Snow, why does it have to be snow? I hate snow.

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There’s a bit in Raiders of the Lost Ark where our illustrious hero, Indiana Jones, peers down into the pit he’s about to enter. He spies a writhing mass of reptilian flesh before collapsing back, ashen faced. “Snakes, why does it have to be snakes?” That’s exactly how I feel about snow. The very sight of the stuff makes me feel bitterly cold to my core.

I explained my prejudices to Maisie, to which she responded “Yes Uncle Martin. Let’s go out and make snow babies!” So either she is already not listening to a word I say at the age of 3 or her aching, burning desire to have fun in the snow trumps my need to avoid frostbite. What exactly is a snow baby anyway? When I grew up, snow creatures only had one gender and they were always grown up.

She wouldn’t take no for an answer and before long we were playing in the snow. I started rolling a ball of snow in an attempt to make a snowman. The snow was far too powdery, and as soon as the ball reached any kind of respectable size, it collapsed in on itself. Maisie was not impressed. I tried to convince her of the inferior quality of the snow, but something in the look she gave me dispelled any notion that she might have believed me.

“Let’s go sledging” I said. In the absence of a purpose-built sledge, I reasoned that the lid of the recycling bin was roughly sledge shaped. Up the hill we trudged. When we got to the top, I gave Maisie a hearty shove. Her progress down the hill was much like that of a reluctant mule. The bin lid travelled slowly and stuttered to a stop with annoying regularity.

2013-01-19 14.45.02Drastic action was needed. A trip to the sledge shop was in order. The man at the shop mentally sized Maisie up before proposing a lime green plastic sledge with a lever on each side to control the brakes. Maisie’s face lit up. “My sledge has brakes!” In her mind, she already owned it. A short while later and we were back on the slopes.

This time, when we reached the top of the hill, a shove wasn’t needed. It was all we could do to hold the sledge in place. Once released, it flew down the hill like a rocket with Maisie squealing with delight. Did it soften my stance towards the cold stuff? No. But I might have secretly had a tiny bit of fun. Just don’t tell anyone.

The romance of travel

"A fanciful view of future airship trave&...

“A fanciful view of future airship trave” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whenever I watch an old Indiana Jones film where they sneak their way onto an airship, I always feel a pang of jealousy that they are using a mode of transport that I probably never will. Modern aircraft feel so claustrophobic with their closely packed seats and tiny windows. The only way to stretch your legs is by dodging the trolley dollies and the toilet-goers in the extremely narrow aisles.

Airship gondolas are always depicted in films as luxurious, spacious affairs with uniformed attendants serving dinner at large tables. Because the gondola hangs below the airship, the passengers have an unimpeded view through the large picture windows. Progress is sedate and dependent on the wind direction, but I can’t imagine a more pleasant way to travel.

I really wouldn’t mind if it took me days to get somewhere. Fit wireless internet and you could even work up there, although if the films are anything to go by, you might get interrupted by the odd murder or gun-toting Nazis looking to take over the world.

I’m not sure I’d feel quite so nostalgic for travelling by ship. If I was travelling on business, according to company policy I’d be in steerage. According to Wikipedia, steerage means limited toilet use, no privacy and poor food. Sounds a bit like economy class on most airlines. The only trouble is that ships are slow. Living in cramped conditions with poor sanitation and loads of other people for extended periods of time leads to disease.

Steam trains hold a special place in my heart too. If I could get aftershave that was eau de steam train, I would buy bottles of the stuff. I simply can’t imagine a nicer smell. There is nothing like the drama of a big steam train pulling into a train station amid clouds of sweet-smelling steam and then pulling out again to a gradually increasing clamour of puffing.

I remember when trains had compartments and really comfortable seats. You also had a reasonable chance of sitting on them too. Trains seemed to be much less busy back then.

With the exception of personal transportation, like the motor car and motorbike, it seems that although transport has become much more efficient, it has also become much more cramped and uncomfortable. When are we going to see a new transport development that takes us back to travelling comfortably without breaking the bank?