Apparently there are two different definitions of winter. One says winter starts on the 21st December and the other, from the Met Office, keeps it simpler by starting it at the beginning of December.
So if you listen to the Met Office, it’s winter now. And I have to say, after the last few weeks, it’s felt it! Floods, hail, gales… it’s definitely not summer any more.
It made me think, with all the proper British weather we’ve been having, how much I was using various websites that not everyone would know about to make sure I knew what was going on.
For example, when there was flooding in Cumbria last week, I was using websites to check whether roads were passable, how bad it was, how bad is was likely to be and so on.
So here are a few websites that can be particularly useful in winter.
This is the AA’s traffic updates – what roads are closed, where there are accidents or roads blocks or just congestion (you have to tick a box on the left to get it to show this one).
There’s also http://www.highways.gov.uk/traffic-information/ from the Highways agency – this shows roadworks and traffic incidents.
If you’re going on the motorway you can even go to www.motorwaycameras.co.uk and see what the cameras on the motorways see, so you can not only see what the congestion is like but also have a really good idea of conditions – handy if you want to check for snow…
You can also see local news, to see if there are reports of bridges down, roads washed away or just a bit of snow blocking a road. Most local newspapers have websites, so you could go to www.google.co.uk and type in the name of your local paper, but you can also go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/news, then click on England, Scotland or whichever just under the red bar at the top, then choose your region when the next page appears.
You can also listen to local radio stations online – for example at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/stations (then pick your local one) if you’re listening out for any news about bad weather.
And you can check the weather itself – I tend to use http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather because it has a nice simple layout so you can quickly see what the weather is likely to be over the next 5 days. Especially if you set your postcode as a “favourite location” over on the right of the page, so it remembers where you are next time you go to the webpage. Oh, and you can get more detail on one particular day by clicking on it.
On the other hand my wife always tells me the Met Office website is better because it’s easier to get more detail. You can get to that one at http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/
Funnily enough the other website I was going to mention is Facebook. If you are on it, it can be useful in bad weather like we’ve had in two ways – one because it’s an easy way to let people know you’re all right if you’re in an area where they might be worried about you. Secondly because people tend to share information about how it is in their area… and even photos. So it can be one of the quickest ways to find out about a particular area, sometimes before the newspapers or radio have even heard!
Of course, hopefully the weather will ease off a bit – no more flooding and just enough snow for building a snowman and playing on sledges, without cutting anyone off. But just in case, it’s worth knowing about these sites, so you can check what’s going on it the weather does affect you.
Last chance before these are taken out of print…
You’ve probably noticed I’ve been running some special half-price clearance offers over the last few weeks, to get rid of some videos that were stored where we’ve just built an office in the warehouse. Emma and Simone are now happily in the new office (though they can’t quite agree whether it’s painted grey or purple…) and we’ve cleared a lot of what we had but we have a few copies of some of them left.
So if you’re at all interested in any of them, this is your last chance before they’re taken out of print.
Here are the links to find out more about each one:
Digital Photography videos – covering both using your digital camera and then putting the photos onto your computer and what to do with them then. Here’s the info.
eBay videos – covering buying, selling, finding things you’d normally buy in the shops, but cheaper and how to get a good price if you want to sell things you’ve had cluttering up the place! You can read more here.
Word and Excel videos – these are all sold out now – we don’t have a single copy left! If you were still thinking of ordering one, sorry!
Family History videos – covering how to find out about your family history on the internet, so you don’t have to traipse round cold libraries and records offices (unless you want to – it could be part of the fun). Whether you’re thinking about it for you or as a Christmas present, read information (and if you like, order one) is here
As I say, after this week, these will all be going out of print, so if you’re at all interested, best act now.