Cabin fever

Source: Telegraph / PA

Another day of working from home and I now have cabin fever. I’ll go in tomorrow unless the weather really turns bad – which I don’t think it will.

Have just been out to do some shopping. Absolutely grim out on the pavements as much of the heavy snow (we had over 10″) is now turning to slush so it’s really disgusting. We do have sun and blue skies though, so that’s something.

We’ve had wall to wall coverage on BBC News24 / Sky News about the ‘snow event’ – the heaviest snowfall for 18 years. Much of the country was at a standstill yesterday and today – 5,000 schools are closed and a vast swathe of the country is still not at work (5 million today; yesterday it was 6.4 million).

I am reminded – as anyone here must be – of the British obsession with the weather, a fixation that at times seems to border on the messianic. Jeremy Paxman alluded to this on Newsnight last night. Really – it doesn’t matter what the weather is like in this country – a bit too dry, too cold (as it was in January), too hot, too wet, too windy – and there will be mass coverage and commentary across all strata of society. Whilst many national stereotypes fall slightly wide of the mark – this one most definitely rings true. For foreigners here (of which there are many), it must all be quite amusing to see how the British react (and an amusing article in The Times with overseas observations).

For my part, the novelty is definitely over and I really do want business as usual. This has been a long, long winter for more reasons than one. Extremely cold over much of January and now all this snow; am really hoping spring is around the corner.

So I’ve tried to work from home but have really struggled; I just can’t get motivated. I’m on email and on the phone with the office intermittently, but I can’t knuckle down. So I’ve been out to do some shopping. Am going to make my trademark meat sauce later (bolognese or cottage pie base and it is delicious – I’ve made it so many times) which required a visit to the butcher. I’m lucky because it’s a really good London butcher – a dying breed these days (and I have long lamented the fact that we don’t have a greengrocer here). So I bought 1/2 kilo of steak mince and also some cheese which caught my eye.

I’m always slightly perturbed by the way the butchers (it’s a family firm) don’t bother with plastic gloves or suchlike – as you’d get at the supermarket – instead using bare hands dug deep into the mince and then into a paper wrapping. Same when it comes to handling money – no cleaning of hands. They are salt of the earth types and the meat is very good indeed – so I tend not to worry, but I’ve always been a bit OCD about meat (and in fact don’t eat much of it – I don’t eat chicken or lamb on animal welfare grounds, for example). That said, British pork and beef I am partial to but I don’t eat the imported stuff.

So I shall cook a bit later. I may go down on my hands and knees and scrub the bathroom floor, too. I hate cleaning but it has to be done (in lieu of a male French maid!)

Oh, and I treated myself. Of course I blame Ryan. He plugged Robert Frank’s opus to such an extent that I just had to buy it myself (seems cheapest at Waterstones online though not currently in stock). So I shall look forward to that whenever it arrives; it’s on special order.

11 thoughts on “Cabin fever

  1. It’s interesting to see how other parts of the world put up with large amounts of snow. I’m originally from northeast US where we gets lots of it, but have been in FL for the last 24 years, a the winter months here are a blessing from the awful heat and humidity of the summer.

    The meat sauce sounds intriguing. Would you care to share the recipe?

    Good luck,


  2. Paul – Yeh, I bet FL is rather nice after the long harsh winters of the northeast. I spent a year as a student in Mass. in the early 1990s and I remember we had a very cold winter.

    I thought I had the recipe on my blog but I don’t, so I’ll post it again in the next blog entry as I need to have it to hand!

  3. I think Canadians can give you a run for your money on the weather obsession thing. I personally have been known to “watch” the weather channel, and for more than 5 min. to get the current conditions. One of the weather channel guys was actually elected to parliament I’m pretty sure based mostly on his weather channel personality. We hate the weather but love to complain about it and discuss it ad nauseum.

    Slush is gross and ugly. Hope you guys get back to “normal” tomorrow.

    Oh and you should eat Canadian beef, its yummy. Always doing my best to promote the industry abroad.🙂

  4. Tam – I spent 2 weeks in Canada in 2007. Lovely country! As Ryan will tell you, my plan is to emigrate there – one day. Yeh, you guys are weather aficionados too it seems! I’m sure our weather here is not dissimilar to parts of Canada.

  5. We would love to have you in Canada I’m sure. 🙂 I think Victoria is the London of Canada. Never too hot, lots of rain, rarely snow (except this year for both cities it seems).

  6. i blame ryan too. i clicked on his name on one of the comments he left on this blog. i ended up reading his (excellent) blog for well over an hour.😉 well done sir, well done!

    and weather obsession? you’d really crack up if watched how southern californians will freak out and go on “storm watch” when we get a wee little rainstorm.

    i used to be one of the weather wimps too. then i moved to denver. now there’s some serious snow……

  7. Tam – why thank you! I enjoyed Victoria, nice city! Reminds me of a Scottish city – perhaps Edinburgh or Aberden, probably because there is so much wilderness around it. I went whale watching in the Juan de Fuca Straits from Victoria and had an amazing time!

    Derek – Ryan is “eccentricity elevated to an art form” ™, something I’ve said for a long time!🙂 His blog is usually a rich source of inspiration, for sure! I actually quite like extreme weather so would be partial to some storm chasing over there!

  8. I’d heard that they’re advising food handlers not to use gloves now because when wearing gloves they wash their hands less and there’s more cross contamination involved. Of course that goes out the window when they’re cross-contaminating your ground beef with the residue of unwashed coins.

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