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My Diary/Blog For the Month of December 2010

Friday 31st December 2010
08:23 GMT

  The temperature remains a couple of degrees above zero this morning. In fact the BBC reckon it is as high as 5 C, and will reach the heady heights of 6 C by mid afternoon. If there was a bit of sunshine it would be almost pleasant, but the day will remain overcast, and even misty later on. Apart from the mist, if it happens, today sounds like it will be very similar to yesterday, although I have a gut feeling that today might just be a tiny bit brighter than yesterday.

 It seems surprising that with these still rather low temperatures it seems rather easy to keep the house warm. There were many times yesterday when I turned off all the heating, and a few times when I even had some windows open to get some fresh air into the place.

 I felt particularly warm yesterday afternoon, but that was the product of physical labour. Specifically it was all the mattress handling I was doing. My new mattress was due to be delivered between 2 and 4pm, but it actually turned up early. By 2pm (and maybe a few seconds) I had the new mattress in place complete with sheets, pillows and duvet.

 With that done I made a start in dismantling the old mattress. It was easier than I thought. Using a sharp box-cutter type knife I made just a few good slashes to completey remove the outer cover and it's kapok stuffing. Under that there were sheets of what looked like recycled foam rubber (one on each side of the mattress), and below that a sheet of very coarse felt.

 I had enough room in the wheelie bin to put in one of the sheets of foam rubber, plus the entire outer covering. What's left is half the size of the original, and is mostly fresh air. Once the wheelie bin has been emptied I reckon I will be able to dispose of the rest in one go. I will, of course, have to pull the wire frame and springs apart, but I tested one corner of the mattress, and found that to be fairly easy. Although it is easy to do, it will not be that quick because each spring is attached to the wire frame by a sort of crimp that needs prising apart.

 Traditionally, my wheelie bin is emptied on a Thursday, but it didn't happen yesterday. I am relieved to find, that even as I type this, the bins are being emptied right now. I was worried that I would have to wait another week because I already have a bit of a smelly bin in the kitchen waiting to be emptied.

 I think I now know what I am going to be doing today - completing the dismantling of the mattress, and stuffing it all in the wheelie bin. This is so much more satisfactory than paying 39 for the old mattress to be disposed of. Once the mattress has gone I fear it will be time to do some serious hoovering around where I dismantled it. Unfortunately I am doing it at the top of the stairs, and I really ought to hoover the whole of the stairs - I job I really hate doing !

 While it is occasionally nice to come over all house proud, and I suppose I shouldn't let anything come before it, it is possibly that the enormity of hoovering the stairs may finally overcome my grey weather inspired agraphobia. Perhaps I will go out somewhere, and considering how stiff I have become from days of inactivity it would be a good idea. If I do go out I think it would have to be to the seaside where the wide open views would be a lot brighter than dank woods. It probably won't happen though.

 In theory I shouldn't be complaining about feeling stiff and aching after sleeping on my new mattress, but it is, as I predicted, going to take a bit of getting used to. My body is trained to sleep in a sort of U shape, and last night, sleeping with my buttocks at the same level as my back felt unusual. I didn't actually get a very good nights sleep in the end, but only a proprtion of that can be blamed on the mattress. The extreme sugar high I got from eating some chocolate also played it's part. Some of that "high" was feeling too hot initially, and then too cold later on. A good 5 mile walk, if I could manage it these days, would be very helpful in levelling off my sugar levels. So will I, or won't I ? I have no idea !
Thursday 30th December 2010
07:47 GMT

  It's a bit damp outside, but I don't think it is raining. The most surprising thing is the temperature. It's not what you would call warm by any stretch of the imagination, but at the same time it is not freezing cold. I had my bathroom window open all night, and this morning it didn't feel like I was going to die from exposure as has been the case in recent days (and that was with the window tightly closed all day and night). Now if only it wasn't so gloomy outside it could almost be a day to enjoy. There is still some slight hope that the day will not be that bad. Sunrise is still about ten minutes away as I write these words, and maybe it won't be as bad as I fear once the sun is up.

 This small rise in temperature into consistent positive figures did start a few days ago, but it was not until yesterday afternoon that I began to appreciate it, or alternatively, it started to affect me. I felt a mild urge to do start some pre spring cleaning. First of all it was just easy to do, lazy sort of stuff. More specifically it was doing a bit of housekeeping on my server. I did some backups, and installed the latest updates.

 Later on I felt a totally irrational urge to do some tidying up in my living room. To the untrained eye it still looks a total mess, but I know that some areas of it are vastly improved, and maybe, just maybe, I may try and improve upon that today. Of course the real centre of attention today is the impending delivery of my new mattress.
A flying mattress
A flying mattress - yesterday
 I am, admittedly, putting a lot of faith in the idea that it will be delivered today, and that faith might be mistaken. The text message saying it would be delivered today came through the day after I was promised a phone call, but at least they did contact me. Now I have to wait for a phone call, or maybe another text message to say what two hour slot has been allocated for my delivery.

 It may take awhile to get used to not having to dodge the sharp ends of the broken springs, or falling down the big black saggy hole in the middle of the mattress, but I am looking forward to trying the new mattress out tonight. I fear it will feel very weird sleeping with a straight spine, but ultimately I will get used to it, and maybe I might even feel less twisted and stiff in the mornings.

 I may sound a bit over enthusiastic about my new mattress, but there is a reason for it. Even though I have now been writing all this stuff here for about the recommended life of a mattress, 7 years, it is the first time I have had an opportunity to write about new mattresses because the old mattress is about 14 years old (as far as I can guess). That probably explains the sorry state it is in !

 Yesterday afternoon I listened to a special programme on Radio Caroline about John Lennon. It was both good and bad. I didn't like the way each dj contributor to the programme was announced with a loud intrusive jingle, but otherwise I did like the content. It was a mixture of people talking about the day he was shot, news clips, and bits of interview with John Lennon himself. Some regarded Lennon as a bit weird, but I think his philosophy was sound. None of this "my god is better than your god" crap, but just try to be nice to people.

 All my plans for yesterday came to nothing. I had already decided that a walk in the foggy woods was unlikely 10 seconds after thinking of it, and even my plan to take the old laptop over to Jodi didn't happen. She went out to the sales in the west end (or somewhere) in the afternoon. Today you can probably guess the most significant of my plans - wait for my message about the mattress delivery, and then wait for the delivery after that.

........I was just about to click the "publish" button when my phone started to ring. My new mattress should be delivered sometime between 2 and 4pm !
Wednesday 29th December 2010
08:00 GMT

  This is what the BBC weather forecast says about today ; "A grey and damp day on the whole, with widespread fog at first, only slowly thinning in one or two places to allow occasional brightness; but most places will stay dull with a risk of some light drizzle at times." For once they really have it right. It is very foggy outside, and it is certainly grey and damp. The only positive attributes for today are that there will be hardly any wind, and the temperature will be about the highest we have seen in ages - about 7 C.

 Although the recent days, and most particularly today, have been hardly the stuff to inspire poets (except sad ones), there is one who has had a small bit of inspiration, and that is Smudge. After a long period of extreme reluctance to go outside, she has been out exploring her territory several times recently. She has still found it neccesary to study the great outdoors from the back doorstep for several minutes, but once she takes the plunge she seems more than happy to spend an hour or two outside (but is even more happy to come back in again !).

 While Smudge was happy to go out and do her cat things yesterday, I was more reluctant. I did go to Tesco in the morning, but I found my visit disappointing. There was hardly anything that interested me that had been reduced in price, and I came away with comparatively little compared to the usual amount of stuff I lug home.

 I finally received some news about my new mattress. Instead of the call I was expecting I got a text message saying that the delivery will happen tomorrow, and that I would be contacted before 10am to say what two hour slot my delivery  would take place in. This is indeed good news, and I am looking forward to trying out the new mattress tomorrow night. I am also sort of looking forward to my attempt to strip down the old mattress into smaller, disposable, parts.

 I am not sure what I will be doing today. I don't feel that bad, and yet I don't feel that good. I know that the grey fogginess does not inspire me to go out, and yet I confess a slight curiosity to experience a walk through some foggy woods. I think that if I had some woods on my doorstep I would be tempted to take a quick stroll in the fog, but I don't think I can raise the enthusiasm to get a bus or train to, for instance, Beckenham Place Park (which is probably the easiest bit of woodland to get to).

 If I don't go for a walk in the fog I may still go out to deliver an old laptop to Jodi's flat. Her internet connection has been dead for over a week now at her mum's place, and she doesn't even have a computer at her flat. My ancient old Dell Inspiron 2500 laptop is, with Linux installed on it, and coupled to a mobile broadband dongle, just good enough to surf most web pages, and is fine for email. It is not too happy with web pages with embedded video, but still just about manages to play the video in a stuttery way. Videos played locally off the hard disk are fine though.

 If I do go out to see Jodi it will not be until this afternoon. She keeps different hours to normal people, and I doubt she will be getting up for another three hours yet. I must admit that I could easily go back to bed for another hour myself. I don't know if I'll sleep, but I think I want to try for it.
Tuesday 28th December 2010
09:00 GMT

  Once upon a time the weather forecasters said it was going to snow today. At around 1am I woke up and heard a noise. Looking out the windows I saw rain ! A more up to date forecast says that it is going to be at least 3 or 4 degrees today, and it will be grey, miserable, damp, and generally very horrible ! I can confirm they got the last bit right. Right now it is all grey and soggy outside, although I don't think it is actually raining right now(unless it is fine drizzle that is hard to see without venturing outside). I feel sure that this is the pattern for the rest of the day.

 Yesterday was cold, but not icy cold, and the sky was mostly grey, but a much lighter grey than today. I didn't find it that inspriring, but it wasn't so bad that I didn't pursue my shopping trips. First of all I went to Dreamland to order a new mattress. It wasn't my first choice, but the place I wanted to go to was closed. Many of the mattresses in Dreamland were a long way out of my price range, but I found one that was in it. I thought the delivery charge was a bit steep, and the charge for disposing of my old mattress also rather steep.

