February 2009


Planarity link  from brilliant maths blog; think again!

wordle21another wordle

We drove the car as far as it would go up the lane.  Then we put on our boots and head-torches and loaded ourselves up with packs before heading into the cold winter darkness and away from some of the luxuries of civilisation.  Only some of them.

Poppy was the first to great us with half excited half guarding barks.  But them she accepted us and welcomed us in with her owners.  We dined and sipped wine by the cracking fire as we listened to stories from strangers as they turned into friends.  In the early hours we retired to a bunk-room.  We wrapped ourselves in down and slept as the wind roared into the  granite walls.   Walls that stand guardian high up in the Mournes.


On Saturday we lit the fire in the wee bunkhouse, the first fire all winter.  The old stone sucked every ember of heat out of the fire for hours.  Some friends arrived as the sun began to crawl away.  We started dinner in reverse by sampling the dessert.  Darkness was here and it was time to do the most unnatural of things; head into the mountains.

I cannot describe how amazing the mountains were.  I can only tell you what the conditions were like; a clear sky full of stars, a wolf moon nearly full, mountains covered in snow, visibility for miles.  I even got to christen my ice axe with its first ice and its first mountain.  I christened it fiach dubh.

The snow was amazing and although it must have been about -5 before windchill; we felt fine.   After descending we arrived to a welcoming fire and walls that held some heat.  We dined and laughed and dined some more.

In the morning I learned a lesson.  Prior to the weekend some people had gotten a little worried about the conditions.  Would it be dangerous?  Would it be too slippy or too cold?  My attitute was that you won’t know until you try.  I insisted that all would be ok as long as we had the chance to see and turn back if it was bad.  Then in the morning before we went home I felt that anxiety.  Not about mountains or walking in them at night, but about getting down the lane in the cars.  The roles were now reversed as the snow began falling heavy in the morning and I looked at it with worry.  What if we can’t get the cars down?  I watched one of my friends begin to relight the fire before breakfast.  A little voice inside wanted to speak up; WE HAVE NO TIME! WE HAVE TO GET DOWN.  The snow began to fall thickly and heavy.  Everybody carried on as normal, preparing a large breakfast/lunch as the fire threw warmth back into the cottage.  Everything was fine, that was my lesson. Getting down the lane was only a little scary with the cars.  If we had got snowed in then there was not much we could have done.  We had food and warmth and good company.



tallie with a slight dusting of snow and a look that is full of sadness and a desire to be in the warmth

Strange day today. The snow was coming down lightly as I left the house but not lying on the ground, just wet.  On the radio they dropped in little nuggets of snow news; roads problematic, be careful.  My ears picked up a little about heavy snow in Glengormley.  I looked out the window to see Glengormley relatively snow free, just a little frosting.  But Glengormley always looks like this all year round in its arctic micro climate.  On the M2, still very little snow, I hear the radio mention the dangerous conditions in Belfast.  I was confused.  Until I got right into the middle of the city.  Snow.  The traffic began to slow at 8.00 am, just before it all ground to a halt.


we few begin the day and man the phones

In school I sat in the office as all staff manned the phones; “are you open?”, “I can’t get in”, ” I am stuck in traffic”.  We are open, we will be here.

I spent the morning roaming the playground and pitches as I got more and more soggy.  My shoes were holding back the water a little better than they used to as I had wax polished them only a few days prior.  Foresight?  Too bad I didn’t have the foresight to bring a hat to school.

The entire pupil population gathered in the hall for a very long assembly.  Normally they would not all fit but mysteriously not all were present.

Still I wandered the grounds herding them in.  “No playing in the snow!”  This is a harsh line to take but it ensured they would not get soaking wet and feel cold all day.  They pleaded with me but I reassured them, “School is not about having fun.  School is about learning, and today’s lesson is that life is not fair.”  A little voice in my head shaped like a snowman kept screaming; “let them play, throw snowballs.”  I kept it silent to the world and remained in teacher mode.  ***sigh***


returning to the snowless home the sun crawls away


One last thing.  Apparently we should not worry about the lovely Sharon freezing tonight.  She has just returned from a run and tells me that she just got gritted.

“His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”

James Joyce’s The Dead

From this article. Well worth a read.