Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Our Progress around the Sceptr'd Isle - Part 1

The run-up to the celebration of the birth of the Baby Jesus is the most stressful time of year. Many preparations, jostling with the crowds to buy presents that must all be given on precisely one day, hearing Last Christmas and Merry Xmas, War is Over played everywhere for weeks* - but for us, the greatest stress is the known unknown of holiday travel. From seven-hour delays at fog-bound airports to trying to inspect a hire car hidden under three inches of snow, our annual pilgrimage (London-Manchester-Derbyshire-London) is ever a hostage to the elements.

Yesterday, our flight to London was extremely uncomfortable as we came into land, flying directly into a gale that made the plane pitch and roll violently. And outside the airport, waiting for the bus to take us to the car hire depot, sheets of rain lashed horizontally against us. The news on the radio was bad - the M6 was stationary between junctions 11 and 13; there were hardly any trains running north from Euston or south from Victoria. 150,000 homes were without power across the south-west of England. Despite the winds and intense, heavy rain (non-stop for 20 hours in some parts), it was warm, with 10C in London. The bad weather in the UK even made it into the Polish media... (see report here in Polish)

But after a night at my parents in Ealing, we ate a hearty breakfast and set off at the crack of noon towards Babcia Wanda's in Manchester. Departing under leaden skies, by the time we reached Stokenchurch on the M40, the weather front passed and the rest of the journey (with a showery interlude south of Birmingham) took place under the bluest of skies. Below: Eddie's photo of the M40 in Oxfordshire - not a cloud to be seen.

Christmas Eve on a tropical island
Having said that, there were plenty of flooded fields on either side of the motorway, especially in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. And the blue skies and sunshine are temporary - more wind and rain expected on Friday and Saturday.

Motorway services in the UK have poshed up; the one near Warwick has a Waitrose (Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand's Marlborough - a family favourite - £20 for two) and Burger King selling veggie burgers (which are sadly not on the menu in Poland).

So far so good - tomorrow - across the Peak District from Manchester to Duffield.

* It's difficult to imagine no religion, John, when you incessantly remind us to have a very merry Christmas each year.

This time two years ago:
We flew into Manchester that year...

This time last year:

This time four years ago:
Washing the snow away

This time five years ago:


student SGH said...

Same weather as this snapped is witnessed in Warsaw. Yesterday temperature topped +9C and the capital enjoyed sunshine from dawn to dusk. Today at 9:00 a.m. weather station at Okecie airport reports +6C and only some little billows scud through the sky.

Happy Christmas to your nearest and dearest,


Wilkbury said...

Merry Christmas to you an all your family!