 Obviously I had to pay for delivery, but I'll be doing my own mattress disposal. My plan for that is to strip off the cover and padding leaving the springs and metal framework seperate. The non-metal bits should go into the wheelie bin without any trouble. Then I'll have to slowly start breaking up the metalwork. It will be a long process. Some bits will need to be cut with a hacksaw, but the springy bits should snap by bending them very tightly (many times !). Eventually I should be able to dispose of all the broken up metal in the wheelie bin too. Of course I can arrange the council to pick up the mattress and dispose of it, and I think it is a free service, but it means a lot of mucking around with faceless bureaucrats to arrange it. I think I prefer my way.

 Right now I have no idea when the new mattress will be delivered. I was promised it would be before I go back to work in a weeks time, and I was promised that I would get a phone call yesterday afternoon to say when delivery will take place. That phone call never came, and so I conclude that Dreamland are just a bunch of shysters. It is well within the grounds of possibility that I will be back in their shop on Friday demanding my money back, but maybe I am being too pessimistic.

 My other bit of shopping was to check out the Lidl supermarket. As some who have gone before me have said, it is very similar to Aldi, but there are some differences. For one thing everything is out on display including the booze. Aldi tend to keep such things as spirits, and more expensive small items in display cases that you have to ask the non-existent staff to open for you. Actually that could be a good thing because it has saved me from temptation on many occasions.

 As well as a general sample of Lidl's stuff there were two specific items I wanted to buy and test. I can confirm that Smudge is quite happy with their catfood, and I think it is 1p cheaper than in Aldi. The other thing I was specifically keen to test was their house brand diet cola. It goes under the rather silly brand name of Toppers, and is actually rather nice. It makes for a far better alternative to diet Coca Cola than Aldi's offering. The Aldi stuff is nice when chilled, but not quite as good when at room temperature. Lidl's diet cola is actually still nice when at room temperature, and even after it has been left for a while and some of the fizz has gone. If it wasn't for the fact that Lidl is about twice as far away as Tesco or Aldi, I would shop there more often, but it is just a little too far to be lugging multiple bags of shopping home.

 One thing I didn't do yesterday was to see what Tesco has in their sale. That is something I think I'll be doing this morning. I had planned on going out for a medium length walk today, but with it being so awful outside I am putting that off until another day. Maybe I'll go for a quick walk around the park, but even that seems unlikely under this dreary grey sky.
Monday 27th December 2010
08:12 GMT

  It doesn't feel to be quite as cold this morning. I haven't actually been outside, but when I opened the back door for Smudge to go out I didn't feel the gonad shrivelling blast of icy air that has been a feature of this ritual for many days now. The reason for this seems to be a thick blanket of cloud. As far as I know it will be dry today, but it seems unlikely we will see any sunshine.

 Yesterday was not as cold as previous days - at least with hardly any wind it felt that way. In reality it was still cold enough, even with the few hours of bright sunshine we had, that the residual pockets of ice and snow have still not completely melted away. Tomorrow we are due another fall of snow, and with the ground still so cold it will almost certainly settle. It won't hang around for long though. If the forecast for that snow bears any relation to reality, then there is the possibility that the day after that may be correct. If so then we can look forward to the temperature rising to as high as 9 C, and that is almost going to feel warm compared to recent temperatures.

 I have managed a mixture of productivity and laziness over the weekend. Most significant in terms of productivity was doing three loads of laundry, and of cleaning up Smudge's litter tray, and the area around it. That job was well overdue because Smudge has very poor aim, and the smell was getting to be a bit like a bad mens toilet ! In terms of laziness I have watched many old episodes of The Simpsons, and done some reading as well. It's hard to account for the rest of my time.

  I can account for a few more hours yesterday afternoon. I met Jodi for a drink in the local Wetherspoons pub. I felt considerably better than when I was in a pub on Friday night. There was still one problem though. I seem to have lost my appreciation for ales, or at least I didn't appreciate the two pints of ale I had yesterday. Maybe because they were seasonal brews I was expecting them to be more wonderful than they were. After two pints I went on to bottled beer. I had two bottles of Tuborg festive beer, and they were not bad.

 After four drinks on a partially empty stomach I felt very hungry, and my will power was at an all time low. So after seeing Jodi off on her bus I went into the fried chicken shop and bought a mini bucket of chicken and chips. I treated Smudge to a generous portion of chicken, and I ate the rest. While it was very nice, it was not a wise thing to do. For the rest of the day I felt rather bloated, and even blinking felt like a lot of effort ;-)

 Today I have stuff to do, and I won't be doing any serious eating until it is all done. Even then I want to try and eat relatively lightly because I have a possible plan for tomorrow that will need a bit of extra energy. Today, or at least this morning, is shopping day.

 I am hoping that Tesco will have some items on sale at reduced prices, hopefully very reduced, but maybe that is a bit too optimistic for Tesco. In particular I will be looking out for gift packs of booze that in past years have been reduced in price to something close to their actual worth. After a trip to Tesco I feel I want to investigate the local Lidl supermarket. There are three things in particular that I want to buy from there. The first is some macadamia nuts in their shells. I have never seen them before, but Jodi reports that her local Lidl had them on sale. The other two items on my shopping list is to try Lidl's house brand diet cola, and to get some house brand cat food for Smudge to try.

 Before these supermarket trips I have one higher priority. I want to see if I can buy a new mattress, and more specifically get it delivered sometime this week while I am off work. There is a small bed shop in Catford Mews, and although I suspect they may be a bit more expensive than the bigger chains, I am hoping that they will be far more flexible when it comes to deliveries. One thing I am not really expecting is for them to offer a matress disposal service. If that is the case then I am going to have fun disposing of my old mattress. I have a theory that I can get rid of it in the wheelie bin. The inside of the mattress is mostly fresh air, and so when cut up and compressed it should take up quite a small space - in theory ! I will be relying on another theory that says that the springs should be brittle enough that they are snappable when bent very sharply between two pairs of pliers. If thay are not I will have trouble on my hands !

 Assuming that I can constrain my appetite enough not to overdo things today, I should feel mobile enough to go out for a walk tomorrow. What I have in mind is a walk of several miles in the snow - assuming it does snow. There are a lot of variables in my idea that I have no control over. Whether it snows or not, and how much there is if it does is one unknown variable. The other biggest unknown is whether the trains will manage to keep running because I am hoping that I will be able to fulfil a warped desire of mine to go to the seadide in the snow. With no trains running I may have to just do a short walk around the park, but maybe I might make it to Beckenham Place Park for a walk in the woods there. Before all that I had better make a start on doing stuff today !
Sunday 26th December 2010
10:09 GMT

 At last ! The sun has returned. It is a bright sunny morning, but it is also a freezing cold morning. There is even frost on the wheelie bin, and just outside is a small pile of icy snow brushed off a neighbours car. I am sure that one fanciful weather forecast from a few days ago suggested it might snow again today. That seems unlikely, but it is certainly cold enough, and cold enough that it seems like the last patches of ice and snow leftover from the week before will never melt away.

 It may have been my imagination, but last Friday afternoon seemed unfeasibly cold, although it could have had something to do with the state I was in. After work, which finished earlier than usual, I joined a couple of workmates for a few beers. I had three pints of Chech lager, and although I didn't feel more than a tiny bit drunk, I did end up with a most unpleasant hangover a few hours later.

 It was after I got home that I felt really dreadful and shivery cold. I was due to go out in the evening so I didn't want to have more than a snack to eat, but with hindsight I should have had a can or two of hot soup. That would have warmed me up, and yet not left me feeling full like the dinner I would have otherwise liked to have eaten.

 As the time approached for me to go out I was still feeling bad, and not even a big slug of scotch seemed to offer that much help. I was going out to see Chain play in The British Queen pub in Locksbottom that is a 40 minute ride on a bus away. Under different circumstances I would have chosen to stay in, but my 5 entry ticket had been bought for me by the band, and I felt a certain obligation to go. Besides which, the alternative was to stay at home feeling miserable as well as horrible.

 At 7pm I wrapped up warm, and went to get my bus. The bus route starts just around the corner from here, and ends opposite the pub. So I didn't have much walking in the cold to do, and very soon I was on a cold bus heading for the pub. To add to the discomfort of sitting on a cold bus I stupidly sat on a seat right over the rear wheels. On some roads the vibration nearly rattled my fillings out !

 I arrived at the pub just as Chain were setting up, and ordered myself a beer. At first the pub was not too crowded, and I began to feel a bit better. Once the band started to play I did enjoy myself, but all the time more and more people crammed into the pub. I don't know how many people were in the pub, but with only a fixed amout of tickets available it must have been how the landlord planned it. It is quite possible that there were 200 people in there, and at 5 a ticket the landlord made a cool 1000 just for letting people in the door. I think it would have been better if he had been a little less greedy and issued less tickets for a more comfortable experience. I will certainly be avoiding that pub next year.

 Chain's playing was really considering they were breaking in a new drummer. Guy, the new drummer sounded competent, but he is young, and still has some way to go before he can match the perfection of Bob the retired drummer. I was amused when Steve, the bass guitarist, had to sort of mime the ending of one song to Guy so he didn't miss his cue and continuing drumming after the rest of the band had stopped.

 After the first set was over, and the waiting for the band to take to the stage again set in, I became increasingly uncomfortable with the rush-hour-on-a-train like overcrowding. There were only a few reasons why being there was better than being on a tube train at 5pm. One reason was the glass of scotch in my hand, and the other was seeing Jo (lead singer) putting on her angel accessories.
Jo the angel
 With hindsight, "angel accessories" does suggest more than a halo and boa, but it looked good anyway, and with her Angel perfume she smelled good too !

 Once the band started playing again I made a difficult decision. I really would have liked to hear more, but I am just not very good at partying, and I was hating the cramped conditions. So even though I was promised a lift back to Catford if I made it to the end (sometime around, or even after 1am), I decided to quietly slip away and get the 11pm bus back to Catford.

 Once back home I decided it would finally be safe for me to have some dinner. I had already part prepared it, and all it needed was to be warmed up. It was a sttange time to have dinner, and in some ways it was a strange sort of dinner. It consisted of smoked Polished sausages with baked beans. After wolfing down a large quantity of that I finally felt much better, and went to bed feeling OK.

