THE HOMELESS: A small request to help the less fortunate this winter

London – VIJAY SHAH

According to homelessness and housing issues charity Shelter, there are 320,000 people classified as homeless in the UK, with the number rising by a thousand a month (according to the Guardian newspaper). This has intensified with a combination of factors causing more people finding themselves without a roof over their heads. These factors include rising rents, lack of suitable housing, and a weakened economy owing to the aftermath of the 2008 credit crunch, and now Brexit.

For the homeless forced to live on the streets and in parks, life is unbearable. Many experience mental/physical health and addiction problems, are marginalised by the better-off and face discrimination and outright abuse even. There have been incidences of thugs setting fire to homeless men and urinating on them as they slept.

In Britain, winter is in full swing, with temperatures dropping below freezing now on most nights. People who can go home and warm up with the central heating are understandably frustrated about the cold and chills, but spare a thought for those who only have a tatty and dirty sleeping bag being all that separates them from the harsh icy elements.

StreetLink is a nationwide charity which encourages people to look out for those who are dwelling on the streets and have nowhere else to go. The charity helps connect rough sleepers to services that can help get them off the streets, including emergency shelters and other accommodation. As the harsh British winter continues its relentless grip, readers are being urged to keep an eye for the ignored. If you see someone who is sleeping rough, you can call StreetLink directly on their freephone number 0300 500 0914 and tell the operator where and when you saw the person. The charity will send out a street outreach team to check up on the rough sleeper, and potentially, you could be the one that means that person will not die early and instead see their life turn around for the better. You can also send your notification in via the StreetLink app or their website: streetlink.org.uk

 

SOURCES/IMAGE CREDIT:

Steve Thorogood/Facebook.

“Welcome to StreetLink” – StreetLink https://www.streetlink.org.uk/StreetLink_HomePage

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FOUR MONTHS OF SNOW?: UK may see harsh winter this December

London – VIJAY SHAH via CONNOR BOYD and Mail Online

As autumn officially begins in the United Kingdom, the country has been warned that there is the chance of four months of snow, reports the newspaper Daily Mail. Experts say there could soon be the arrival of wintry conditions set to outclass even the ‘Beast of the East’ phenomenon that has gripped the nation in previous winters.

In summer 2018, the country experienced a record-breaking heatwave that lasted three weeks and saw reservoirs and rivers dry out and hosepipe bans instated. Now this winter could see weather records being broken again, this time in snowfall. Some meteorologists say the cold snap could kick in from November and extend into the first couple of months of the New Year.

 

Cold fronts sweeping from the Arctic region and the Atlantic Ocean could create a perfect storm of sustained snow, combined with the presence of the four-yearly El Niño weather system, seeing icy temperatures from December to February, according to forecaster James Madden, from the company Exacta Weather in an interview with the Daily Express newspaper. The expected cold snap could rival the ‘big freeze’ of 2010, the Mail claimed. A decline in solar activity is also expected around this winter, further exacerbating the frosty situation. El Niño may weaken the air currents which keep Britain warm, creating what meteorologists call a ‘Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW)’, which was responsible for the difficult winter of 2010.

Madden told the Express: All our long-range projections have been showing for quite some time that December is likely to be a colder than average month overall and we are expecting several widespread snowy periods.

‘This year we are expecting potentially hazardous winter conditions from early on in the season.”

However, such a scenario is highly unusual, even for the UK’s infamously variable weather, and the Met Office, which measures, studies and reports on the country’s weather, said predictions become difficult to make for longer than a 30-day period.

