Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Good, The Bad, And The Snow.

The Good.
I had an excellent experience with Knightsbridge Doctor's office in London this week. I called them on Tuesday to book an appointment for the family's medicals for the visa process. Not having any comprehension of how busy they were or how long it would take to be seen, I was dreading this call a little, especially since there were three of us needing appointments, they might not be able to just fit us in. I had my calendar and pencil in front of me and dialed the number. The woman that answered the phone was awesome! She asked if I had a day in mind, but I didn't, I just wanted to get in. She said her first available was only two weeks away, but it was first thing in the morning, so I asked for a mid day appointment, explaining that we'd like to travel down and back the same day. She offered one the next week at 1:10. She went over where we needed to go, which Tube station it was closest to, and what we needed to bring with us. I got off the phone smiling, and happy.

Nid and I discussed our options and decided that though the train was a little more expensive than the bus, it was worth it since we'd be going and coming the same day and saving by not getting a hotel. We'll look into the bus option when we go back for our interviews. We booked the train leaving just before 9am and arriving back in Leicester just after 9pm. It will be a long day, but in theory, depending on how long we're at the doctor's office, we'll have time to see a few things near there, and we're hoping to go to the Science Museum as well. The children have never been to London before, so we're hoping for some better weather than we've been having.

The Bad.
Actually, The Bad is The Snow.
I am normally someone who loves snow. SNOW. NOT ICE. SNOW. However, where we are, because of our elevation (kind of sunk in a little depression) we don't get much snow. I've tried to photograph it, but it's just about half an inch max. The ice however, it is easily a half an inch. Even before the snow came before the holidays, when the temperature dropped, the tops of the cars on the street looked like they'd been snowed on, the frost was so thick in the mornings. That's fine, doesn't affect me. But the ice on the sidewalks is killer.

I've seen some photos and read other blogs that are all talking about their inches of snow and it's so lovely. But the running theme is the ice. The UK just doesn't have enough machinery or supplies to deal with this. I've read that we (as a whole country) have had at least one of the coldest nights 30 in years. Just my luck, right?! Here is a satellite photo that I've seen all over:

That's pretty amazing, and it gives me chills just looking at it. We walk to the grocery store two to three times a week - because they don't use certain preservatives (or something) so things don't stay fresh very long - - this is a whole other blog topic! - and it is downright dangerous! I was questioning Nid the other day as we walked along about why no one shoveled or treated their sidewalks. Not even businesses do it, I was shocked. He thought it was the responsibility of the Council, not the individual owners. I asked if we slipped and got hurt if we could sue, but he didn't think that we could. Oh well, opportunity lost :(

Then I read something this morning talking about the difference between snow/ice clearance in the US and UK. Apparently, there is a chance that if you clear the walkway in front of your house, you open yourself up to a lawsuit if someone got hurt. It's a slim chance, they'd have to prove you maliciously wanted to hurt someone, but still, with a good lawyer a greedy person might be able to accomplish it. I couldn't believe it. I've had friends who had sidewalks and they had to have them clear within a certain number of hours after the snow stopped falling or they got fined. Here we get so very little actual accumulation, it wouldn't take more than a few scoops of rock salt to keep the ice and light snow away, but people just don't do it. As much as I don't like it, I fear for the children. They walk a mile to school each way. On sidewalks in the same condition as around here. It's dangerous.  Thousands of schools are closed across the country. Why are ours not? If they do not offer school buses, they need to think of the safety of the children.

I love this city, and I love this neighborhood. It's been a wonderful experience for me here. And I know that when we move and I have to go out in the cold and snow to shovel a path to the car I'm going to complain. Loudly and often, probably. But at least I'll feel confident that I won't likely break my leg or worse. There is something to be said for that. With only a half inch of snow, I feel completely housebound, and I don't like it!

If you'd like to know more about how the snow is affecting the rest of England here are some links:
Midwest to Midlands talks about gas rationing in her neck of the woods.
The sea is partially frozen in Dorset on the South coast of England.
The Scottish Highlands are nearly as cold as the South Pole.
Michelloui at Mid-Atlantic English has some pretty pictures of her area.
Over at The Bitchin' Wives Club, you can read about a school that ran out of oil so had to cancel school. For a week.

It's pretty crazy around here. And ironic that it's my first/last winter here. It's also pretty crazy that where I'm from in Virginia got record breaking snow (1903 I think) in December, ranging anywhere from 21 to 36 inches at friends' homes. What does it all mean? And has my move somehow brought it all into being? Because of course, the world DOES revolve around me. Seriously.

10 comments:

mastermute said...

Oh, Jenny, we don't sue eachother here in Europe... it's rare! And, we don't tip a lot either... Not even the paper boy, or the cashier at the cash and carry... nor the trash collectors...

/Johan

Nid said...

I hate snow. I hate snow more than anything in the universe. I'll never change my mind about it. That picture of England and the other countries is going to give me nightmares!

I'm going to Sweden next month!!! :|

mastermute said...

Oh, Nid, you'd better reconsider your trip then ;) We have snow! By the ton! And cold! Currently -15C

Nid said...

Johan, now you know how much I hate snow, you will be able to work out how much I like being your friend! :)

Jenny said...

Johan - I can't imagine a world where it's rare to sue someone. But then again, my world suffers because of it. Hospitals are so afraid of being sued they make doctors have kabillions of dollars of malpractice insurance which means prices go up and insurance companies can charge whatever they want and we have to accept it. It's a good part of the reason why the Health Care debate is such a mess right now.

Oh, and to join in the snow discussion. I've seen your photos. You take nice long walks in the snow. Snow. Not ice. So I'm good. And I can't WAIT to meet Tasha and Lewis! And you and Anna of course ;)

Michelloui said...

Thanks for the mention Jenny! Sounds like you're pretty busy still and this snow simply doesnt help, I know. ARGH!!! Im bored with it now. It might be different if we had stuff to make it easier like other snowbound countries (or Minnesota, where I grew up) but I know thats an unreasonable expectation for a country that rarely has snow. Bleh.

Christy said...

My neighborhood fines residents who don't shovel their walkways when it snows! You're from Virginia, but living in England? How cool is that? I grew up in Fairfax - my family still lives there, and I'm married to a Welshman. Nice to meet you!

Jenny said...

Michelloui - You are very welcome :) The ice if finally gone as of today (thanks to quite a bit of rain) at least on our daily paths, so I'm very happy about that.

Christy - Thanks for stopping by, so very nice to meet you as well. I have very much enjoyed reading your blog since I found it the other week. Yep, I moved to England to be with my Englishman. Very cool that you're from Fairfax. We'll be moving back to central Virginia next summer.

Brit Gal Sarah said...

Jenny, when I had my medical done it was in Birmingham! Do they not offer that anymore, it would be alot closer for you?

Jenny said...

Sarah - I wish it was offered there! Currently you can only get it done at Knightsbridge in London. They have two offices and luckily we got the one in Zone 1, so at least the Tube will be a little cheaper. It's a right pain!

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