 I had more sausage yesterday, and it was sausage in the singular, but it was rather a large one. It was a South African peri-peri flavoured sausage that I ate with roast shallots, roast tomatoes, and roast new potatoes. Basicaly I just threw the whole lot in the oven, sprinkled the vegetables with olive oil, and let it cook by itself. I have never cooked new potatoes like that before, and they came out rather nice like a sort of cross between mini baked potatoes and roast potatoes. Considering all that I could have eaten yesterday, I consider that my eating was quite moderate, although it was still far more than is good for me.

  Having said that, I don't feel too bad this morning. Maybe if I had to go to work I would feel far worse, but for lazing around in the warm I feel just fine. Later on will come a test of just how good, or how bad I feel. Sometime, hopefully very early in the afternoon, but more realistically between 2pm and 3pm, I should be popping out to have a drink with Jodi in the Catford Wetherspoons. In preparation for that I have tried not to eat too much - but I have already failed. I would have done far better having a small, but proper breakfast of some kind. Instead I have had a nibble on this, and a bit on that, and I suspect that the cumulative result is that I have eaten more than just one small breakfast. I still have several hours to digest all I have eaten, and if I can just avoid any more I should be able to sink a few pints comfortably.
Saturday 25th December 2010
John Lennon
Friday 24th December 2010
08:12 GMT
 
  The sky was relatively clear last night, and I am quite surprised that the temperature didn't drop that far. It is most definitely cold outside, maybe just below zero, but I don't think any colder than that. Since arriving here at Earlsfield the the sky looks even clearer. I am looking forward to some cold winter sunshine today - if the sky can keep clear for long enough. I am sure that the weather forecast suggested a tiny chance of a dusting of snow sometime today, but if any snow does fall it is more likely that it will fall more towards Kent than London.

 I arrived home from work last night in a mixture of feeling furious and very depressed. My usual train, plus the one after it from Waterloo East were cancelled. It is even possible that the one after that was cancelled too, but I took the first train to London Bridge where there is also the chance of a train coming out of Cannon Street station - there was, and it was shown as being a ten car train. The reality was that it was only a five car train that turned up, and very soon it became crush loaded.

 In some ways I should have been more calm about the situation because things were not as bad as they could have been, and having slept on it and calmed down further I can explain without resorting to the most offensive, and disgusting "Anglo Saxon" words I can think of. However, use your imagination to add copious amounts of swearing, of the very strongest possible kind, to the following narrative.

 Things were not as bad because ; The usual smelly person was only a bit offensive. The idiot with the headphones on too loud was playing something that didn't have an intensely annoying disco beat. The children were not wailing at the top of their voices, and there were only two retards, who should have been sterilised at birth, forcing their gigantic prams into an already full carriage instead of three. Even so, by the time the train arrived at Catford Bridge I wanted to kill, and maim, rip off arms, and beat people to death with the wet ends. If I had a spare Lancaster bomber, and something very big and explosive invented by Barnes Wallis, I would surely have caused some mayhem at various properties used by SouthEastern Trains.

 When I arrived home, with my blood pressure at Hiroshima levels, and my rage levels somewhat above that of a Tasmanian Devil on crack cocaine, I thought I would investigate the calming effects of some dark chocolate. I had two little (roughly credit card sized) bars of that, and I don't think it did any good at all. What it did do was to make me a little more careful about what I ate afterwards. That was two cans of tomato soup, and one can of (alleged) mild chicken curry. The latter was so insubstantial that it was more like soup anyway. Later on I thought "to hell with it" and munched my way through a packet of toffee flavoured mixed nuts (which were rather nice).

 I went to bed quite early last night, and managed some good solid sleep until about 3am when I woke up for no special purpose. After that my sleep was very disturbed and intermittent. The only time I seemed to fall into a deep sleep was 15 minutes before my alarm went off ! I woke up feeling awful. I was cold, aching, stiff, and just about every other horrible way to feel. It did not make me feel very enthusiastic about going to work, nor for standing in a freezing cold bathroom shaving, shampooing, and showering, but somehow I did all those things. Now, here I am at work freshly cleaned from the tips of my toes to the tips of my split ends, and I don't feel too bad, or at least I think I'll live.

 Hopefully today, or more specifically, the working day will be a lot earlier than usual. The plan is that a couple of us go to the pub for lunch, and then quietly slip away afterwards. It will be nice to get home well before it gets dark for a change, and quite useful too, because I have stuff to do at home.

 I am not sure what, exactly, I have to do when I get home, but most of it will be in preparation for going out again. Tonight sees Chain playing in The British Queen pub in Locksbottom. It is supposed to be a sort of xmas eve party with the band playing, but I am going to do my best to treat it as just another gig - which I shall enjoy. If I stop to consider it is a party I will not enjoy it. On the whole I find parties deeply depressing, and perhaps the depression is made worse by all the effort in trying to mask my boredom and alienation.
Thursday 23rd December 2010
09:02 GMT
 
  It was very cold overnight, and this morning many cars were covered with frost (and some still had remnants of the snow on them in Catford). The temperature is going to struggle to get above zero today, and all the while an icy wind is making it feel much colder than it actually is. It is possible that we might get a bit of snow today, but the forecasters only say it could be a very light dusting - maybe today, or maybe tomorrow. What we won't see is any sunshine until, maybe, xmas day. After that we may get back to blizzard conditions.

 It is rather pleasing that the trains are almost back to normal. Going home last night went to text book timings, and although there was trouble with some points in the St Johns area it didn't affect my train this morning (unless you count it being 30 seconds late). With more and more people taking time off work for holidays etc, the trains are starting to empty out. This morning I was in a very lazy mood, and didn't leave home until late. I aimed for, and caught the 07:32 train. As far as I can recall it would normally be packed, but I had no trouble getting a seat this morning.

 If I ignore the cold and stiffness I felt when I got up, and the long time it seemed to take before I thawed out and was ready to go to work, I could say that I feel OK this morning. I partly attribute that to my dinner last night. It was a bit experimental, and turned out to be a lot better than I was expecting. I simply cooked some long grain rice with (the contents of) a can of red kidney beans together with a very healthy (or unhealthy ?) dollop of Chinese garlic and chilli sauce. I guess it was pretty similar to the peas and rice that the Caribean comunity seem to like. (I think the peas they use are not the green garden type peas, but more bean like peas. Perhaps pigeon peas ?). Apart from the garlic and chilli sauce, the two main ingredients, rice and beans, are often handed out as famine relief foods (at least I think they are, but I could well be wrong). If they just slipped in some garlic and chilli sauce, those famine victims would be lucky enough to be eating really tasty food !
Wednesday 22nd December 2010
08:53 GMT
 
  The thaw continues, but it is more advanced here in Earlsfield. In Catford I am guessing it is around one degree, and maybe two in Earlsfield. I have no idea what the weather will be like today. The sky is very grey right now, but it doesn't feel like it will rain, nor does it feel like the sun will burst through at any time. I think it is just going to be cold and grey.

 Yesterday we did have a brief bit of cold sunshine, but during the afternoon it started to rain. It started off more like a misty spray, and then towards the evening it progressed to very light drizzle. On a hot day it would have been most refreshing, but last night it was just another unpleasantness to endure. The cold was unpleasant to the body, but the dark grey slush laying everywhere was even more unpleasant on the eye.

 I didn't go straight home after work, but called in at The Catford Ram to pick up my ticket for the gig on xmas eve from Chris (guitarist from Chain). I had warned Iain that I would be popping in there, and sure enough I found him propping up the bar when I arrived. After two pints I left Iain to continue drinking, and I went home to heat up, and consume the dinner I precooked the night before.

 My dinner was a sort cross between a stew and chinese stir fried dish. I stewed a couple of new potatoes, a couple of skinless chicken thighs, a packet of ready prepared stir fry vegetables, and a whole heap of Chinese garlic and chilli sauce. I must confess I was rather pleased with the way it came out, although at around 1am this morning my digestive system may not have been quite so pleased with it. There is nothing worse than having to keep getting out of a nice warm bed to go and sit on a freezing cold toilet seat three times in the night when you really want to maximise the amount of sleep you are getting  (and keep warm) !

 This morning I feel a little empty, but not too bad. It may well be rather good that I felt a bit empty. I had an interesting journey into work. I arrived at the station just before 7am ready to catch the 07:04 train. That train was cancelled, and I had to wait an extra 15 minutes on a cold damp platform for the next train. That train's destination is Cannon Street, and I have to change trains at London Bridge to get to Waterloo East. So after enduring a cozy, but far from "sardine can" conditions, ride to London Bridge I changed platforms and got on a train to Waterloo East.

 The only problem was that the train had failed and wasn't going anywhere ! After we had been waiting on the train for some time with nothing happening we finally got the order to change trains to a train on the other side of the platform. The trains from London Bridge to Charing Cross via Waterloo East are usually less than half full after dropping off most of the passengers at London Bridge, but with, in effect, all the passengers from three trains all getting onto one it was a little bit on the full side. If I had no stood my ground, and pig-headedly refused to stray too far from the doors it is possible I may have not been able to get off until the train emptied out at Charing Cross. Happily, but staying near the doors I had no problems, and the rest of my journey into work was uneventful aprt from running well over half an hour late !
Tuesday 21st December 2010
08:50 GMT
 
 It is surprising the difference a few miles can make. When I started out for the station this morning, the snow was squeaky dry underfoot, but here in Earlsfield it is all nasty wet slush. The temperature in Catford is most probably about the same as in Earlsfield, and is slightly above zero. The big difference between the two places is that we had another inch or two of snow fall in Catford last night, but there is little evidence of that in Earlsfield.

 Today is forecast to be very grey and overcast. That is not very cheery, and the general gloom is made worse by all the nasty grey slush on the roads and pavements as we have a temporary thaw. The small increase in temperature is to be welcomed in theory, but while it may not be bitingly cold out, it is still unpleasantly cold. Tonight it could be a different story. The weather forecasters can't seem to come up with a consistent theory, but one possibility is for more snow either tonight or tomorrow. Even if it doesn't actually snow on xmas day there should still be some snow lurking somewhere.
two snowmen
 I took the above picture of the two snowmen on my way home from work last night. They are just outside the gates of the business centre, and they are still reasonably intact this morning.

