Snow, snow, snow, snow and some more snow…

Very exciting weather in Gloucester, where it hardly ever snows and when it does, it generally doesn’t hang around for very long. Well, this time we had about 60mm, which was enough to transform the landscape and create lots of photo opportunities.

Snowy Gloucester 18.01.13 - 67 Snowy Gloucester 18.01.13 - 58 Snowy Gloucester 18.01.13 - 05 Snowy Gloucester 18.01.13 - 51 Snowy Gloucester 18.01.13 - 52 Snowy Gloucester 18.01.13 - 40 Snowy Gloucester 18.01.13 - 48 Snowy Gloucester 18.01.13 - 34 Snowy Gloucester 18.01.13 - 32 Snowy Gloucester 18.01.13 - 31 Snowy Gloucester 18.01.13 - 18 Snowy Gloucester 18.01.13 - 60 Snowy Gloucester 18.01.13 - 27 Snowy Gloucester 18.01.13 - 10 Snowy Gloucester 18.01.13 - 08 Snowy Gloucester 18.01.13 - 07 Snowy Gloucester 18.01.13 - 06 Snowy Gloucester 18.01.13 - 04 Snowy Gloucester 18.01.13 - 03 Snowy Gloucester 18.01.13 - 02

It normally takes me about 25 minutes to walk the 2km to work, but today, it took closer to 50 – partly due to the slower walking conditions but mostly due to the constant stopping for another picture!

I did eventually get to work and went out again during lunch. It’s such a dramatic and totally different experience and the snow seems to change not only the appearance of the environment, but also the way it functions, including the behaviour of the people who inhabit the place.

Here are the images for display in a gallery format…

Contrasts are enhanced, the light is very even, objects are submerged under, and emerge from the snow, patterns are created and experience is altered. The very recent history of the place is recorded for all to see, in footprints, cycle tracks and writing, then covered over with the next waves of falling snow.

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Jack Frost touches the garden…

While it’s been fairly cold so far this winter, there haven’t been too many dramatic photo opportunities. A few hard frosts has been the extent of the options so far.

Ice crystals 16.01.13 - 6 Ice crystals 16.01.13 - 7 Ice crystals 16.01.13 - 8 Ice crystals 16.01.13 - 2

10cm of snow is forecast over the next 2 days… watch this space! : )

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Glass ice…

I recently unpacked an old box full of pint glasses from my free and easy days at university. One of them had broken and shattered producing hundreds of tiny pieces. I added this glass to a bowl which already had another broken purple glass and decided to create a photo opportunity…

Glass ice 13.01.13 - 12 Glass ice 13.01.13 - 04 Glass ice 13.01.13 - 01 Glass ice 13.01.13 - 09 Glass ice 13.01.13 - 05 Glass ice 13.01.13 - 17 Glass ice 13.01.13 - 11 Glass ice 13.01.13 - 18

Contact sheet: Glass ice 13.01.13

Part of the inspiration is winter and light, with cold hard edges and sharp angles. The torch light enhanced the effects and the colours.

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New bike tyres for winter…

The Giant Rapid road tyres which my bike came with are great in the wet but i’m not confident with them in the cold and wet British winter!

So, in preparation for the colder months, a different set of tyres is needed. Not the most simple task ever considering huge range of tyres out there. The Schwalbe website alone had over 30 types of hybrid tyres! After a few weeks of deliberating, the two contenders are as follows.

Schwalbe Marathon Plus – recommended by various websites and a couple of people at work. Lots of great reviews on Amazon and seems to be a very tough tyre.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/B000JDUMFG/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

Specialized Crossroads Armadillo – again this brand keeps coming up on the best tyres sites. Good brand but no personal recommendations as yet.

http://www.google.co.uk/products/catalog?hl=en&sugexp=les%3B&tok=IqzLqgHH9h5qVDLGoQLmaw&cp=17&gs_id=1u&xhr=t&q=armadillo+bike+tyres&safe=off&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.&biw=1366&bih=649&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=1545213563333053924&sa=X&ei=L2ZbUKz3Loqx0AWV1oC4Cw&sqi=2&ved=0CDsQ8wIwAw

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Jamie & winter…

I was talking to Jamie the other day about the seasons and how it’s coming up to Autumn, which would then turn to winter. I asked what he was looking forward to about Winter (trying to put a positive spin on things!). It took him about a second to say Christmas!

We started to go through all of the reasons why winter is actually a pretty good season.

