and down under the verandah (haha… verandah. How Australian of me.)

There has been a visible increase in the number of joggers over the last few weeks. While I am normally the only person stupid enough to run through Paris, there are lots of people training for the half-marathon in March and the full marathon in April. It is nice to see other people out running, although I find it funny how most of them have shiny new shoes that have clearly never been worn out on the streets of Paris before. My previously white shoes have a very strong tint of Paris-Black to them.

It’s All White

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Wow. As I sit at my dining table/writing desk/printing space/dump-stuff-area writing this, I keep having to look up and stare out of the window. Outside Parc de Villemin (aka my backyard) is white. Completely and utterly white. Well there are patches of grey and brown and a little hint of green, but it’s 88 per cent white.

You may or may not have heard that it snowed last night à Paris and this time the snow has stuck around for us to enjoy the next day. It started snowing at about 5.30pm yesterday and continued all night. I returned home from a housewarming party at 1.30am and walked through snow-covered streets, past snow-covered cars and bikes, and dodging snow balls flung by teenage boys. It was astonishingly beautiful. This morning when I woke up, I sat up in bed, looked over my mezzanine wall and out through the window, hoping hoping HOPING for all of my fairy-tale dreams and wishes to come true. Would I wake up to discover Paris covered in snow?

Yes!

Bonjour Paris!

Bonjour Paris!

I am so glad my apartment looks out onto a park because the view into the trees and snow covered garden beds is significantly more attractive than looking out onto Gare de L’Est and the big intersection out of the front which is covered in black slush and just looks soggy and dirty. But not the park! I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw Bambi prancing about in the snow.

One of the greatest things about snow in Paris is that everything slows down – people walk slower (or don’t go outside at all which is even more pleasant), cars drive more carefully and when there’s no traffic about there is that gentle muffled quiet that snow brings. It’s as if Paris is wearing a pair of giant earmuffs. The snow is slowly starting to melt but they expect another front to come through tonight and it should be even whiter tomorrow morning. Apparently I am very lucky to see this as Paris doesn’t usually get this much snow. I’m fairly certain it has been my positive thoughts and extreme obsession with seeing snow in Paris that has created this phenomenon. The citizens of this city can thank me later.

Amazingly pretty by the canal. There was no one in the tourist boat by the way.

Amazingly pretty by the canal. There was no one in the tourist boat by the way.

The strange thing, for me at least, is that Parisians don’t seem to know what to do with snow. They certainly weren’t prepared for its arrival and now that it is here, there isn’t the instant cleanup that I would have expected. Instead I have seen a lot of men in green uniforms, who would usually be hosing dog poo off footpaths with a high-pressure water sprayer, walking around with wheelbarrows full of salt and unidentifiable black stones and scattering them on the ground. This morning an overweight man with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth was attempting to push a salt-scatterer along the paths in the park and was having great difficulty controlling the machine in the few centimetres of snow on the ground. Canadians must find this very amusing.

The lack of clean up has meant that I couldn’t do my 20 kilometre training run this morning (quel domage!) Actually it was weirdly upsetting and so I decided to postpone it until tomorrow morning but the current forecast suggests I will just be disappointed again. I am discovering my brain is very messed up in that it gets upset that I can’t go for a run because there is TOO MUCH SNOW on the ground. Right… Ok, time to go and throw snow balls.

My friend Chuck taught me how to make snow balls of death. Now that I think about it, maybe it was Chuck Norris...

My friend Chuck taught me how to make snow balls of death. Now that I think about it, maybe it was Chuck Norris…

Snow Keeps Falling on My Head

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I have an announcement to make. I, Jessica Davies, after two years of patient waiting, a few tears and much disappointment, can finally say that I have danced in the snow in Paris. Well, maybe not danced, but jumped up and down excitedly with a HUGE grin on my face. It has been one of my strange obsessive dreams to see snow falling in Paris, and while a few weeks ago it apparently did snow, I didn’t see it happening and it was pathetic snow that I decided not to count it. Last year I missed the snow completely as I had returned to Perth to renew my visa and was in 40 degree heat while it was snowing here. This year I refused to let this happen again and waited like a stubborn mule for the snow to arrive.