 Getting home last night was not that straightforward, but for once it was not SouthEastern Trains who let me down. This time it was South West Trains who caused me some minor grief. They have been unable to run services on some of their short branch lines, and it is the trains from these branch lines that come together as they approach London that contribute to the amazing frequency of trains from Earlsfield - except last night they didn't ! I had an unprecedented wait of over 10 minutes to get a train back to Waterloo, and that arrived at about the same time as my train home should have been arriving over at Waterloo East. The next train from Waterloo East should have been due at 16:42, and actually arrived just two minutes late. It was also remarkably non crowded. Getting back to Catford just 20 minutes late, and having time for a relaxed smoke at Waterloo should give me little grounds to moan, but I am moaning anyway !

 I didn't go straight home from the station, but went home via Tesco. As well as the few things I planned to buy, including the the items I added to my mental shopping list on the way to Catford (like the hot cooked chicken), I felt an unreasoned urge to buy some more rice and pasta. I don't know if in some deep, dark, recess of my mind there were  plans being made for a winter famine or something, but both rice and pasta, being long life dried foods, would be handy to have around if civilisation collapses tomorrow. I didn't really buy enough to last for the 1000 year rise and fall of civilisation as we know it, but I did buy enough for a few days.

 Tonight I will not be going straight home again. I will be calling into the pub for a pint or two, and to collect my ticket for the gig I am going to (weather permitting) on xmas eve. There is a reasonable chance that I will be joined by either Kevin and/or Iain, and if so I must resist the temptation to stay for more than a couple of pints. Last night I managed to get what would be a reasonable amount of sleep under normal circumstances, but still not nearly enough to make up for the very poor sleep I got on Sunday night. That left me feeling very tired at work yesterday, and I did fall asleep at my desk on more than one occasion. So tonight I am aiming to be asleep by 8.30pm.
Monday 20th December 2010
07:59 GMT
 
 The temperature dropping well below zero last night was actually a good thing in one respect - all the previous slippery slush has frozen solid, and it is relatively not that slippery to walk on. It is quite cloudy right now, but over on the eastern horizon the sun is starting to rise with a red glow. Traditionally, that red glow precedes bad weather, and that would tie in with the last night's weather forecast that says we are due a heavy snowfall at about 6pm today. Where this theory falls down is the weather forecast saying that this morning, and even into the early afternoon, it would be foggy. As far as my eyes tell me, it is as clear as a bell outside !

 I wasn't really prepared for the reality of sleeping under my new satin leopard skin print duvet, and on my black satin sheet. Had the temperature in my bedroom been cool enough, and if I had not attempted to go to sleep early when I didn't really feel tired, everything may have been fine. Unfortunately I had allowed my bedroom to get quite warm during the day, and I tried to go to sleep at 8pm to allow for an early start this morning. There was one more problem as well. Ever since I moved my bed from one room to another, the mattress seems more lumpy than ever.

 The short story is that I slept rather badly last night. For the first few hours after turning the lights off I felt too hot to keep all my limbs under the duvet. So in a less than comfortable bed, while not feeling that sleepy, I thrashed around trying to find the ultimate combination of exposed flesh to covered flesh to regulate my temperature, while the satin duvet slipped and slid around on me an the satin sheet. Instead of getting an early night so I felt fresh today, I ended up getting a late night, and wishing I could go back to bed instead of being at work.

 Apart from sleeping problems, and my fingers going numb as I waited for my 11 minute late train on the icy station platform, and the icy cold air making me feel a bit asthmatic, and the same icy air giving me a cough, and ignoring the unexplained ache in my right foot, I feel quite reasonably good today. Even the onions, shallots, and tomatoes grilled in the oven with some olive oil, alongside a gammon steak, don't seem to have inflicted any digestive problems on me so far this morning. Neither have the baked beans that also formed part of my meal caused any unfortunate effects - so far !
Sunday 19th December 2010
09:52 GMT
 
 The snow is still laying thick on the ground, but I don't think that any more has fallen since yesterday. Needless to say, it is still very cold outside, and the threat of more snow is ever present. At the moment the sky is white, but if it starts to darken it will be time to batten down the hatches (or something).

 After a lazy afternoon yesterday I thought I ought to try and do some stuff this morning. Apart from a tiny bit of dusting, and emptying a few ashtrays and bins, I have only done one other important job. That was to change the sheets and duvet on the bed. I thought it high time I tried out my ultra kinky satin animal print duvet cover and black satin sheet that I wrote about buying a week or two ago.
Leopard skin print satin duvet and black satin sheet
 I think I am going to enjoy sleeping in my bed tonight (providing I don't slide out onto the floor !).
Saturday 18th December 2010
14:17 GMT
 
 It's a winter wonderland outside, or alternatively, it's icy cold and snowy outside. The forecasters said the snow would start at around 5am this morning - it didn't. It wasn't snowing when I went to Aldi's to do some shopping at approximately 9.30am. It was lightly snowing when I came out of the shop, and there was a blizzard when I went out to get some stuff from the 99p shop about half an hour later. When I came out of the 99p shop the blizzard had fizzled out, and since then there have been occasional light falls of snow.

 Potentially there could be a lot more snow to fall - some today, a bit more tomorrow, and then possibly again next Tuesday. With the snow falling on frozen ground it has settled to a depth of a couple of inches - so far ! This latest bout of snow actually started yesterday. At it's peak there was about an inch of snow on the ground, but by this morning a lot of it had dried up leaving just a tin layer waiting to accept today's fall.

 Yesterday was our xmas dinner at work, and the blizzard in the middle of it added an extra seasonal flair (and left me concerned about getting home on our precarious rail system). It may be that a lack of supplies of nice booze at the dinner contributed to my lack of enjoyment, but mostly I was feeling under the weather and less sociable than usual. Some reasonable scotch instead of wine or only slightly cool bottled ale and lager might have helped to break the ice, but the two bottle of lukewarm lager that I did drink did nothing positive for more me, and may have even contributed to my discomfort.

 Despite me bucking the trend, everyone else seemed to have a good time....
xmas dinner at work 17th Dec 2010
.....and there was a good spread of buffet type food to choose from. (note: many people were still collecting food when I took this photo, and very soon every single chair was filled, and I think more chairs from the office were brought in so that everyone could sit down).

 There was no special dress code for this dinner, but I donned my finest "night club bouncer" attire !
looking like a bouncer 17th Dec 2010
 Once the more formal bit of he dinner was over I decided I would slip away and enjoy the journey home in daylight. It was nice to travel in daylight again, and even with a light dusting of snow on SouthEastern Train's precious rails my journey had no delays. Although it was nice to travel in daylight I didn't completely enjoy it. I felt quite uncomfortable towards the end, and things were not helped by my trousers seeming a lot tighter than the last time I wore them. The answer to many of my problems was resolved when I finally got indoors. I had to rush upstairs to the toilet where after sitting down comfortably I exploded. It seems my "winter diet" knows no bounds when it comes to disrupting my lifestyle. After that, and wearing a comfortable pair of slouching-around-the-house trousers, I felt pretty much OK for the rest of the evening (and, oddly enough, today as well).

 While on my way home, and perhaps as a distraction to the increasing discomfort I was in, I took one extra picture.
The Shard viewed from Waterloo East 17/12/2010
 It is The Shard, soon to be Europes tallest building, rising over London Bridge station as viewed from a slightly snowy platform A at Waterloo East station.

 Today I have been slightly productive, although there is more that I could have, and in some cases, probably should have done. I've done two shopping trips, and done some laundry. None of that really took that long, and several hours seem to be unaccounted for. One thing I don't seem to have done in those unaccounted hours is to have anything like I would describe as a good rest. Once I have written all this I think I will lay on my bed and read for a bit before (hopefully) having a good snooze. Maybe later today I will do some cleaning around the house, or maybe not, but first things first - time for a lay down !
Friday 17th December 2010
08:28 GMT
 
 The temperature is well below zero this morning, and it will struggle to get more than a degree or two above zero today. Fortunately it is dry this morning - surprisingly dry. Last night it rained, then it sleeted, and finally managed to snow for a bit. This morning the pavements look bone dry, and even the puddles are dry in as much as they are nothing more than steely hard ice. It seems we may have more stuff falling out the sky tonight, and that stuff is supposed to be real snow. It will, allegedly, continue through tomorrow, and be quite deep by the end of the day. No snow is forecast for Sunday, nor Monday, so there is a microscopic chance the trains will be running on Monday morning as I shiver and slide my way to work for the start of the last week before xmas.

 On the whole, yesterday was not a good day. I felt pretty lousy, and the weather did little to cheer me up. There was intermittent rain in the afternoon, and once again a fair bit more rain as I made my way home from work. The worst of it was undoubtably the walk from the station to home. At that time the rain was turning to sleet, and it was coming down as such an angle as to hit my forehead. I always find that to be a very sensitive area, and by the time I got home it felt like the area just above my eyebrows was a seething mass of pain.

 I really did want to get some shopping on the way home last night, but with all the discomfort I was feeling I decided I didn't need anything that badly, and so went straight home. It made my choices for dinner a little less interesting, but roast potatoes, peas, and fish fingers (with lashing of tomato sauce) was not a bad substitute for some of the more exotic ideas I had.

 Last night was one of those times when the time just seems to fly by. I had every intention of getting to sleep very early last night, but it didn't happen. One small delay in getting to bed was caused by doing some laundry. I had to wait for the washing machine to finish before I dared put my head under the shower head to wash my hair. Then I had to wait until my hair was dry enough to get into bed. I finally got into bed a little before 9.30pm. That is not particularly late, but I think I was hoping to get to sleep an hour before that. For all that I had difficulty getting to sleep anyway, So it probably didn't matter what time I was in bed if my over active brain was going to fight my weary body.