SOURCES:

Rabia Ali/Facebook

“Britain could be set for FOUR MONTHS of snow in ‘coldest winter for a decade’ following record-setting summer heatwave” – Connor Boyd, Mail Online News/Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group/Associated Newspapers Ltd (21 September 2018) https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6194981/Britain-set-FOUR-MONTHS-snow-coldest-winter-decade.html?ito=social-facebook

IMAGE CREDIT:

“NX2961 : Winter at Kiltersan” – David Mapley, geograph (27 June 2008) http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/862525 © Copyright David Mapley and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

NORTH INDIA WINTER RAINS: First showers expected 14 November

New Delhi – VIJAY SHAH via skymetweather.com

India’s first band of winter showers are only a weekend away with rain expected to fall over the states of Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan and the capital territory of Delhi, all in northern India, skymetweather.com reported this past Friday.

 

The first few rains to end the dry season are expected to arrive 14 November, the article by Skymet Weather Services reports, as temperatures have noticeably reduced over much of India’s northern plains. According to Skymet, a westerly disturbance (possibly referring to a depression) will take hold over the northernmost state of Jammu and Kashmir on the 13th of this month, inducing a ‘cyclonic circulation’ of cooler air over neighbouring Haryana and Punjab states, the first signs of the upcoming winter season. Punjab, Haryana and parts of north-west Rajasthan will experience some light to moderate showers by 14 November, reports suggest.

The Indian capital, New Delhi, is expected to see increased cloud cover by the same date, with light rains a possibility there too. The capital is currently experiencing a intense smog, that has caused warnings to be issued on air quality to the city’s residents and schools to be closed. People living in the neighbouring Himalayan areas in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh states are also likely to witness their first snowfalls of winter. Once the depression kicks, the entire northern region of India could see temperature drops of around two to four degrees Celsius, driven mainly by chilled air and icy winds blown south from the Himalayas.

SOURCES:

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984

E-Rajasthan, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/e_rajasthan

SkymetWeather, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/SkymetWeather

“First Spell Of Winter Rains In Punjab, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan Likely On November 14” –  skymetweather.com/Skymet Weather Services Pvt. Ltd. (10 November 2017) https://www.skymetweather.com/content/weather-news-and-analysis/first-spell-of-winter-rains-in-punjab-delhi-haryana-rajasthan-likely-on-november-14/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“File:Beauty in the rain.jpg” – Palash vashisth, Wikimedia Commons (28 April 2017) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Beauty_in_the_rain.jpg

PHOTO MOMENT: Hold that pose!!

 

“Hold that pose!”

“That’s the trouble about being a squirrel photographer….all my subjects seem a bit nuts!”

 

**********************

Two red squirrels frolic about in the snow, while one realises her dream of being an ace photographer. The pages of Squirrel Vogue and National Geographic await.

This photo comes from the wildlife and travel collection of Zoraida Palacios, who describes herself as a defender and protector of animals. She is also an art lover with a degree in administration. The tweet was created by Britannia PR, known fully as Britannia Communications Partnership Digital Communications Agency. This public relations agency was ranked number one in a list of 500 agencies in March 2015 on Klout, Peer Index, Kred and Social Authority. Their Twitter account often shares amazing example of scenic and natural photography, as well as images from around the British Isles. They are based in London.

SOURCES:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
Britannia PR, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Britanniacomms
IMAGE CREDIT:
Zoraida Palacios, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/ZoraidaPalacios

PHOTO MOMENT: Cadbury’s Christmas chocolate

(c) Cadbury’s UK

Nothing says “Merry Christmas” like a big chunky bar of chocolate. If it’s festive chocolate, even better. One thing I can tell you about retailers in Britain is that they are so passionate about Christmas that they start bringing out festive themed goodies a good few months in advance. In fact the receptionist at my workplace was even telling me how some shops have already started playing Yuletide carols…and this was on Hallowe’en!!

