Today, Sunday, it snowed. Snow is exciting because it provides a punctuation mark in the endless flow of similar looking days. It will be a reference point of time. “No, no, that was before it snowed,” or “Yes, that was the week after it snowed.”
It’s also a weekend we took not one but two walks.
Saturday, yesterday, was clear and sunny albeit cold, so we decided to do one of our ‘old’ walks from the summer and go up to Wood Street where we haven’t been for a few months now. We thought that was going to be the peak of the weekend’s excitement until it snowed on Sunday.
We bought a few things at the Turkish supermarket. They’ve changed their layout so we spent quite a bit of time looking at the new things they have – like the butcher, and the olive buckets. We also bought five beers at the hipster craft beer place (which we were surprised was open – but again, the definition of ‘essential’ seems to be a little fluid). We’re fond of porters and sours and found a few new ones we haven’t tried before including a Lassi Sour and a Sloe and Juniper sour which sound very interesting.
We walked through the park and considering it is an open space I didn’t feel terribly safe there due to the large number of people out and about (fair enough, sunshine is a rare commodity so you want to get out and enjoy it), but also the number of people who seemed to be having social get-togethers and picnics, sitting together on benches and eating food from the Saturday market, despite these kinds of gatherings not being allowed. Maybe they haven’t heard the radio ads about Covid – “If you break the rules, people will die.” I guess some people consider that a fair enough risk because it probably won’t be them who die. Yes it makes me angry but I can’t control what other people do so I just have to breathe and let it be.
(UK deaths this week have got to 97,300 – we will tip into 100,000 before next weekend and it breaks my heart to think of all those lives lost. Even more heart-breaking is the news about NHS staff being physically attacked and vilified on social media. Who the hell are these people who think they have the right to abuse people who work so hard to save lives?)
The park wardens had put up orange plastic barriers and tape around the skate park but really, did they expect the skater types to obey the rules? The tape had been ripped down and the barriers were piled up in the middle of the skater ramps and the whole area was busy with people on skateboards or kiddies on scooters or little bicycles.
The narrow park paths were full of people who weren’t making space when you passed them. The grassy areas were more like lakes, with a boggy smell coming from them and large flocks of gulls hanging about. The dog circle was having a late morning meeting, and a greyhound was playing “chase me” with a collie dog (the collie had no chance against the greyhound). Most of the time the greyhounds at the park are on leashes and trotting quietly, looking nervous, so it was impressive to see this one enjoying itself and running at speed. It was already running quite fast, but when the collie nearly caught up, it changed up a gear and really went for it, hardly touching the ground it was going so fast.
We weren’t planning to leave the house on Sunday, having already done a big walk on Saturday, but when it started snowing, then it was a race to put on heavy shoes and jackets and get out of the house. The light fluffy snow changed quickly to wet sticky snow that soaked into my jacket and gloves.
Walking in the snow made me think about my time in Moscow, which is where most of my experience of snow comes from. In fact the shoes I was wearing for the walk today I bought during my time in Moscow specifically to keep my feet warm in the sub-zero temperatures. I’m impressed they have lasted 16 years but they are proper cold weather shoes, and most of the time in London it doesn’t get cold enough to wear them.
My healthy eating focus hit its first snag as I had a day when I didn’t get my minimum 3 portions of veg. (Overall I’m doing pretty well with the fruit and veg thing, varying from the only-just-made-it 5 to a how-did-I-manage-that 10.) So my consequence was to spend half an hour cleaning the house instead of spending half an hour reading my book.
“But don’t you clean the house every week?” I am sure someone is asking. No, no I don’t. I hate cleaning. I am a slovenly housekeeper. I clean when I have to, or when people come visit. I might despair at the layers of dust of picture frames or the tangles of hair and dust that gather in corners, but I don’t do anything about them. My reasoning is this – I work, and Husband does not work. Husband does not clean. So if Husband does not clean and is content to live with dust, then why should I spend my precious non-work time cleaning? So as a consequence of not taking care of my health, I had to spend some time taking care of the house. A better consequence, and I will do this next time, will be to go to the corner shop to buy some vegetables and make myself a pot of healthy vegetable soup to eat to make sure I do get my vegetable allowance in.
On the subject of cleaning, I saw this story about the garbage island in Serbia’s Lake Potpecko in the news this week, and it brought a little choke of horror to me, seeing the piles of plastic in this lake. But what can people do if they live in a country with no proper recycling facilities, and where city water supplies are not safe to drink, meaning you have to buy bottled water? I don’t have an answer, but this kind of man-made but entirely avoidable pollution of the environment really makes me frustrated.
The cold and grey weather this week has given us plenty of time to read, not just on the weekend but also some nights we’ve sat and read rather than watch TV. And for some reason I have picked up The Museum of Innocence again. I stopped reading this book by Orhan Pamuk in 2019 because I was so fed up with the central character and his ridiculous obsession. But now, in the quiet grey of January 2021, I’ve picked it up again, and have carried on reading. I still find the central character annoying, but it’s the glimpses of things going on behind him that I’m focussing on. He describes a walk he took through the streets of Istanbul and I could picture the route he took, from Taksim Square down to Gülhane Park. He talks about the coup in the late 70s and the impact that had on life. He describes in detail the apartment where his love lives with her husband and her parents and I can clearly see the ceramic dog ornament on top of the TV.
Yes, I’m coming around to this book again and I may actually finish it this time. Chapter 69, “Sometimes”, gives me hope.