Sunday, 6 January 2013

"Great steaming drains Batman, it's cold"

With the heating and hot water (not that we'd know much about hot water) being provided centrally there is a great network of pipes running throughout the city. Some are underground, some above it and most of them leak, so steam rises out of the ground and some rivers/streams continue to run, at least for a little way. Of course once the steam has risen - it freezes again creating some interesting snow/ice sculptures.

More steam rising from the next manhole a bit further up the road. (Those of you in the UK may not recognise the big yellow shiny thing to the left of the picture, it's called the sun, you may have forgotten what it looks like.)

Our walk continued as it often does out to the river and along the embankment. The river is unsurprisingly frozen over completely now,  and is now in use as a thoroughfare. There is a well worn 'road', many other car tracks, and a number of 'footpaths' all clearly visible on what was at one point a flowing river. Sadly the low sun meant the photos did not come out, but as I'm planning on making the river a bit of a run sometime in the next couple of weeks I'll try and get some pictures then.

One of the 'riverside' gers was inhabited and the stove was on, burning cheap coal (rather than tyres) by the smell. Just to emphasize how well suited to this environment those dwellings are, despite the stove belching out smoke and the inside undoubtedly warm and cosy as a result, there was still a layer of snow and ice on the roof, that showed no signs of melting. Now that's insulation.

It was a beautiful day. The track was easy walking, and ... umm...driving - they will drive anywhere, sticking to the roads is simply not part of the psyche.

The riverside embankment/dyke, if it's wide enough for a car and this section is, it gets driven on.
It was a lovely walk but it was cold, the ski pants and all the gear worked well, though we could both have done with jackets that came a little lower and covered a bit more of us and as ever there was the constant battle with visibility, steamed up/frozen up glasses and a frost nipped nose.

You can't cover your nose and wear glasses, they steam up instantly, then the steam freezes, and cleaning them, even with a proper cloth scratches the lens. Also if you do cover your nose, eventually what ever you are using freezes making it hard to breath. So it's a real dance to maximise breathing, see where you are going without going snow blind, and ensuring your nose doesn't turn black on the end. Then without the glasses the moisture from your breath catches on your eyelashes giving you an entertaining white mascara effect.

...and apparently it was 'only' -18C (positively warm ;-)

It's good to be home!

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