 Washing my hair in the evening, and perhaps more so on a Thursday evening, is not something I do very often. Last night was a special occasion in preparation for a special occasion today. Today is our xmas lunch here at work. Not only have I got clean hair for it, but I have struggled into my black trousers, struggled to do the collar up on my best white shirt (which is, I now realise, has seen better days), put on a tie, and taken a chance that my black lace up shoes won't murder my feet. As well as all that I have worn my suit type jacket to work. I rather expect the entire ensemble make me look like a nightclub bouncer, but it is the smartest set up I can offer (although there is no requirement to dress up, and many haven't).
Thursday 16th December 2010
08:21 GMT
 
 It could be argued that the weather this morning is about as bad as it can get. It is cold, damp, dark grey, and bloody miserable. Even deep snow, and no transport can't compare to how bad this morning is. Of course my argument for this morning is really just hyperbole because the worst is yet to come. Tonight could see sleet, or even soggy snow falling out of the slate grey sky, or more likely, black sky.

 Yesterday was an unpleasantly grey day, and during the afternoon the first drizzle came down. By the time it came to go home it has ramped up to filthy light rain. That continued on and off until I was safely indoors in the warm, and quite possibly long after that as well. I didn't go straight home last night, and my detour meant that I got rained on even more.

 My detour home was because Iain had some business in Earlsfield, and so we met up for a drink in The Halfway House, a Young's pub close to Earlsfield station. My first drink in there was a pint of Winter Warmer. At least that is what I asked for, and that was what was written on the pump handle, but it tasted even less like Winter Warmer than the Winter Warmer I recently tested in The Catford Ram, and that only had a few similarities to the Winter Warmer that Young's used to brew in the now closed Wandsworth Brewery.  My second drink was a pint of Kronenberg. I don't know if the rather unpleasant taste of the Winter Warmer left some unpleasant residue on my taste buds, but even that tasted wrong, and approaching towards unpleasant.

 After two pints in Wandsworth we caught the train to Waterloo where I assumed Iain would probably get the Jubilee Line back to Canada Water station, but he decided to come to Catford with me. Back in Catford we went for just one more drink in The Catford Ram. I discovered a new Young's beer in there called "The Guvnor's". It was in first class condition, but also unpleasant with the typical Young's over hopped, and rather too bitter taste much favoured by Young's. I had one pint of that, and then Iain twisted my arm to buy me a scotch.

After that I went home via "The Broadway Kebab" shop where I bought battered sausage and chips. It is lucky I enjoyed the Scotch that Iain bought me because I found I didn't like the taste of the battered sausage (either of them - I had two). I believe all the shop staff are religiously challenged in a Muslim sort of direction, and so the sausages were almost certainly not proper pork ones. I suppose they may have been beef sausages, but I am not even convinced they had any meat in them unless, and quite possibly, it was meat from some unusual part of an animal not normally associated with sausages.

 I am not going to blame the beer or the sausages, but I felt really lousy when I woke up this morning. It was a real challenge to get out of the door and heading towards work. If I had not already lost two days pay this month I would most probably called in sick this morning. Once again I am suffering from multiple aches and pains, but this morning I seem to be coughing a bit more, and there are hints my nose is starting to leak. Assuming I have got some sort of  bug, rather than just taking a long time to realise I have actually died, it may well be the reason why so many things tasted wrong yesterday evening.

 Everything seems to be tasting OK now, but even after being at work for well over half an hour I still feel like I want to go back to bed. Even on some of my crappier starts to the day I usually feel reasonably OK once I have got into work and had a sit down for half an hour. It is incredibly bad timing if I am infested with heaps of festering bacteria and viruses. Tomorrow is our xmas lunch here at work, and although it is nothing wonderful, I would still like to be here for my free glass of lukewarm beer with a cold chicken drum stick !

 Not only was it an achievement to make it into work today because of the way I felt, but it may have been an acheivement not to have been blown up by a pair of suicide bombers on my way here. There were a couple of men on my train to Waterloo East who I may have badly misjudged in more than one way. They kept looking at each other as if they were a pair of lovers, and maybe that is all it was, but from their general appearance I would have judged them to be of a religion that favours suicide bombing over homosexuality. One of them definitely had that suicide bomber must have accessory - a rucksack - and I think the other may have had one too. Maybe, even as I write this, tube trains are exploding, or maybe tomorrow morning I will see another (presumed) extra strong condom floating in the bowl of one of the gents toilets at Waterloo East station.
Wednesday 15th December 2010
07:56 GMT
 
 I do get the impression it is getting darker outside instead of lighter. The sky did seem very clear up until just now. there were plenty of stars to be seen despite all the light pollution from the city. There was also a very fierce frost. Looking out my office window right now it looks as if it could snow ! If it did it would be a bit premature. Last night's TV weather forecast suggested that sleet and/or snow could fall on Thursday night. It will be a bit unfortunate if it does snow too much on Thursday night, and the trains come to a grinding halt again on Friday morning. Friday is our xmas dinner here at work !

 This morning I do feel rather bad. Yesterday afternoon I had a stomach upset that was bad enough for me to delay leaving work for 15 minutes. In the evening I still felt a bit volatile, and this morning my guts are still sore. Fortunately I am rather empty after yesterday, and so that soreness did not translate into explosive action. It was not only my guts that felt bad this morning. My head felt a bit thick, and my neck, shoulders, and a bit of my upper back felt rather creaky too. In an ideal world I would have gone back to bed this morning, but having already lost two days pay during the recent transport catastrophe, I can't really afford to take any more unpaid days of this year.

 Unlike next month, my money situation this month is not too bad. I have been almost careful about how I have spent my money these last couple of months, and last month I paid of my credit card completely so I started this month with a clean slate. Now I find myself annoyed that I can't think of any justified (advance) purchases to cheat the taxman out of the VAT increase coming in January. It seems rather peculiar to me that I am currently satisfied with all my computer equipment. The 1.5 TB hard drives in my server still seem to have spare space, all the other PCs seem to be performing well, my mobile phone still seems to be rather excellent, and even my old Sony TV set soldiers on.

 What I really need to spend my money on is a new mattress. I have been meaning to buy one for at least a couple of years now, and I never seem to get around to doing it. The problem is that mattresses are to big to carry home on the train, and too big to go through the letter box. That means I would have to be at home when it is delivered, but the only times I know I will be home, and not be at work are on days when I am not actually at home because I have planned to go out (!). I am now wondering how hopelessly optimistic it might be to consider the possibility of trying to get a new mattress in that short interval between xmas and new year when I will not be working.
Tuesday 14th December 2010
08:21 GMT
 
 It seemed like there may have been some rain during the night, but maybe it was just everything dripping with condensation. While still unpleasantly cold outside, it is slightly warmer than yesterday so there is no frost or ice about. Now the sun has risen I can see that nearly 50% of the sky is blue, and the other 50% is small clouds in a random pattern across the blue bits.

 Maybe we will get some sunshine today. Yesterday there were many blue patches of sky visible, but throughout the whole day none of the were where the sun was in the sky. I am not sure if that was just bad luck, or bad planning by one of tired out old deities.

 After my por sleep on Sunday night I was expecting to feel very tired yesterday. Surprisingly I didn't, and my feeling of wellbeing continued through the day. This morning I still feel oddly good - at least in parts, I do. This morning it was if my legs did no belong to the rest of my body. All the walking involved in coming to work seemed totally effortless to my legs. It was as if they could go on walking forever. Unfortunately the same can not be said for the rest of my body. With my coat zipped up tight against the cold, I found that I quickly became almost short of breath while sucking in vast quantities of cold air into my overheated, and coat restricted chest.

 I think I don't like this cold weather. It is cold enough that my hands can start to become numb, and yet other bits of me can still overheat when walking fast. In many ways it is a paradox that I can be so hot while being so cold. It is of course always possible that I am doing everything wrong. Perhaps if I could believe that my legs felt cold I could bring myself to wear the long johns I mentioned yesterday. That might redistribute the heat in ways I had not previously appreciated, or more likely I would just end up with sweaty "gentlemans bits". With really harsh weather coming our way again, I may get an excellent chance to try out the long johns under realistic conditions, and find out what they really offer.
Monday 13th December 2010
07:47 GMT
 
 I am having a hard time trying to work out how cloudy the sky is.Sunrise is still two minutes away as I write this so there is not a lot of light to see what is going on. As my train approached Earlsfield station there was a faint band of dull orange/pink on the horizon where the sun was due to rise, and across that were some streaks of very dark cloud. It looked as if the rest of the sky was clear. The sharp frost this morning suggests that the sky was relatively clear last night. In Catford the air seemed a bit hazy rather than misty or foggy. So it is possible the grey in the sky is just mist that will clear later on, but even should the sun come out it will remain very cold today - but perhaps relatively mild compared to the frigid air howling down from the artic that will reach us later in the week (so the forecasters predict).

 I had a remarkably lazy day yesterday. After getting in some shopping from Aldi in the morning I did little more. I wanted to go out to see All You Need play in Greenwich, but when the time came I didn't feel like going out. This was partly because I was feeling warm, cozy, lazy, sleepy and full of dinner. With hindsight I should not have eaten so much, but after a visit to Aldi it was inevitable that I would buy something irrestistable.

 In this case the irrestitable item was a small angel cake. Over the course of the morning and afternoon it seemed to just evaporate. Despite my gluttony with the angel cake I didn't really eat to excess at all yesterday, and the more I think about it the more odd it seems that I should have felt so full by mid afternoon. Later on, as evening approached I was actually feeling hungry again. Mindful of how I had felt earlier on I cooked a very basic evening meal of a few boiled new potatoes and semi-steamed skinless chicken thighs with lashings of chilli sauce !

 It may be because my total food consumption yesterday was (for me) rather moderate for a grey Sunday in Winter that I feel quite good this morning. That is not to say that everything is perfect. While I don't feel bloated, or have any form of digestive upset, the large quantities of hot chilli sauce I consumed yesterday (and Saturday night) is still challenging as it exits my body. On the whole though, the thrill of the taste going in usually outweighs the subsequent disadvantage of the discomfort in the exit process.

 One reason I shouldn't feel so good this morning is that I had a lousy sleep. Once again I can blame this on Aldi. They had some underwear on sale that I became curious to try. Although not described as such on the packet, they were essentially long johns. They were made of a black stretch fabric, perhaps like spandex, with a thin fleece lining.  Generally speaking I don't particularly feel like my legs get cold in the winter, but with the forecasts warning of more artic like weather on the way, I thought that maybe it might be prudent to have some extra warm underwear on standby.

