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Frozen Britain or Winter Wonderland?

January 11, 2010

Icicles on the roofWe’ve certainly had some interesting weather here in the UK for the last 3 weeks. The week before Christmas we had a hefty snow dump of the kind I’ve not seen in my almost 9 years living here, and it disappeared enough to be able to resume normal activity just in time for Christmas Day. It required just a few minutes of digging to make two wheel ruts to enable me to be able to park again when I got back from visiting family.

Then last week we got another dump that was easily double that of the earlier one. It was forecast for Tuesday evening, and I made it home just in time to still be able to drive up the spur incline to my house and into my garage. If I’d been 15-20 minute later, I’d either have had to dig my way in or park on the street somewhere and risk the car being battered by one of the two nutters on my street who refuse to acknowledge adverse weather conditions (normally because a couple of people will always go outside to dig him out of his predicament). I had 30cm of snow in my back garden following Tuesday’s snow dump and, although it got as high as 4°C yesterday, it hasn’t really budged. The 30cm of fluffy snow has reduced to 10-15cm of crystalline iciness (a bit like an Icee) with a few centimetres of solid, compacted ice underneath.

If you think I’m being melodramatic, the BBC website has created Special Report: Frozen Britain to cover the event, as it’s such a rare occurrence — particularly in the southern half of the country — and it’s being compared to the previous worst cold-weather event almost 50 years ago. Road grit is running out, gas for heating is running low, snow chains and snow shovels are sold out, and the local shops have empty shelves as the delivery lorries can’t reach them (it’s a hilly area).

The plus side is that my freezer is gradually being emptied of older food that would normally have newer stuff placed on top of it, the cupboards are having a good clean out, I’m saving 50 miles of fuel and up to two hours each weekday, and I’m able to be just as productive from home as I am in the office thanks to stable power and Internet, VPN access and voice-over-IP (VoIP) telephony.

And the neighbourhood kids have been loving it. They’ve been sledging like mad for the last week, the valley has resounded with their laughter and fun, and down by the bridleway, someone had built a huge snowman complete with snow sofa and footrests, giving people something (albeit chilly) to sit on and admire. In this age of parents locking their children indoors for fear of bogey men: good for them!

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