27 February 2018 (Tuesday) - Snowmageddon

Yesterday the pundits on the radio said to be generous to ourselves and keep the heating on continuously during this cold snap. I followed their advice and got up at half past seven to find (from the smartmeter) that since midnight we’d used over two pounds worth of gas. Is it hardly surprising that people freeze to death in their homes?
I turned the thermostat down a few notches.

Over brekkie I smiled at Facebook. The people who were complaining that “Facebook has become the Weather Channel” were the very people posting updates about the snow that had fallen overnight. And, other than the snow, nothing had happened on social media since yesterday.

Fudge had his coat put on him, and I got dressed whilst he got over his sulk. Treacle made no fuss over her coat. We then went for our usual circuit of the park, but it looked rather different with four inches of snow. I took quite a few photos; why not? Everyone else had done.
I saw a sign of our times as I walked round the park; the park was alive with children sledging and making snowmen and generally playing in the stuff. One snowflake and the schools all close, but the little darlings can make their way to the park to play. Over the last ten years schools have taken to closing at the slightest hint of inclement weather. I wish they wouldn’t do that. After all, this just teaches the kids that the world stops when the weather is less than ideal. I can vividly remember a work experience girl being rather indignant that our place of work doesn’t have “snow days”.
Just wait till they hurt themselves in the snow – everyone expects the hospitals to keep going.

Once home I watched a little telly, packed a little overnight bag (just in case), and set off to work with far too much time to spare (just in case). I spent a couple of minutes sweeping the snow off of my car, and set off to work. As I drove there was a dull documentary on the radio about the Nutella riots in France earlier in the year. As I drove there was no denying I was feeling rather blasé about the snow. The roads in Ashford were clear. I'd turned on the traffic notifications on the radio and periodically the drivel about Nutella was interrupted with horror tales of snow. I was a tad concerned about rumours of the A21 being closed. But there were only vague unsubstantiated rumours. Surely the travel news people would know what was going on? Don't they talk to the traffic police?

As I drove through High Halden toward Tenterden and Biddenden  the roads were clear, but I saw one or two cars that had skidded off the roads into ditches. But when I got to Sissinghurst it was as though I'd driven into another world; suddenly the roads were covered in snow and ice. I got to within two miles of Goudhurst when I met a queue of traffic. It was at this point that the radio told me there was a six-mile tailback there. That was handy; why couldn’t they have said something five minutes earlier? I turned around and went via Staplehurst where I met another tailback. A woman walking past told me that two lorries had come off the road and a tractor was pulling them out. As she was talking to me so a tractor came past pulling a lorry which looked about twenty times too big for it to pull.
I waited patiently for the tractor to go back. After half an hour I was moving again. The sat-nav was insistent on sending me through Goudhurst and the six-mile tailback so I used my own sense of direction, interspersed by asking passers-by it I was on the right road. Amazingly I was, and eventually joined the A21 at the Matfield roundabout where the A21 was shut southwards. I was rather pleased that really skillful navigation and total pot-luck had allowed me to avoid the blocked bit.

Having left for work rather early I arrived with minutes to spare, having taken two and a half hours to do an hour and a quarter's journey.

As I worked I alternated between looking out of the window at the snow which was supposed to have stopped, and looking at contradictory on-line weather forecasts. The boss thanked me for making the effort to get to work, and when I jokingly said I had brought my overnight bag he asked if I would like overnight accommodation. I looked at the blizzard out of the window, and bearing in mind my horrific journey in to work I took him up on his offer there and then. I didn’t want to be driving home through the snow and ice at ten o'clock at night.
I did my bit at work until the night shift came in, then (leaving my car in the snowy car park) walked half a mile up the road to the accommodation that had been secured for me. I'd had a look at the place on Google Street View; but there is a world of difference between Google Street View and reality.

I found the hospital accommodation, dumped off my luggage, and walked a little further up the road. I’d been told that the Black Horse was a half-way decent pub. I got to the place and it seemed welcoming enough. A tad “local pub for local people”, but aren’t all pubs like that to one degree or another? They had what looked like a pub-specific ale on the hand pump, so I had a pint of “Black Horse ale”. I could be wrong, but I rather felt it was the beer that Goacher’s make for every pub but give it a unique pump clip it so that it looks unique.
The nice man behind the bar handed over a menu. I didn’t quite choke on my pint, but some of the things on the menu were nearly thirty quid. I went for scampi and chips for the simple reason that at eleven quid it was the cheapest thing on the menu. 

With dinner scoffed I made my way back to the accommodation. I arrived and suddenly I recalled one of the most miserable times of my life. When I first moved to Ashford in 1984 I lived in hospital accommodation or two weeks. It was horrible. There were half a dozen people there who really did like living like spoilt children, and everyone else was (like me) there for as little time as possible.
As I walked up the path to the front door of my bed for the night, two people were shrieking as they made a rather pissed snowman whilst “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” blared from a speaker hanging from a window.

I went up to my room which unfortunately was just above the snowman.  But thankfully the music stopped after an hour or so. As I’d scoffed my dinner earlier I was having fun transmitting to the world via Facebook; I carried on doing so from my room. For all that there was noise outside, I was having quite the adventure…

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