Chocolate maker Cadbury’s, home of the recently revived Wispa bar, among other niceties, has brought out a new chocolate bar that will join their family-sized Dairy Milk collection for the season of goodwill. The latest slabs of cocoa goodness are called ‘Winter Wonderland‘. Instead of the normal square pieces that you can break off and pamper yourself with, this new sweet thang has little Christmas trees instead, alternating between milk chocolate entirely and more yummy milk chocolate topped with white chocolate. Perhaps the inclusion of white chocolate was to steal a march on Nestle and its Milky Bars in the competitive run-up to the big festive season. Maybe they felt a bit bad and Scrooge-like after recently announcing they would no longer make chocolate coins, a Christmas staple, just two months before the big twenty-fifth. Maybe they love snow. But I think Cadbury’s might be on to something here. I have certainly never seen anything like this before, and rum and raisins is not only unpalatable, but it’s getting somewhat antiquated too.

The Winter Wonderland bar looks both appetising and festive. I can imagine little kids (and big kids at heart) itching like they’re sitting on pine needles to chomp down on some cute and irresistable Christmas trees straight after the roast turkey and trimmings. It’s also a good way of sharing out the festive cheer when you’ve got family coming round.

I have a notorious weakness for chocolate. I mean only yesterday I was up at 12.30 in the morning, spooning out and devouring the remains of a Nutella jar at the back of the cupboard that I had almost completely forgotten about. Thank goodness none of my housemates saw me *piercing scream*. Trust me, I had the munchies and chocolate always hits the spot. Which is why I now have extra weight I need to get rid off. Snacking is a sin against the waistline, people. Just say no.

But come Christmas, even if you are constantly on the hunt for the next ‘revolutionary’ diet, you can forgive yourself for hiding the Atkins or Paleo guidebook behind the sofa and allowing yourself the guilty pleasure of deforesting a big bar of Cadbury’s Winter Wonderland chocolate trees. Even if it turns out to be the middle of April and there’s no-one at home to share with *sly wink*. Mum’s the word.

As Cadbury’s would put it “Who says chocolate doesn’t grow on trees?

(c) apinchofsanity/tumblr

DISCLAIMER: I like all kinds of chocolate, not just Cadbury’s. Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and Fry’s Peppermint Cream often feature on my chocolate hitlists.

SOURCE:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
IMAGE CREDIT:
Cadbury UK, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/CadburyUK
“Sooo… it’s Easter today….” – apinchofsanity, tumblr https://www.tumblr.com/search/I’m+eating+chocolate

ARCTIC WINTER OF 2014: UK set to endure heavy snowfall, polar gales

As the United Kingdom experiences one of its warmest autumns in recorded meteorological history, some forecasters are warning that the winter ahead will be exceptionally harsh. Heavy snow, polar gales, record low temperatures and even blizzards are predicted to strike the entire country as December approaches. The arrival of the super cold weather is expected within weeks, reports the Sunday Express.

Meteorologists have warned that the unusually mild autumn, which saw temperatures of 23 degrees Celsius in the London area over Hallowe’en, will make way for a tough winter, with “extreme and potentially devastating weather” causing considerable disruption to daily life, the Sunday Express claims. While the country has been basking in almost late summer type weather thanks to warm air circulating in from Portugal, experts studying air flows in the upper atmosphere have produced readings using the October Pattern Index (OPI ) have predicted the appearance of an ‘Arctic Oscillation‘ where bitterly cold air seeps in from the Arctic region, bringing in weather typical of that part of the world. The jet stream is substantially weakened. That means cold air which normally is held back over northern Canada, Greenland and other Arctic areas will be free to flow southwards, with the British Isles firmly in its sight. A blast of freezing air will bring with it biting cold winds and above average rates of snow and meteorologists claim that the extreme wintry weather will make its appearance felt around mid-November, according to their OPI predictions. Transport chaos is expected, as airports, motorways and train stations not used to harsh winters struggle to manage the excess amounts of fallen snow and high winds.

(c) NASA/Wikipedia

The OPI was devised by Italian scientists Riccardo Valente and Professor Judah Cohen. They have claimed that the readings on the index taken for this year are disturbingly similar to those calculated during the severe winter of 2009-2010. Ice-cold winds and ankle-deep snow in London at that time caused entire Tube lines to be shut down and grit supplies to run out amid the wintry chaos. The winter of 2009-10 was said to have been the coldest in thirty-one years.