 As an experiment I let my room get fairly cool before I went to bed, and wore the "long johns" in bed. That was a bad mistake. They certainly worked at keeping my legs warm, and probably other bits too. I ended up thrashing around trying to find a compromise between virtually sweating hot and too cool. I have no idea why I stuck it out so long, but it was not until 2 or 3 in the morning that I took them off and finally slept naked as usual. Unfortunately, when my alarm woke me, I was feeling almost chilly after almost losing the duvet off the side of the bed sometime in the night.

 I guess I learned a few lessons from that  experiment, but the most important one was not to try it again unless all heating has failed for the previous 24 hours. I'll next experiment with those long johns when I go out walking in the next snow. By some accounts I won't have to wait too long for that - maybe even this coming weekend according to the worst pessimists.
Sunday 12th December 2010
10:07 GMT
 
 There is a fair amount of cloud in the sky, but it still seems reasonably bright outside. The temperature has been holding up on the plus side of freezing these last couple of days, and today it should be at least 5 C, but apparently there is an outside chance that it will hit 7 C. After today it will start getting colder again, and there remains a chance, or at least there did the last time I saw any weather predictions, that more snow could be on the way.

 It was nice yesterday to have a very lazy day. In the morning I did a little housework, just sufficent to make a bit of the place look almost tidy before Aleemah visited. After meeting her at the station we went and had some breakfast in the cafe before a quick visit to Poundsaver. I found a nice royal purple bed sheet in there, and a satin leopard skin print duvet cover. That should look good on my bed - I'll have to take a picture of it when I use it or nobody is likely to see it.

 The only significant thing I did in the evening was to play with some sweet chestnuts that I bought in Tesco. Until recently, the only way I knew of cooking them was to roast them, but last night I experimented with boiling them. This actually has some advantages, although it does reduce that delicious roasted flavour. Initially I put them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, and then cooled them enough off in cold water so I could handle them comfortably.  They were very easy to peel after the boiling water treatment, and once peeled I boiled them some more, but maybe not quite enough. They were very nice, but a tiny bit on the hard side. A little extra cooking and they would have been nice and soft and crumbly. Ideally I should have cooked them  as part of a vegetable stew maybe.

Last year, or maybe the year before, Tesco used to sell frozen sprouts with chestnuts, and I found it a really nice combination. That is sort of surprising because sprouts are hardly my favourite green vegetable, but somehow the combination of the two is sort of pleasant.

 Today I have, in theory, a mildly busy day. This morning I will be going out to get some shopping in Aldi, and this afternoon I am going to The Star And Garter pub in Greenwich to watch All You Need play. They are on at 4pm, and apparently finish at 7pm. I don't know if any other band are playing in there earlier or later, and I don't even know if the pub is a tiny place with the band huddled into a corner, or if there is a small, but proper stage there. So it's going to be a voyage of discovery as well as an afternoons entertainment.
Friday 10th December 2010
08:07 GMT
 
 A good layer of cloud has kept the temperature up this morning. Instead of it being agonisingly cold it is merely painfully cold ! I guess it is a couple of degrees above zero now, and the temperature is set to rise to as high as 7 C today. If it happens, that is one degree warmer than I was expecting, but it comes at a cost of tomorrow only being the same instead of another degree warmer still. Meanwhile the cloud will probably continue to sap the world of it's colour and vibrancy.

 The lack of cloud yesterday produced some nice sunshine, and the often still air allowed that sunshine to actually feel delightfully warm even outside. Of course it was only warm while the air was still, and then only on bits of the body held perfectly still, and facing the right direction.

 There were no icy blasts when I made my way home last night. It was certainly cold, but with little wind it didn't feel like my facwe was being freeze dried off my skull like it did on the previous nights. It was an eventful journey home, but neither of the two events were a disaster, or ultimately even mildly bad. The first event was at Earlsfield station. For some reason all the barriers had been left open, and the ones I usually use were all displaying the exit sign (a red cross on the Oystercard reader display). As an experiment I tried "touching in" on the "touch out" reader.

 Where barriers are not fitted, such as at Catford Bridge station, the simple Oystercard readers can be used in either direction, but apparently not where barriers are fitted. When I touched my Oystercard on the wrong reader it assumed I was exiting from a journey where I had not touched in, and so charged my a full price ticket (presumably a full rate ticket from zone 1 to zone 3). When I came to touch out at Waterloo it assumed the same thing because it had no record of me touching in again.

 The other event on my way home last night was a call from Kevin to say that he was just going out shopping, and could meet me in The Catford Ram once I got back to Catford. I wanted to get some shopping too, and so I said yes. Kevin was not in the pub when I got there, but Chris, the lead guitarist from Chain, was. He bought me a drink, and we had a little chat until Kevin turned up five minutes later.

 After just two pints I went and got my shopping. Unfortunately, after those two pints, my powers of discrimination had waned and I bought some stuff, like the packet of cream and rasberry turnovers, that I would otherwise have tried to avoid (but they did look very lonely on the reduced price shelf, and they were rather delicious). I didn't feel bloated in any way when I went to bed, but I suspect it was some sort of reaction to the food that kept waking me up at almost hourly intervals in the night. Each time I woke up I felt comfortable,  and didn't have to do any more than turn over and go back to sleep again. It was rather annoying.

 This morning I had an extended stopover at Waterloo station while I sorted out my Oystercard. The Jubilee Line ticket office was nice and quiet, and I explained my problem to the booking clerk (or whatever they are called in modern parlance).  It was no problem for him to correct my error, and refund me some money, but I am not totally convinced he did it correctly, and that I got all my money refunded. Instead of paying 2 for an off peak (before 4pm) journey between Earlsfield and Catford Bridge, I think his correction made it two journeys - Earlsfield to Waterloo and Waterloo East to Catford Bridge - both at the peak rate of 2.60 each. I think I'll be calling the Oystercard helpline later and see if they can fine tune things in my favour (even if it was basically my fault).

 I am rather glad that today is Friday. It feels like it has been a long week, and the weekend beckons. Tonight I don't think I'll be doing much at all, although I may do a tiny bit of housework in preparation from Aleemah coming over tomorrow. I won't have to do any shopping in the morning, and if I can do some housework tonight I'll be able to get up nice and slowly at my leisure !
Thursday 9th December 2010
07:52 GMT
 
 As I left the house to go to work I looked up at a clear sky with stars twinkling like diamonds.That clear sky was the cause of the temperature dropping to well below zero. I have no idea what the temperature actually was, but the frost was as hard as diamonds. Today, if we are lucky, we should see the daytime temperature start to climb. It may only reach three degrees today, but tomorrow is still forecast for five degrees, and Saturday should see the mercury climb to the heady heights of a marvellous eight degrees ! After that, I prefer not to think about it !

 There seems to be some thin, misty, cloud forming as I write this, but there is a good chance that there will be some sunshine today. There was some sunshine yesterday. Not much, ut when it came streaming in through my office window it felt very hot as it hit the side of my face. Shortly after my face was caressed by the sun I went outside for a fag. The sun was still shining, but outside those same rays of sunshine made little impression on the frigid air.

 Maybe the worst thing in the last couple of days is how a bitter winds always seems to accompany my walk to the station. I am convinced it is triggered by the setting sun, but it could just be because once I leave the premises I am no longer sheltered by the buildings here. Although there is some shelter here, where I go for a smoke is between two buildings, and very often you get a howling gale rushing between the two. Personally I am still sold on the idea of the setting sun triggering the winds. Under some conditions I know that does happen as a fact, but I am less certain it happens on a cold winters day.

 Last night I had a delicious meal that was relatively healthy. The bulk of it was stir fried boiled vegetables cooked with some lamb fillets. I found those lamb fillets on the reduced price counter looking slightly less vibrantly red than meat tends to be sold in supermarkets. I don't think I had noticed lamb being sold as rather well trimmed fillets in Tesco before. Almost all the fat had been trimmed off leaving pure chunks of meat, and cooked in stock with the vegatables made it really delicious. Of course not everything was sweetness and light. While waiting for my dinner to cook I did eat a couple of 20gm (maybe less) bags of chilli potato rings, and after dinner I did eat 4 or 5 "oat crunch" biscuits.

 After intending to get another early night I failed miserably and didn't get to bed until about 9.20pm. I did get to sleep very quickly. So I didn't lose out on too much sleep, or I would not have done had I not woken up half an hour early. I woke up from a peculiar dream. In this dream I seemed to be investigating a new phenonema - a motorway breast feeding station. I have no idea how this idea came into my head, and equally I have no idea of the circumstances leading up to the flash of dream I can recall. I don't even know who was driving the car I was in. Maybe I was even driving myself (even though in reality I can't drive). In fact I am not even certain I was even in a vehicle at all, but I was definitely moving.

 The breast feeding station was on a sort of horseshoe shaped loop off the motorway, and was indicated by a sort of pink half circle that was more reminiscent of a crescent moon than the outline of a breast. Having moved off the motorway I was amused to see that this breast feeding station looked remarkably similar to three portaloos sitting in the middle of a dusty roundabout. The only other thing I can remember is that I had a far more interesting dream that I have now totally forgotten !
Wednesday 8th December 2010
07:49 GMT
 
 On Friday we could see temperatures of up to five degrees, but for now the temperature continues to hover around zero. In Catford it was freezing, and the hard compacted remains of the snow are still in evidence here and there. As I passed through London Bridge station I noticed that the temperature was a little higher, and the platforms were wet from condensing mist that was almost like rain, but too fine and insubstantial to be called rain. Here in Earlsfield the temperature is probably just above zero.

 This cold is getting to me. While I felt relatively comfortable during the day, and didn't notice any significant wind, that all changed as I made my way home from work. Perhaps it was induced by the setting sun, or maybe something else, but the wind felt viciously cold as it tried to free dry, and tear off my face and ears. By the time I had walked to the station I was feeling very bad. I was puffing and wheezing, my chest hurt, and I felt quite shivery.