And arrive it did! In big fluffy white flakes that turned my black winter jacket into leopard print. It was a bit soggy and I did get quite wet standing outside staring happily up into the sky, watching the snow fall in the street light. But I felt like a five year old waking up on Christmas morning – I was so ridiculously happy.

The snow has melted but yesterday there were more brief appearance of snow and twice I had snow randomly fall on my head whilst walking outside. Now THAT is exciting stuff!

Snow by the canal

Snow by the canal

YAY! SNOW!

YAY! SNOW!

Merry Not-So-White Christmas!

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

Merry Christmas friends! I hope you are all happy, healthy and having plenty of cake on this festive day. I am currently sitting in my brother’s lounge room in Sheffield, listening to a Hospital Records drum and bass podcast and waiting for my next meal. It isn’t far away – lunch should be in the next half an hour or so. Ben and I have bought a chicken for dinner along with some brussel sprouts and other vege and we’ll have chocolate puddings for dessert. Not bad for a Christmas for two!

I have spent the last few days working in my brother’s bakery and it is nice to sit down and do NOTHING. Ben and Martha have worked so hard over the past five weeks to get their bakery open, functioning and capable of delivering bread for the Christmas period. It was slightly insane over the last few days and I think my lungs are full of icing sugar from dusting 40 stollens three times. It has also been a delicious past few days with plenty of bakery treats being slightly too dark or misshapen and therefore available for bakery staff consumption. Mmm… weird shaped croissants taste just as good as perfectly shaped ones.

And have my dreams come true and is it snowing outside? No. But one of my favourite people, Stephen Fry, informed me last night on the Christmas special of QI that it only snowed in England on about 15 Christmas Days during the 20th century and therefore the likelihood that it would snow today is quite low… But it is raining so at least I know it is England.

I shall leave you with some glimpses of my Christmas. Thanks for reading – love to you all!

Poppyseed stollen

Poppyseed Stollen – so beautifully dusted and wrapped (I did that)

Forge Bakehouse

Christmas bread at Forge Bakehouse

christmas stollen

Mmm… marzipan stollen for Christmas morning tea

christmaswham

Waking up to Christmas with Wham!

bananachristmastree

Ben and my banana Christmas tree

Ice Water

Monday, December 17th, 2012

This morning while on my run I realised I never wrote about my morning-run experiences of last week when the temperatures dropped to below zero on some nights. Most mornings now when I get ready to head out, I check La Météo to see what the temperature is. If it is above six degrees I won’t bother with a jacket because after ten minutes of running I need to take it off. Anything below six and I will wear the jacket and anything below two requires extreme measures. I was hit with a bit of a conundrum last Thursday morning when I woke up to discover it was -2 degrees outside. What to wear?! Jacket and gloves are part of my usual kit but the day before I had found a head scarf I had been given as a complimentary gift for doing the 10km race last year. PERFECTO! I have since learnt that by covering your ears, you can keep in at least ten times as much body heat. I’m making these statistics up, but trust me – I was very pleased with my head scarf when I saw the ice floating on the canal.

It was so cool (both literally and Americanly.) I had already completed two kilometres when I started running along the eastern edge of the canal. I run past a movie cinema that looks on to the canal and there are always tourist boats in the water at that point. The canal water was beautifully still and then I noticed that along the edge of the canal and particularly in between the tourist boats, the canal water had frozen. It was very exciting times for this Australian who is learning so much about the physical properties of water, ice and snow.

I was able to survey the ice quite well for most of my run as I had to go reasonably slowly due to slippery conditions. There was a ROAD SAFETY ALERT out for all of the Parisians who freak out every time there is some sort of slightly-more-extreme-than-usual weather. My observations revealed to me that the canal had only frozen on one side – the eastern half. My little non-scientific brain attempted to work out why this was but failed. All I could boil it down to was water flow and the fact that there were boats. Not very technical so if anyone reading this can shed some light on this freezing phenomenon I would love to hear the REAL reason.

