The Beast from the East

Thursday 01 March 2018, London.

Yay, winter is over!  Spring officially starts today. the first day of March. The signs of its arrival have been showing themselves anew every day over the past week. On Friday I took a few photos of the daffodils that are popping their blooms out of the grass in the parks on the way to work. In fact it was getting light enough and nice enough that I had started thinking about cycling to work.

With predictable unpredictability the official start of spring was marked by the worst weather Britain has seen in decades. ‘The Beast from the East’, as the weather system was dubbed, arrived from the Siberian steppes over the weekend bringing chaos and heavy snow to the north. For us in the south it was a bitter wind that set the ball rolling, preparing us for what was to come.

I left for work on Monday morning, prepared for anything, a very light snow had started to fall just before I left the house and the forecast hinted that this would be the start of a long week of snow.

I was excited to find when I got to work that the snow was still falling. I do not actually work here,  though my office is not far away; and not quite as palatial.

Unfortunately for me, but not so much my work colleagues, or the majority of working Londoners, that seemed to be the end of the snow. There was no layer of white as I walked back to the station after work. Tuesday was equally disappointing. During the day at least, the night was a whole different story!

Peering out of the bedroom window when I awoke on Wednesday I was confronted with a sea of white in the street below me, and to make the sight even more welcoming the sky above was a lovely crisp blue. I was up immediately, feeding the cat and then out to take a couple of pictures in the garden before anything more than the neighbour’s cat left tracks in the fresh blanket.

I am quite lucky in that my commute is quite short and very crowded, it is completely unpleasant. The Victoria Line is fully underground and is not impacted like so many of the overground train lines by adverse weather. I still hate every one of the 25 or so minutes I am underground though; not due to fear of undergroundness, or claustrophobia. I just hate commuting! The only good thing about my commute is exiting the tube at Green Park station, and the 15 minute walk to the office; traversing both Green and St James Parks. I have been waiting all winter for today. Stunning !

Crossing the Mall to take a photo of Buckingham Palace I was told off by the police for standing in the middle of the road. I have been waiting for the right day to take a photo of the dodgy neighbourhood I have to walk through to get to and from work.

St James Park was very busy this morning. At this time of the day it is rare to see more than a couple of tourists, the odd jogger and bunch of bored and tired office workers trudging, head down through the park. Today, there were smiles and ‘good mornings’ and seemingly everyone was taking pictures of the snow and ice. I took a few myself.

The daffodils were looking a lot less happy than they were last week!

That was the end of the sun for a few hours. Lunch time the cloud cover was low, it was grey, bleak, windy cold and snowing. Heading out to buy a sandwich I grabbed the camera to take a couple of pictures as I went. It was not particularly nice, though a large group of tourists were enjoying a snowball fight on the edge of the park.  At least the traffic, which plagues this part of London, was light today. A silver lining in every snow laden cloud.

Fortunately it was all smiles again late afternoon, leaving work early I took a few more pictures as I went.

I also tried my hand at a bit more intentional camera movement, impressionist images as I went.

Obviously this weather system was not all jolly japes like it was for me in relatively unscathed London. It has had a terrible impact on other parts of the UK, with roads and rail lines closed, people stuck in cars for many hours and a number of people losing their lives to the bitter cold. The snow levels in some places hit historic levels, and the cold set new records. It was so hard to plan or predict anything, forecasting seemed to have gotten so much better over the last few years, but this week nothing seemed to work as predicted. Snow fell when it wasn’t supposed to and did not when it was. The one thing they got right was it lasted all week.

Thursday was a blanket of grey, it was colder than it had been all week, colder than the rest of winter, crossing the bridge in St James Park the cross wind was savage. I pity the poor pigeons. Brrrrr. There were no smiling, welcoming commuters today.

I left work early for the fourth day this week (any excuse), a break in the snow was a good time to nip off. El has been sick all week, finally succumbing to the cold I had when we were in St Ives, so I had a mission to make to the chemist on the way home. (Thankfully she is over the worst of it as I write this, four days later). I managed to grab a couple of final snowy images on the way through the St James Park.

Friday was bleak, and I was finally over the cold, windy and damp weather. I still love the snow though.

The Beast from the East finally finished in London with a brief but heavyish snow shower mid-afternoon on Friday, and then it was, thankfully all over. Even I had finally got bored with the snow. Bring on the grey slush !

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Wannabe writer and photographer. Interested in travel and place. From Auckland, New Zealand.