James Madden, forecaster for Exacta Weather said: “We are reaching a stage where the final OPI value is currently at -2.43.

Anything below -1.5 correlates highly with a blocked winter pattern of cold and snow for the UK.

It appears to correlate well with a scenario similar to the winter of 2009/10 at the very least.

In addition to this the Siberian snow cover is also well ahead of schedule and is another strong signal for a harsh winter based on previous studies for a negative Arctic Oscillation for the December to March period.

The worst case and more plausible scenario could bring something on a similar par to the winter of 2009/10, the coldest in 31 years, or an event close to 2010/11 which experienced the coldest December in 100 years.

Another weather expert, Jim Dale, a forecaster with the British Weather Services, told the Sunday Express that experiencing such a mild autumn is a given precursor to an particularly cold winter, as the climate follows a ‘balancing pattern’ where if an autumn is warm, the weather system makes up for the lack of autumnal cold by concentrating it during the winter months in order to achieve temperature balance.

He said: “We could see a sharp difference as the winter unfolds, this mild weather could bring a false sense of security.

There is always another side to the coin and in the long run on the balance of probability we could see a very different picture.

I am not sure about a record winter, but certainly things have a way of balancing out.

(c) Ericoides/Wikipedia

James Madden warned the public to brace themselves for a “shock to the system” with a “significant” snow event possible in weeks, possibly affecting most of the country, including warmer southern areas.

He said: “As we progress throughout November, it will begin to turn gradually cooler, in particular, within the second half of the month as blocking becomes a more prominent feature and the jet stream diverts further south.

This will be due to expanding cold from the Arctic region, and this will also allow for the development of some much colder intrusions of air and snow for the UK.

Some of the snow events are likely to be quite significant with blizzards across higher ground, and a number of potentially notable snow events are also possible across some lower levels within this period, in particular, in some exposed coastal areas to the north and west of the country

We are also likely to see the development of some widespread frosts and rather extensive fog patches across the country within this period, and this will come as quite a shock to what we have experienced throughout this autumn to date.

However, some spikes of milder conditions may also develop within this period, in particular, in some parts to the south of the country, and these will be accompanied by some rather windy and quite stormy conditions at times.

Even as this passing October saw the country experience above-average conditions which saw beach resorts smash profit records for the half-term break, several local authorities have already begun winter preparations, including organising fleets of gritters and filling grit banks. They are keep a close watch on temperatures as November 2014 progresses, which may give only two weeks to get ready for the deluge of snow and icy winds that the weather watchers are predicting.

In Aberdeen, Scotland, a council spokesman said: “We have started monitoring temperatures and if there is a snap frost in a week’s time we are ready to respond “.

A spokeswoman for Orkney Islands Council said the authority is gearing up for the winter season by preparing gritters and other equipment.

The super winter of 2009 and 2010, which the media dubbed the ‘Big Freeze’ brought so much snow to the British Isles that satellite pictures taken from outer space at the time showed the entire country covered in white. Temperatures of −17.6 °C (0.3 °F) were reported in the Manchester urban area in January 2010. In the same month, a far lower reading was made at the remote village of Altnaharra, Scotland where thermometers showed a finger-numbing −22.3 °C (−8.1 °F). The tough winter saw widespread transport disruption, school closures, power failures, the postponement of sporting events and 25 deaths. Thousands of injuries were seen by doctors and medical workers from road accidents and people slipping on black ice. The Met Office issued severe weather warnings for nearly all parts of the United Kingdom. At the time, the RSA Insurance Group estimated that the cold weather was costing £690 million per day, due to people unable to get to work or deliver goods, among other factors. Extra potholes and burst water pipes on roads are also believed to have cost £61 million and £20 million in repairs. Use of natural gas increased by one-third as people battled to keep the extreme cold from their homes.