 It was a joy to get home and into the warm last night, and yet it seemed to take ages before I felt warm. I wonder if I have picked up yet another winter bug, or if all winters are going to be like this from now on. The latter case may well be correct because I recall suffering quite badly in the cold last winter. Some of the chest pains were a trifle worrying last year, but I seemed to survive them, and with luck I'll do the same this winter.

 Some of my symptoms are undoubtably due to overeating in this cold weather. At first I thought I was managing to tread a fine line between making up the extra losses caused by the cold weather, and overdoing it, but now I am sure that I have stepped over that line - or had done so. Starting last Sunday I have attempted to bulk out my food with vegetables instead of "topping up" with too much of stuff I should preferably avoid. Maybe this morning there is a hint that it is starting to work. My dash between Waterloo East and Waterloo stations seemed less likely to kill me this morning, and I thought a coma could be the worst case scenario. In fact I just ended up puffing and panting as I boarded my train at Waterloo after that arduous little march.

 Another thing I managed to do last night to improve how I feel today was to get a decent nights sleep. It was touch and go, but I managed to get into bed with the lights out before 9pm (possibly as early as 8.59 and thirty seconds !). I fell asleep realy quickly, and apart from a brief interlude for a pee sometime in the very early hours, I slept solidly until my alarm woke me at 5am. I say I slept solidly, but I do seem to recall dreaming a lot, and bits of two dreams remain hazily in my memory even now.

 The first dream seemed to take in a long period of time, but I can only remember a few snapshots now. In this dream my friend Ivor decided to build a radio studio at the back of his house (maybe a new house). What made the dream so memorable was the size of this radio studio, and the way it just seemed to grow and grow. By the end of the dream the studio itself had grown to a size where there was plenty of room for a DJ plus a whole rock band. The studio was a room off a control room, and that was even more massive. There was enough floor space for a 40 piece orchestra to play in there.

The other bit of dream I remember is most intriguing, and could almost be a premonition of something. I can't quite picture where I was exactly, but it did bear a resemblance to the parlour of the house I lived in up to the age of 13 or 14. Something was happening, but I can't remember what it was exactly. I have a vague mist like memory that it might have involved Doctor Who in some way, but might just as easily have been something to do with astronomy. There is also an insubstantial feeling that the police or military may have been around. The bit I do remember was a woman coming down the hallway to the room I was in, and the feeling that it was an intrusion that I didn't want. I asked her, in an exasperated voice, "OK, who are you ?". All she did was to say "change" and place a large handful of loose change in my hand. The last thing I remember was adding that handful of coins to a bulging pockeful I already seemed to have.

 Was that a premonition that a change is coming to my life ? Well of course it was because change always happens, but maybe there is something more substantial over the horizon that I can blame on the dream. If not I'll have to downgrade the premonition to something as insubstantial as a change in the weather.  Thinking about it a bit more it could have been some sort of warning. Maybe this unnamed woman in the dream was trying to warn me that the material forming the pocket in my jeans where I keep my loose change is wearing very thin, and that I ought to take care that I don't have the same accident I had a year or two ago when I started to lose money out of a hole in the pocket of an older pair of jeans.

 I think that explains most things about my dream, but it doesn't explain why I didn't have a dream involving warm sunny weather, beautiful (and willing) women and lots of delicious booze ! Sometimes life can be so unfair !
Tuesday 7th December 2010
07:47 GMT
 
 This morning is a duplicate of yesterday morning. It's cold and frosty, and there are the same patches of frozen slush on the way to the station that were there yesterday morning. Here in Earlsfield there is hardly any evidence left of all the snow we had last week, but in Catford there is plenty of evidence.The closest being outside my next door neighbours house. There is still a small pile of unmelted snow/slush/ice where it was piled up after clearing their front garden and path. With temperatures not really getting any higher than a couple of degrees in the daytime, and even more degrees below zero at night, these reminders of last weeks snow are going to be around for a good few days more.

 Another aspect of the recent snow is it distracted me from having a periodic moan about the short days. Last night it was after sunset, and practically dark when I boarded my train at Earlsfield to go home. By the time I arrived in Catford the sky was so dark that it was indistinguishable from the sky at midnight. In many ways I have come to accept this miserable state of affairs, but I still yearn for the winter solstice, just a fortnight away now, for the days to start getting longer again.

 If the evening were lighter I could maybe do something worth writing about. Instead I ate my dinner, watched a bit of TV, and almost just went straight to bed last night. In fact I didn't go straight to bed because I got distracted by the PC in my bedroom. I replied to a couple of emails before spending rather more time than I should have on the forums of giffgaff. That was not altogether a bad idea because participating there earns me payback points which just recently have been paying for my entire mobile phone bill.What I am paying for now is the fact that instead of getting to sleep before 9pm, as I really ought to with work in the morning, it was actually well gone 10pm before I even got into bed. I think I may be a little tired later today !
Monday 6th December 2010
07:24 GMT
 
 After the relatively mild weekend we are back to icy cold conditions again. There's no snow, and apparently none is due this week, but there is a very severe frost with the possibility of freezing fog to come. I didn't see any fog as I made my way in to work, but there is a definite haze towards the River Wandle which runs behind here.

 I think the temperature climbed to at least 5 C yesterday, and although that is still very much on the chilly side, it made a surprising difference to the amount of heating on I needed at home. That was aided by quite a lot of sunshine. For a lot of the afternoon I didn't need any heating on at all with the sun streaming through the front windows, and my bedroom in particular seemed to hold on to that heat very well. I topped it up with a bit of extra heating later in the evening, but with hindsight I wished I hadn't done that after it felt a little too warm in bed.

 By this morning any heat had long departed, and it even started to feel a bit cool in bed. I believe that is the pattern for the week ahead. The days will be at least a few degrees above zero, but some of the nights are going to be severely cold. I seem to recall that on one night, though I forget which one, the temperature is forecast to sink to minus seven degrees - and that is in central London which tends to be several degrees warmer than the countryside. Of course those "up north" or in Canada may feel that minus seven is a mere cool spell, but for central London it is bloody cold !

 I think I have had a pretty lazy weekend, and maybe that's why for the first time in ages I managed to get up, and get ready, in time to catch the 06:03 train this morning. It was, as tradition might dictate, running late, but only by a minute or two. After the fiasco of the phantom train service last week it seemed little short of a miracle to be able to just go to the station and board a predictably timetabled train. I wouldn't go as far as saying that I enjoyed getting to work this morning. That would be going too far. I still dislike my long commute at the best of times, and rather hate it at this time of the year when I am travelling in the dark, but even that is mild compared to the most vile loathsomeness of travelling by cold overcrowded buses for seemingly never ending trips  through the snow bound terrors of London's streets.
Sunday 5th December 2010
07:56 GMT
 
 Apart from some persistent snow and ice lurking in odd corners, or where it had been piled up, all the snow has now melted away. The process started yesterday, and continued into the night when the temperature was 4 or 5 degrees above zero. It even rained, just plain ordinary rain, in the late evening. Sometime in the early hours of the morning the temperature dropped again, and although I haven't been outside to confirm it, it looks like the cars are covered with a thin layer of frost.

 It is possible that we might have some sunshine today. As the sky continues to light up I can see a lot of clear sky, although the eastern horizon, where the sun should be rising now, seems to be still cloudy. Even with some sunshine I doubt that the temperature will rise much above 4 or 5 degrees, but even that will feel warm by comparison to the numbing cold of last week.

 It is surprising just how much difference that small shift to positive numbers makes. Last night, before the rain started, I opened the back door in the hope that Smudge might go out instead of filling her litter tray up. Standing near the open back door was obviously a bit chilly, but it was quite tolerable, and Smudge seemed to agree with me because she did go out, and after much sniffing of the air she disappeared from sight to do whatever cats do (probably inspecting all the neighbours flower beds for the best place to take a crap !).

 Last night I didn't leave any heating on overnight, and I didn't wake up feeling like bits of me would shrivel and drop off. In fact I probably slept rather better than of late. I can even remember a few "snapshots" of dreams I had. One dream seemed to be about my friends Ivor and Iain making spacesuits out of gaffer tape and what appeared to be Tesco carrier bags. I can't quite remember why they were doing this, but I think it was some sort of emergency exercise prior to them going off to the International Space Station.

 Another fragment of dream concerned one of the young women I work with. I think we were at work, and she had a load of parcels with her that were possibly xmas presents, and she also had two daughters. In real life she has no daughters, but she does ride a motorbike. In the dream I assumed that she was going to take these daughters, and the parcels, on a northbound District Line tube train (which in real life goes east - west) from a nearby station that looked remarkably like the old Shoreditch station on the old East London Line. My assumption was wrong because she announced they were all going on her motorbike. While trying to imagine how you could possibly get three on a motorbike, plus all the parcels, she appeared from round the corner on a sort of cross between a motorbike and a sit on lawn mower painted in gloss black.

 The other dream fragment I remember concerned me wanting to get some thigh length brown, lace up, boots. As far as I know there was nothing kinky about this, and they were just for rambling through overgrown fields to protect my legs from brambles etc. I may well have got the image of these boots from dubious web site, but the use of them could be entirely practical. I am reminded of my 10.35 mile walk across the Essex countryside between Epping and Ongar last July. There was one footpath I wanted to try and follow but it seemed to cross a very overgrown field full of thistles or other shrp leaved plants, and also seemed to be full of what looked like funnel web spiders. Some soft, but sturdy, thigh high boots would definitely have been a good idea if I had continued to try and cross that field !

 Beyond going out to buy yet more cat litter, and other stuff, I am not entirely sure what I am doing today. If we do have some sunshine later on I could be tempted to go out exploring. It is probable that further out into the countryside there is still a lot of snow on the ground, and with the trains apparently working again to a lot of destinations, today could be a good compromise between mobility and snow photography. It is an opportunity I shouldn't waste, but I'll probably end up wasting it anyway. I'll either make a snap decision to just go, or sit here thinking about it for so long that it becomes too late to go out.

