Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Weather

Heathrow Airport is having another bad time because of the fog that keeps getting dense. Although flights continue to use the airport there are less of them for safety reasons. British Airways are on the receiving end of vitriol because their passengers cannot make the journeys they had planned. Considering the airport runs at 98% capacity it cannot be surprising that it takes very little to disrupt an even flow of traffic.
All those people who consider it the in-thing to live and work in London place themselves at risk of disruption to travel simply because there are too many people living in one place. They can be affected by transport strikes, bombers, roadworks, snow on the line, leaves on the line and a host of other features affecting travel. Despite some efforts to move people out to other locations they continue to cling to London and the home counties.
Whilst so many people continue to be affected by fog there are 67,000 people who have had all day sunshine yesterday and look likely to have it today and for the nex few days. Those people live in Anglesey where the best weather is just now. Not that long ago I was talking to a weapons instructor at RAF Valley whose flights were delayed because of bad visibility - not in Anglesey, but in the area used for weapons training. The only thing that looked like fog in Anglesey this week was a mist hanging over the Menai Strait between the two bridges. As we travelled over to Rochdale we encountered fog in the Queensferry area. Apart from this western end of the M56 there was no problem with fog.
Sunny days are a winter feature in Anglesey even if the temperature drops to freezing. Even so we can report that our pelagoniums lasted all winter two years ago. They continued flowering again in the following spring and summer. Now that we have a greenhouse we shall see if the winter kills off the plants we have put in pots there.
This year, if the weather stays as forecast, we shall be able to walk on a local beach bathed in sunshine! Now that is how we like to celebrate Christmas. Mind you, it is only days since we experienced rain and gales continuously for over two weeks. Anglesey is certainly prone to high winds as well as sunny days. As the winds blew and the rain poured we had a problem in our additional loo. There was water on the floor and it was seeping from under the skirting board. It seemed obvious that we had water coming down the wall cavity. I went aloft to examine the roof. There was no problem - not a single tile was out of place. As I descended my ladder I spotted a large crack in the pebble dashing. During a lull in the gale I covered it with mortar. The next morning showed my handiwork completely blown away. I went to B & Q and bought some rapid setting mortar and this time the stuff stayed where it was.
We inspected the loo and the water was still seeping in! I had to remove the skirting board to see better what was happening. The first 2/3 inches of the wall above the floor were wet. Maybe there was a residual pool of water at the bottom of the cavity. Then, out of the corner of my eye I spotted the cause. The toilet cistern was leaking through a joint on the overflow pipe. I tightened it up and there was no difference. The water on the floor had dripped through the joint onto the floor, run behind the skirting board and then run back onto the floor. These things are sent to try us!
Luuckily we are waiting for a renewal of the loo and the addition of a washbasin so the problem will be permantly solved fairly soon.
But it shows that just because you have had two weeks plus of howling gales this is no reason to worry that the house is not weatherproof. The new uPVC windows have held back the weather so we now have the hottest bathroom in the world! When the plumber installed central heating just after we moved in he calculated the radiator strengths for each room including the bathroom. He got it wrong for this room where it is extremely warm with the radiator set on 1. He showed us a huge heated towel rail which was, he said, the correct size to be able to heat the bathroon. When we saw how big it was we dropped the whole idea of having a towel rail and opted for a radiator. But still the bathroom is tropical!
One thing which is often a chore at this time of year is the transporting of excess packaging to the local tip. It usually happens after Christmas but I had to make a trip this morning. There were cardboard cartons to be disposed of due to the acquisition of a new TV, a TV table, and a case of wine. So off I went to the island tip and disposed of it all. As I set off from Amlwch I was flashed by an oncoming driver. "Ha, ha" I thought, "There is trouble ahead!" Other drivers flashed me to confirm my thoughts. A short way further along the A5025 was the expected item of trouble! It was one of the Arrive Alive vans. North Wales Police employ these vans as mobile speed traps as they say they cannot afford to use static cameras. The local authority makes the comment that the vans are very clearly marked. This is true. Each one is a different colour and the drivers park them "in hiding" to catch the unwary. They have an opening window at the back and on the side so the camera can be used to make much money for the road safety aspects of local life.
Police officers have commented that at some places where they are employed the vans generate thousands of pounds. Of course, this tells you that they are not doing their job. They are not deterring drivers from speeding - just making lots of cash from the resulting fines. This is all because we have a chief constable who has an obsession with speeding. So, beware the trap of speeding along in Anglesey, celebrating the Christmas weather and collecting 3 points on your licemnce. Few new residents on the island have avoided this situation. They have been used to their local police being encouraged to do their job using common sense.
Well, all that remains is to wish you all "Nadolig Llawen - a joyful Christmas!"


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