In a slight aside, there was snow in some areas outside of Paris and the television screens that usually tell you which line is down as you entered the metro had a huge warning for POTENTIAL SNOW that might affect the train lines. WARNING! WARNING! ALERT! ALERT! It’s worse than how nervous everyone in Perth gets every time there’s a sprinkle of rain – HAIL!

That was the coldest of my morning runs so far. I have now run in -2 and +38 degree temperatures. I’m not really sure which was worse… I wanted to die and regretted my decision more after the 38 degree run but running in the cold is rather painful too.

New Friends

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

It is a glorious morning in Paris today – crisp, cold and clear skies with the sun glistening off the frosty ground and trees. The birds are loving it, and I have just had some delightful visitors on my windowsill. I had to quickly close my window as one stuck his head inside but these little guys have been busy flittering about in the park and on my rather dead plants.

bird

Bonjour petit oiseau!

I hope they come and visit again soon.

 

My Latest Obsession

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

I have found something much healthier than cake and chocolate to become obsessed about lately – leaves. I can’t get over how magical Autumn leaves can be – the colours, textures, sounds, movements they make as they tumble through the air. I have spent a lot of the past few weeks staring out of my window as bursts of wind carry hundreds of flakes of yellow, orange, red and muted green, flashing through the air.

Autumn Leaves

My front yard is full of pretty leaves.

In the morning when I go for my run, I find sections of footpath that haven’t yet been cleaned up by the road sweepers and that are covered in a bed of leaves. My inner child squeals with delight (ok, it’s not my inner child, it’s just me) and I stomp and jump and skip through them. I love it when the breeze picks up as I pass beneath a group of trees and the leaves start fall around me. It’s a magical fairy land and I look around half expecting to see a prancing deer.

Autumn leaves

So many different colours.

It makes me feel sorry for us poor Australians and our lack of autumn and our fairly ordinary seasonal changes. I think we do summer quite well and Europe could learn a thing or two from us about sunshine and heat, but we really miss out in Autumn and Spring. It is becoming a bit too cold for my liking though, but they forecast potential “neige fondu” (wet snow or gross, awful sleet) for next week which is building up my excitement for a potential white christmas. Surely I can’t spend three Christmases in Europe without building a snowman once? This year I will be in Sheffield for Christmas so COME ON, ENGLAND! Show me how cold and gloomy you can get!

Leaves

My leaf collection from yesterday – sadly I had to put them in the bin as they wrinkled up and died (more)…

It is Coming

Monday, September 24th, 2012

The last week has seen the sudden arrival of Autumn. While there had been small signs that the seasons are changing – yellowing leaves, cooler evenings – it hasn’t been until the last seven or so days that it has become very obvious. Something like being slapped in the face with a wet fish, with just as much pain and wetness.

Last night I was eating dinner with some friends and heard the whistles of the garden-police ordering people to leave the park behind the Récollets. This happens every evening, the time changing throughout the year depending on when the sun sets. At the moment the park closes at 8.30pm and, up until recently, there would still be sunlight. Not last night. It was DARK. Sure, there was rain approaching and it was overcast, but it was also just DARK.

This morning my alarm went off at the usual time of 7.10am and as I opened my eyes my first thought was, “No… surely not… I must have set my alarm to go off an hour early.” But no. It was indeed time to get up but only for stupid humans who feel the need to go running every morning; the sun certainly wasn’t thinking about getting out of bed.

And so Becky and I went running in the dark (well, by 7.30am it was a bit lighter.) The weather today is fantastic – strong winds are pushing fluffy grey clouds through the sky at rapid speed, bringing showers of heavy rain. This did result in us getting wet on our run, but the winds were strong enough to push the clouds along so it didn’t last long. Plus running in the rain is very refreshing, even if you do look like a drowned rat at the end.

It is warm and humid today, which I love – it reminds me of Perth and the tropical storms that drift through on occasion. Every time there is a strong gust of wind, large chestnut shells are falling from the trees in the park and going CLUNK! and THWACK! as they hit the ground or ricochet off the metal fence. A great day to be inside.

Paris autumn sky

The sky earlier this morning.