Winter Hits The UK Hard

Debbie and I returned home at the weekend from our Christmas trip to Florida to see my daughters, and I consider us to be very lucky, since the northern part of the UK  had already been hit by sub-zero temperatures and record amounts of snow.

It didn’t take long however for Old Man Winter to move south, and by Tuesday we had snow in the south of England.  Fortunately going to work on Tuesday morning it wasn’t as cold as expected, so I didn’t need to scrape the ice off the windows of the car, just use the regular wiper to clean the windows.

Tuesday night we were threatened to have up to a foot of snow, but when I left work it was just light drizzle, and I made it all the way home in almost record time.  It wasn’t half an hour later however when we saw heavy snow falling, but fortunately we only got just over an inch, far less than the forecast said.  

Wednesday morning I set off for work early, expecting to have to have a major scraping job on my hands, and also to have to wade through deep snow, but it was already melting a bit, the car windows were not frozen, so I just had to brush the snow off the car, and got into work 30 minutes earlier than usual.

When I got to work I found that several people who live a bit further out of town and where the snow was falling earlier, had been forced to abandon their cars as they couldn’t get home.  One of them left work at 5pm and didn’t make it home until 11pm, and this is less than ten miles from where I live.  I guess I ought to be grateful that I live where I do.

We had a bit more snow during the day and it was threatening more for the evening, so I decided to leave for home ten minutes early to beat the traffic, and had a good journey home, that is until I almost got home. 

We live halfway up a steep hill, and I managed to take the turning off the main road onto our access road ok, drove the two hundred yards or so along there ok, then made the sharp left turn to go up the hill, and didn’t get too far.  The road was covered in snow and ice, and was too steep for the car to get enough grip to drive more than 20 or 30 yards up the road.   Frustratingly, this was only 20 yards short of where I needed to be to back off the road and down the alley at the back of the house to where I park.  

Well I tried and tried, reversed down the hill and around the corner, tried again, but the car wasn’t going to make it, so I parked at the side of the road and walked the last 1/4 mile home.   I then got changed, put my boots on, grabbed the bucket of salt/grit that we saved from the week before Christmas when we had the last freeze, picked up a garden shovel, and headed back to the car.   I spent a while shovelling snow and ice away from around the wheels, cleared ten feet behind the car and about 20 feet in front, sprinkled the grit down, and tried to get up the hill.   It took me 2 or 3 attempts, including a second round of shoveling having reversed down the hill a few feet, but finally I slithered up the hill and was then able to reverse into the alley.  Phew!

I then took my now empty bucket to the grit bin at the top of the road, hoping to refill it for the next time, but was dismayed to find that the bin was empty.  Not more or less empty though, I don’t think there was enough grit to even fill the palm of my hand.   Oh well…

More snow was forecast Wednesday night, but I woke up this morning to find that nothing had covered my footsteps of last night, however it was bitterly cold, and the snow out the back was crunchy underfoot.   The car windows took forever to scrape as the ice was really hard, and shovel in boot (trunk) I started my way down the alley to the road.

The road was still covered in snow and ice, and there was a car and a van close to the bottom of the slope, both obviously couldn’t make it up the hill the night before.   I turned into the road, then slowly worked my way down the hill, hoping not to slide into either vehicle (which were parked on opposite sides of the road), or to fail to stop and run into the line of trees at the bottom of the road.    I made it, then turned left into the access road, which was really slick and slippery.  At the end of the access road the road turns sharply right and goes downhill, then immediately onto a main road, with traffic that comes around a bend fast.  I decided to go really slowly down the last bit of the access road, because if not I could end up not stopping on what looked like a skating rink, and didn’t relish the idea of sliding into the main road and oncoming traffic.  Luckily the main road was clear, I slithered down the last section of the access road, put my foot down on the accelerator, and started up the main road.  Another sigh of relief…

The main road of course immediately goes up an even steeper hill than where we live, and this is one long haul of a hill too, up one side and then down the other.  Fortunately the road was clear enough, and the rest of the journey to work was uneventful, and also done in practically record time.

Although more snow is forecast and it’s still bitterly cold outside, the sky has been blue all day, and I am hoping that this will be enough for the snow on our road to melt enough for me to get up the hill and home ok.

I emailed the city this morning using their Actionline link to see if we could get more grit in our grit bin, and got a response to say that they would answer my inquire within three days.  Oh joy – maybe we can go shopping on Sunday!  Or maybe not as more snow is forecast for the weekend, and the freezing temperatures are set to continue for another week at least.

As for the two people who didn’t make it home on Tuesday night, neither of them made it into work yesterday or even today.  While the main roads are mostly clear, the side roads after the partial melt and the severe freeze last night have turned them into slick skating rinks, and it’s practically impossible for anyone to go anywhere.

This is so different to my experiences while living in Indiana, where the city had so many snow ploughs and salt trucks, plus a number of other people had pickup trucks with blades on the front to plough side streets and car parks for shopping centres and businesses.  In addition many people shoveled the snow from their own sidewalks or used snowblowers, yet here in England that rarely happens any more. 

Do you have a snow day story to tell?  If so, please leave a comment and let us know.


 

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