Log fires: One of my favourites. This year, I worked out how much wood we used from the previous year and ordered that much in early spring. It’s all been chopped and stacked since April and we should have enough to last till March 2012. Log fires are awesome and really raise the spirits on a crap winter day.

Jamie and Jac were loving coming down from having a bath and standing in front of the stove while getting dry. Jamie even asked me about getting the fire lit in the middle of summer so he could do that.

Insulated render: Now we’ve got the whole side and most of the rear of the house insulated, as well as the loft hatch re-done, the heat we do make by the radiators and stove should be kept in the house for longer. We’ve also had new windows front and back which has already made a difference. This should make the cold weather easier to live with.

The boys birthdays: Jamie’s 5th at the end of October then Jac’s 3rd at the end of January. Always lots of fun and breaks up the season each side of Christmas.

Halloween: Lots of potential for fun and excitement, as well as creative ideas for making things. Walking around with spooky lanterns and torches in the garden. Pumpkin pie (using pumpkins from the allotment – not this year but hopefully next!) and ales. Yum.

Claire’s birthday: Last but certainly not least. The middle of February signals the approach of Spring and brighter and warmer times. A good way to finish off the season!

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Pre-Winter house / life organising…

This year we are going to be sorted out before winter hits, around the end of September.

We’ve already had the external insulated¬†render done and I finished chopping our firewood at the end of April (giving a good 6 months seasoning time). We’ve started the allotment and aim to do the major rotavating in the autumn. We’ve painted the stairs fun colours and applied the first coat of paint to the newly plastered upstairs hallway/landing areas.

So, we’re now onto the next phase, which will include getting the wardrobes back onto the landing and out of both the boy’s room and our room, shifting the bed and chest of drawers (which our lovely friends have just given us!) around in our bedroom, buying some tall Ikea storage shelves for the under stairs cupboard, putting all the random boxes and toys in these new shelves, finishing off the last piece of skirting behind the sofa, finishing painting the skirting, re-painting the walls and fire place area, ordering a single stone piece for the hearth (probably Forest of Dean stone), fixing edging around the hearth, painting the shelves to the right of the fireplace, stacking logs under these shelves, finding a battered old armchair to go in front of the logs,¬†fitting the new kitchen worktops and hobb, building the new electric meter box cupboard, cutting the new mixing table to size and building a wooden cover which slides over it all.

I’m sure there’s something i’ve missed out but those are the main things! This will make the winter much more bearable and mean less stress all round.

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Westonbirt winter escape…

The weather looked too good this morning, to pass up on a trip out with the boys. So, we packed up and headed to Westonbirt Arboretum, for some tree-based fun!

There’s loads to do there, including many walks, playground and a number of play areas in the woods. Our membership there expires the first week in March, so I want to make good use of it while it lasts.

So, we had a great time even if it was pretty cold. Some nice sunny patches and no rain and it was quite quiet there. Lots of running around and all the main kids things are pretty close to the parking and visitor centre so pretty good for families. The boys were really getting into the cabin in the woods and Jac would have stayed there even longer.

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Winter insulation jobs…

We’ve been thinking more and more about insulation and how to protect ourselves for the fast approaching winter season.

We’ve put together a list of jobs to do in the next 2 months, which will make a real difference over the cold months.

– Get maybe 3 quotes for external insulated render (nearly got 2)

– Research and fit loft insulation (done)

– Install new loft hatch to stop cold air getting into house (got quote – linked with external render)

– Fit living room skirting boards

– Draft sheets over kitchen window + draft excluder under door

– Fit up heavy curtains in doorway into kitchen

– Fill in & re-point external & internal holes through brick work

– Re-block up second decorative fireplace

– Finish off window storage area with insulation

– Fix up 2nd electric heater

Ok, we might not get all of that done, but we’ll defo do the priority ones, such as the loft hatch, kitchen window and curtains. The render would be ideal, but we still have to get the 2nd quote back and the 3rd one which is for wood fibre boarding, rather than phenolic sheets.

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Wood stored and ready to go…!

Ok, all the logs are officially stored and ready to go.

There’s a smaller stack to the right of the back door which nicely defines the side of the walkway to the garden and there’s a larger stack between the water butt and the potting table. There are before and after pics above for effect!

The last job related to the storing of the wood is to get Claire’s Dad to cut a couple more corrugated iron metal sheets for the roofs of the last logs stores. This will help strengthen them and keep the rain off. I’ve designed them into an undulating form, in a series of mono-pitched roofs, which runs along the 4 stores.

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