Over the past few days in the media, there have been some stunning photos taken in our county of the quintessential English snowy dream, picturesque villages and moody sea shots. However, these images don’t convey the reality of living in this idyll in really poor weather. Here is my guide of life in a rural setting in poor weather.
- The first day of snow is magical. It is so unexpected as little snow falls at the coast. It is amazing to watch the flakes fall, the hills and fields surrounding the town become dusted white and the joy and excitement of the children captivates and delights all. The children run home from school to make snowmen, throw snowballs in a blizzard of snow and simply squeal and dance in delight. The photos taken from this afternoon will give you the feels for years to come, that look in the childrens’ faces of pure happiness is perfection. We love the snow.
- Later in the evening, the reality of the poor weather becomes clear. We are so rural in a very large county that our roads, many minor or country roads have not been treated in advance. Colleagues have had accidents on the way home from work in blizzard conditions. Some have been sat in cars on country roads for 4 hours, others are in rescue centres, others have abandoned their cars and walked, whilst others have been able to turn around and return to work. Suddenly snow is not quite so magical.
- The poor road conditions mean that our town is now completely cut off, the emergency services have closed the routes to town due to serious accidents and incidents. There is no chance of gritters tonight, they are focusing on the dual carriage ways which themselves are blocked with accidents, the county is in gridlock. And then along with the snow, the freezing rain starts to fall making difficult conditions, lethal. You are thankful to be safe and warm at home.
- A new snow day and whilst the scene looks beautiful and picture perfect the conditions are the worst you have ever seen. The freezing rain and temperatures mean that every surface is now under at least two inches of thick, black ice. There are no vehicles on the roads and the very few people you see trying to gingerly walk along the road all fall. We live on a steep hill and are now house bound, no fun walks for snow ball fights and sledging, we are stuck in our house. Snow is beginning to lose its charm.
- Time for some community action, messages on social media ensure that the doctor has a volunteer driver in a 4×4 for urgent home visits, neighbours check on each other, those with the appropriate skills and equipment try to help others. This is the feel good moment, when you are proud of living in a community.
- Its time for planning now and careful rationing of food. You start to make calculations of how much milk and bread you can have per day and how to best use the food you have in the house. We have been here before, 7 years ago, so we do have a carton of UHT milk in the cupboard and there is enough food in the fridge and cupboards to feed us comfortably for the days to follow. There’s no panic buying here, simply because nobody can get to the supermarket and we’ll all survive! In our house, we use the time to enjoy preparing warm, filling meals, a parsnip and apple soup, casserole with homemade dumplings. At least the snow days have given us the time to employ a little hygge.
- At last, we have some gritters on our road, it is now Friday afternoon and the snow started on Tuesday. Today’s heroes wear high viz vests.
- Cabin fever is apparent, Mr S catchphrase ‘Close the door, keep the heat in’ is said on repeat and we have exhausted our family favourite activities, craft, cooking, screen time, movie, table football etc.. The children desperately want to play outside as it looks so gorgeous yet we can’t even go down the steps outside the house because of the ice. We reluctantly conclude that a snow day is only fun if you get to be in the snow. Our entertainment now is carefully watching the temperature slowly rise in percentage points on our thermometer.
- As we go to bed we open the back door and start to hear the crackling of the ice, the dripping of water, what a relief. It looks like the forecast is correct and we may get grey, mild and wet weather tomorrow and we’ve never been happier for such a dismal forecast.