SOURCES:
Vipul Bhundia via Inga Nelson, Facebook/Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/
“Britain to face ARCTIC WINTER as mild autumn triggers polar gales and heavy snow” – Nathan Rao, Sunday Express/Northern and Shell Media Publications (28 October 2014) http://www.express.co.uk/news/nature/528643/Winter-2014-weather-warning-snow-arctic-freezing-temperatures-forecast
“Winter of 2009–10 in Great Britain and Ireland” – Wikipedia/ Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_of_2009%E2%80%9310_in_Great_Britain_and_Ireland
IMAGE CREDITS:
“File:Great Britain Snowy.jpg” – Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS/NASA, Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (9 January 2010) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Great_Britain_Snowy.jpg
“File:Alton 10 Jan.JPG” – Ericoides, Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.(10 January 2010) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Alton_10_Jan.JPG

 

ANNOUNCEMENT: HalfEatenMind unveils theme wallpaper for Christmas 2012

By Vijay Shah

The festival of peace and goodwill to all men (and women) on Earth is just a couple of weeks away, and already nearly everyone is gearing up for the Christmas season. The stores are awash with fresh plastic trees, mince pies and all manner of various treats and presents for the loved ones. Houses and workplaces up and down the country are being bedecked in tinsel, lights and decorations as people collectively get into the festive spirit.

The first snows of December have already fallen here in Stratford, although sadly were early in the morning and did not stick around for long. The Christmas adverts on the television are already running at full pelt, and a few days ago I played witness to a Xmas episode of Futurama. Outside of the televised world I took receipt of a mug decorated with a London Underground map for a present at my workplace’s Secret Santa event. A small gift maybe, but at least I could thank my lucky Stars of Bethlehem it was not a garish red and green Christmas edition woolly jumper. That garment with the misshapen reindeer that you promise you will wear to the office party but inevitably will abandon to gather dust in the darkest corner of your wardrobe.

In cyberspace meanwhile, the Half-Eaten Mind’s site landlord WordPress is commemorating Christmas with tiny snowflakes falling from the toolbar over the webpage/dashboard, since the beginning of December (other bloggers will know what I mean).

But here we do not do things by halves. Once again, in the grand decorative tradition of the Half-Eaten Mind wallpaper, duly remembering that Christmas is about honouring the traditions of old; I showcase you the image that will form the blog background from today up until the New Year.

(c) Blingeasy.com via Tommy Writer

When I was a child, I enjoyed receiving Xmas cards and reading the messages contained within but also stopping to admire the pretty and mythologically enchanting scenes that appeared on the cover. Red-chested robins perched on mistletoe branches above thick snow, a pair of siblings with their sleds building a snowman, and the usual Saint Nicholas, reindeer, sleighs and other totems of the artists visualising a quaint, old-fashioned family Christmas in the northern hemisphere.

I found this image from the website of another blogger, Tommy Writer. Based on Google’s Blogger, a rival blogging network to WordPress (but I am sure they don’t mind), Tommy works as an entrepreneur in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.

I chose this image precisely because it reminds me of those sweet little greetings cards. All the festive motifs are there: tonnes of freshly-fallen snow, the snow figure with his icy vacant expression graced with the traditional carrot for a nose, the spruce tree, a house lit by Yuletide candles… and this being an animated GIF image, the flashing lights and ‘disco snow’ – a theme reminiscent to me, of the fascination with the lights glowing around my family tree from my youth. Reds, whites, greens and oranges. All illuminating our humble Christmas tree in an aura of colour – instilling it as the epicentre of our otherwise fairly ordinary British family living-room. That had always helped in its own small way bring alive the Christmas spirit.

From me here at the Half-Eaten Mind, I wish my family, friends, supporters and all our Brainiacs a truly Merry Christmas 2012.

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Merry Christmas! 圣诞快乐!” – TommyWriter | All about Tommy’s Discoveries LINK