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Saturday, 13 March 2010

I C U, Icy Me

Note: High resolution images of some of the following photos are available. These photos are marked with [HiRes] tags in their captions. Click on the photos to view their higher resolution images.

Before coming to Nottingham. seniors told me "you'll be able to experience snow for the first time, with any luck". They made it sound as if snowfall is a once-a-year affair in UK.

The truth is, however, the past winter had been the coldest in UK since decades ago (1970s?). I guess I got quite lucky then.

[HiRes] Snow scenes are challenging to cameras, due to high contrasts, and this is simply too much for my old Nikon to handle. Also, the same ol' camera had trouble catching actual snowfall due to the lack of sunlight.

It snowed on daily basis in Nottingham during the peak of the winter. Unlike rainfall, snowfall is virtually silent, so I've always found it a little surprising to look out the window and realise it was snowing.

Snow Blanket
[HiRes] Peak of winter -- snow covered everything. I don't know why this picture deserved a HiRes.

As a friend mentioned, the fascination of snow is quite unexplainable. After all, we see those things every day in the fridge.

[HiRes] Close-up of snow.

Us people who have never seen snow before would surely be excited to find the world covered with fluffy white stuff.

Or to see big white flakes of dandruff falling from the heavens above. Someone up there needs better shampoo, I guess.

Thoughts quickly came. Snowball fights! Snowmen! Snow angels!

Snow Angel
[HiRes] Snow angel.

It's harder to build a snowman than I had anticipated. How did they ever make them so round? Stupid Disney cartoons involving Donald Duck, Huey, Dewey and Louie misled me.

[HiRes] An example of a better-built snowman. I obviously didn't built it.

"I'm Melting!"
The same snowman losing some of its shape the next morning.

The fun will eventually wear away though. And once that happens, things will not be half as funny any more.

The weather has to be freaking cold for snow to occur, and you wouldn't want anything else than to lie in your warm bed until, um, never. Try going out for two minutes without your gloves and your hands will start aching like they're crushed under a 2-tonne lorry. Your nose would leak faster than the underground pipes in Malaysia.

And worst of all, the roads.

Tyre Tracks
Tyre tracks in Jubilee Campus car park, University of Nottingham.

Snow itself isn't that much of a problem, other than emitting the 'crunch crunch' sounds upon stepping on it. The problem is when friction creates enough heat to melt the snow into water. The water will then re-freeze into ice, making roads slippery. Water also seeps into small holes, creating cracks and potholes if it freezes over and expands.

Imagine walking for 500m and slipping once every few steps.

Travelling may be impossible in extreme conditions, and there were talks about extending the Christmas breaks in January (which didn't come through, if you were wondering).

Icy Bus Stop
[HiRes] Faraday Road bus stop, right beside Raleigh Park, where I'm staying. This stretch of icy pavement was where I slipped the most back then.

For these reasons, the roads and pavements have to be gritted regularly over the course of winter. Salt lowers the freezing temperature of water, melting ice, and small sand particles (or grit) help increase friction to permit travelling. Unfortunately, the roads in Nottingham weren't very well gritted, and as I said in Twitter, I've never had that much trouble walking since I was, like, 5.

Railroad in Winter
[HiRes] Railway tracks, covered with snow. Find the snowman! (It's the very same snowman shown in the two pictures above.)

Nevertheless, this may be the only winter I get to experience in my entire lifetime. I figured it's worth freezing for an hour or two and a few scratches on my knees to catch some photos before the opportunity goes away forever.

[HiRes] This photo looked good in my head, bad in my camera, yet turned out well after editing. The big red seal sort of spoiled it though.

Coming up soon -- Jubilee Campus in winter.

Winter Road
[HiRes] Winter Road. My favourite photo of the batch. I have no idea how one tells temperature and hardness by sight, but the road looks quite hard and cold. Notice that it is also slightly reflective.


  1. Haha, were you the person who risked hypothermia to get the snow angel done ? :p Beautiful pictures. Me likes the Faraday Road Bus Stop one most. The naked trees set against the blue of the sky lend such a beautiful air to the composition...

  2. no that wasn't me, it was just there when i passed by haha. i didn't want to get my jacket all wet and cold.

    and the trees here ARE still naked, though the small flowery shrubs are already blossoming. and you bet i have pictures of them haha.


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