Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Ice is not nice

This morning on my way in to work I got stuck half way up a not particularly steep hill. The road was so slippery that a man watching me was sliding along while trying to stand still. Even when I put the brakes on to stop going backwards (when I couldn't go forward any more) I kept on moving. I had to reverse down the hill with very little control, trying not to hit the cars parked along one side (these apparently belonged to people who lived at the top of the hill as none of them had been able to get up there either). Fortunately, I suceeded, but it was quite a shock - far worse than snow, which is at least visible.
I am not looking forward to getting home tonight. It will be main roads and taking it easy. I might not even take the short cut through the industrial estate as there are hills there and I doubt there has been much traffic this evening.
I also can't believe how many people have ventured out on icy roads to come to the cinema. I know it's Orange Wednesday, but what's the point in getting a free ticket when you may also crunch your car?

Friday, 8 January 2010

It's cold!

Last night as I drove home from work, the temperature about a mile outside the village dropped as low as -9 Celsius. In the village it was a balmy -6. I realised this morning that we had reached a whole new level of chilliness when I glanced out of the window and saw that the people who live in the bungalow on the other side of the lane had shut their windows! They are hardy souls and their windows are usually open night and day, all year round.
Dug out some coal from the shed, and when it starts to get dark I will light the fire. During the day time the sun helps to heat the front rooms - the temperature in here is currently 20 degrees, but in the kitchen, which is north facing, it's struggled to get up to 16. I am nice and warm after an invigorating walk around the village, and the cat has just come in after a brief venture outdoors too. I keep wondering how he is managing to dig holes to do his business as the ground has been frozen solid for days.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Winter warmth

It's about -5 this evening, and we are caught in the grip of an icy spell. I don't remember there being such a long period of cold weather for many years. We haven't had much snow here - it all tends to fall on the Peak District and leaves us untouched - but it is cold and frosty all day. I have had the greenhouse heater going non-stop to keep everything frost free, and the heating in the house hasn't been off since before Christmas. This is an old house, with solid walls, and once the heating is off, the cold presses in through the brickwork and takes the temperature down fairly rapidly. It then takes about 8 - 10 hours to get it warm again. When I am at home (like this evening) I light a fire, not so much because it's needed, as to warm the soul against the dark winter just outside the windows. This morning I bought some logs at Findern garden centre as I like the smell of wood smoke, and the coal shed is nearly empty anyway.
Earlier this evening, there was an almost Dickensian moment. Someone knocked on the back door (no-one except salespeople ever use the front door, and as it is stuck at the moment, that is a good thing). It was my neighbour, on his way in from work.
"Do you have any coal we can borrow," he asked, "All the suppliers have run out."
I gave him what was left in my bucket, but it was small stuff that falls through the grate. He trudged off up the frozen stones of the yard and I went back to my glass of wine and blazing fire. Just like me, the neighbours have central heating as well, and I thought they probably just wanted to light a fire for the same reason. But their house has even more outside walls than mine, and it is colder because of the huge conservatory on the side. And then I started to think about the children, huddling in front of a meagre fire, and took pity.
I went out into the freezing darkness and dug through the coal dust to find as many large bits of coal as I could, and carried them up in a trug. Inside the house, it was decidedly chilly, and the kids were in bed with hot water bottles. I gave them enough to get a decent fire going, and returned home feeling all warm inside at having helped out in this extreme weather.