 Maybe I'll end up saving my travelling adventure to getting to work tomorrow. The trains did seem to be running normally last night, and appear to be running OK this morning. So commuting to work should be back to the same old tedious journey again.
Saturday 4th December 2010
10:16 GMT
 
 The thaw is beginning ! Ever so slowly the snow and ice is beginning to melt. It didn't seem likely last night, but things were definitely dripping when I woke up at 5am. Right now the sky is a pale colour, but I think there is a chance that the sun may break through later on. After that it is anyone's guess what will happen.

 I didn't go to work yesterday. I was put off by my experiences of cummuting the day before. I have already explained the horrible journey to get into work, but getting home was just as horrible, or maybe worse because so much more of it was done in the dark.

 I left work a tiny bit earlier than my usual early, and walked to Earlsfield station along the slushy pavement. When I reached the station I found a train in the platform being held by a red signal. That was odd, but I still wasn't expecting the journey to Waterloo to be as bad as it was. For reasons that were never explained, there was a huge amount of congestion at Waterloo station and the closer we got to the station the slower my train went. It took 55 minutes instead of the usual 15 minutes before we arrived at a platform.

 The first thing I did was to queue up and get some cash from the cash machines there, and then I went outside for a fag. I knew I would have to change train at London Bridge station, and I did consider getting the tube direct from Waterloo to London Bridge and not bother with Waterloo East station.

 However curiosity got the better of me and I went up to the platforms at Waterloo East to see what was happening. There was a train to London Bridge if I waited for about 20 minutes, but I carried on walking to the far end of the platform, and then down the stairs to Southwark tube station for a tube to London Bridge.

 At London Bridge the departure boards seemed to mostly say either "delayed" or "cancelled". I came to the conclusion that it was mostly innacurate - particularly where one departure was concerned. The 16:35 to Orpington was shown as departing at 04:01. This was clearly nonsense, and the only option was to go through the ticket barriers, up onto the platforms, and seek better information there.

 While contemplating this as I smoked another fag I noticed a 47 bus stopping at a nearby bus stop. Taking a deep breath I raced up the road and huffing and puffing, just succeeded in catching it. It was to be a long slow, tedious, and uncomfortable journey back to Catford, and I arrived home feeling very weary at 6.30pm (I usually get home at about 4:50pm on a good day).

 It was after spending nearly 5 hours just commuting that I decided that even if there was some sort of late running wonky train service I couldn't raise the enthusiasm to go to work. I did notice, later in the day, that a few trains did run, but I have no idea what time the first one actually ran.

 With another day off work, and another days pay lost, I am not sure why I never got around to writing a blog yesterday. In theory I had plenty of time to do it, but after getting in a bit more sleep I wanted to make going out shopping my first priority. After that I just never got around to doing it.

 I went to Aldi's to do my shopping, and I reckon animal instinct made me buy lots of high calorie, long lasting foods like biscuits and stuff. I guess I was trying to stock up for winter so I wouldn't have to leave my "burrow" until the spring. That would actually be a nice idea if I could do it.

 Later in the late afternoon, after consuming far too much food, I met up with Iain for a pint in The London And Rye. They had some beer there called "Chocaholic" and it really did smell of chocolate. What's more, it was truly wonderful stuff to drink. After a pint of that we wandered to The Catford Ram to see what was going on in there. Originally Chain were supposed to be playing in there, but I had recieved a message from them a few days earlier saying they were cancelling because of the bad weather.

 All the posters that had been put up for Chain's gig had been taken down except for one that was partially obscured by xmas decorations. A bit later on Kevin joined us for a pint of Winter Warmer. A while later I left Iain and Kevin drinking and I went home again. Despite having had three pints of Winter Warmer I felt really freezing cold as I walked home. So cold that I couldn't wait to cook some dinner when I got in, and bought some hot spicy chicken wings and a bag of chips on the way back home.

 It was because I felt so cold last night that the start of the thaw this morning came as asuch a surprise. The sky had been fairly clear in the evening and I was sure the temperature was going to plummet to at least several degrees below zero. Evidently I was very wrong. I left some heating on when I went to bed, but in the middle of the night I felt too hot and had to turn the heating off again before I could get back to sleep.

 The thaw seems to be happening very slowly, and there is still plenty of ice and snow stil around, but most house roofs seem to be clear of snow now. I guess the hard packed snow and ice on the roads and pavements is going to take a bit longer. With luck there will be a normal train service on Monday because I can't afford to take any more days off. Perhaps if the gods decree that we should get more snow they can wait until xmas eve. A white xmas would be a nice novelty, and after xmas eve I am officially off work until the new year. So any snow then will be sort of enjoyable rather than a pain in the donkey (as the Americans would say [becuase they can't spell properly]).
Thursday 2nd Decemeber 2010
09:30 GMT
 
 There was more snow overnight, and this morning I estimate it was about 8 inches deep on next door's shed roof. I don't know how long it will go on, but there are still a few slow flurries now and then. It can only get deeper before it goes away - which might not be until Sunday at the earliest !

 Once again, and not unsuprisingly, there were no train from Catford this morning, and yet I am at work. I endured an initially freezing cold, and later packed bus ride all the way from Catford to Waterloo station. I have never travelled on route 171 before, and I am convinced it took "the scenic route". It seemed to take ages to get to Waterloo. I am sure that the timetable on the bus stop suggested it should have taken about 35 minutes, but I was on that bus for well over an hour. My entire journey into work, door to door, took something like 2 hours and 20 minutes. I remain unconvinced that journey, plus the unknown terrors of trying to get home again are really worth a days pay.

 One sad (but still comical) effect of the snow concerns poor old Smudge. She has been most reluctant to go out in the cold recently, but she still has to answer the call of nature, and although I don't force her, I do encourage her to do her business outside. Yesterday she did her best. I am not sure where she goes for it exactly, but it involves her climbing over the 6ft high fence. She did her usual pacing around before launching herself up the fence post. That went smoothly, but as she reached to the top of the fence to pull herself up she kept finding cold snow. After clinging to the fence post with her claws for a few moments, she decided there was no way she was going to put her paws into snow, and did a sort of acrobatic leap backwards off the fence while twisting around to land perfectly on her feet. After that performance I let her in and gave her privacy to use her litter tray.
Wednesday 1st Decemeber 2010
10:17 GMT
 
 Yesterday morning felt to be less cold the the previous morning, but this morning it is most definitely cold. The temperature may only be minus one degree, but there is an icy wind that makes it feel a lot colder than that when it hits you in the face.  Yesterday's snowfall in Earlsfield never came to much. Most of it melted as it hit the ground, but in Catford it did settle. There was more snow overnight, and I reckon that on my neighbours's shed roof, where it is totally undisturbed, there is at least three inchs of snow. More snow is forecast, and even if it takes until tomorrow to arrive, it will fall on already intact snow and ice. It could get to be quite thick before all this is over.

 Of course even this little bit of snow can caused complete chaos on SouthEastern Railways Ltd. It all kicked off in time to completely sabotage my journey home from work last night. There was an obstruction on the line, and/or a points problem at, or near, Elmers End that brought trains to Catford to a grinding halt for an unknown amount of hours. There was a fatality on the line somewhere towards Dartford, and trains were having difficulty in the thicker snow further out into Kent. Reports on the news this morning said that one train broke down near Sevenoaks for five hours. The passengers on that train had to be walked down the track in the early hours, and given shelter in the staff accomodation at Sevenoaks station. Maybe I can't blame the rail company for the obstruction on the line, or for the fatality, but I am going to anyway.

 My journey home from work last night was what some may call "interesting". Getting from Earlsfield to Waterloo was totally routine, but from there in became very tedious. There was no indication that there was any problems when I got to Waterloo East. My 16:23 train was shown as on time on the displays. Once I was standing on the platform the truth became clearer. The station staff were saying that the only trains they knew to be at Charing Cross, which would form services out of London, via Waterloo East, were one train to Gravesend, and one train towards Sevenoaks.

 Faced with a long wait for an uncertain train that was bound to be seriously overcrowded, I caught a tube from Southwark station the one stop to London Bridge.  Eventually a train arrived that could have got me to Lewisham, but it was only a four car train for about 16 cars worth of waiting passengers. I was still at the back of a five deep crowd when the station staff had to force the doors shut. The next train arrived very soon after, and it was a longer train. By shear luck I happened to be in the right place at the right time to be able to get on board that train. Once again it would take me no closer to home than Lewisham, but I was at least moving in the right direction.

 It was a tight squeeze on that train, but we arrived at Lewisham to find the platforms coverd by a few inches of wet slippery snow, and no evidence that anyone had attempted to even put any salt or grit down. I reckon that the fatality I mentioned earlier was probably caused by someone slipping off a platform in similar conditions. Hence I blame the railway for it.

 In theory I should have been able to catch a bus home from Lewisham, but having seen one bus come empty from the depot, and fill to bursting point in front of my eyes, I decided it would actually be more comfortable to walk the two miles home through the snow and slush. It was almost nice walking the last bit through a mostly deserted park, but even there the snow had been ealier churned into a mixture of slippery ice and slush. I arrived home an hour late, and despite the cold, I was sweating underneath my coat after such a difficult walk. About two thirds of the way through the park a train passed me. If I had waited for it I would have arrived home about a minute later than I did after travelling in crush conditions. Maybe that walk was worth it after all.

 This morning there is no evidence that a train has been down the Hayes line since last night, There is almost an inch of snow on the conductor rails. I did see a train crawling towards Sevenoaks on the other line, but I have still to notice a train heading towards London on the line. I knew from the railway webpage that that trains were unlikely, but I still did my duty and stood around on the freezing station for half an hour before giving up and coming back home again.
7.48am Catford Bridge station 1st Dec 2010
This is Catford Bridge station at 07:48. Normally at this time it would be very crowded, the blue boxes with the free Metro newspaper would be almost empty, and there would not have been half an inch of snow on the conductor rails !
SouthEastern's sorry message
This was the best information that SouthEastern could come up with !
  It seems that the best limited service they could manage was to finally get a train heading towards Hayes at 10:51, and there is no guarantee that it will ever come back to Catford Bridge heading towards London ! By the way SouthEastern it is an Emergency Timetable !

 Hopefully things will be back to normal tomorrow so I don't have to lose another days pay, but the last time this happened (2nd Feb 2009) I had to stay at home for two days ! Today though, I am going to take things easy and stay in the warm.