28 February 2018 (Wednesday) - Home At Last

When I packed my emergency overnight bag yesterday I’d forgotten to pack my CPAP machine, and so I didn’t really sleep that well.  I saw every hour of the night, but finally got to sleep properly just after six o’clock and slept through to half past eight.
I got up to find I’d also forgotten to pack toothpaste and a razor.

I had a quick look at the Internet via my phone before I got up. I saw this blog had received a couple of comments. Someone claiming to be called Bindu J was saying nice things about what I’d written on June 12 2017 in a thinly veiled attempt to advertise her washing machine shop in Hyderabad, and someone using the name of Charles C Hagaman had waxed loquacious about my rant on 4 January of this year as he tried to plug his car servicing business.
I wish these people wouldn’t waste my time.

"Daddy’s Little Angel TM" texted me… what was the weather like? I didn’t know. I’d not looked out of the window. Yesterday’s overnight stay had been something of an adventure, but I didn’t want to do it again. Yesterday had been fun; the first night in over thirty years that I’d been stuck at work because of the snow. But the novelty had worn off; I wanted to go home. Or, to be more precise, I wanted to *be* home. I didn’t want the journey.
Had it snowed more overnight? From Facebook it looked as though it was cold everywhere, but no one had mentioned more snow. I had a look-see. Lots of snow, but probably no more than there had been last night.

I fiddled about a bit, then got myself together and waddled off in the general direction of work. As I walked there were endless children going to and fro, all looking forward to a snow day. Part of me was grumping that they should be at school. Part of me thought they should make the most of the snow.

I had fancied brekkie in the nearby Notcutts garden centre’s restaurant. But the place wasn’t open. All of the staff were clearing snow from the car park. Unnecessarily I thought. They’d cleared enough to be getting on with; shouldn’t someone go cook breakfast? Fortunately the hospital’s canteen came up trumps.

I got in to work a couple of hours earlier than I needed to. But I was at something of a loose end. With nothing else to do I wrote up some CPD before getting on with that which I couldn’t avoid. I spent much of today alternating between looking out the window (no more snowing) and looking at Kent travel websites trying to work out the best way home. In the end the decision was made for me. Having decided that I would take the A228 to the motorway and then home the chap on the night shift came in to say there was a five-car pile-up on that road. The only option was the way I found was blocked yesterday.

Despite having been very worried about the drive home, it was fine. The roads were not blocked. There was some snow on the road near Goudhurst, but I got home in the same time that I usually do.
I’d been away for thirty-six hours. It was good to be home again…

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…

26 February 2018 (Monday) - Back to Work

I slept rather well last night. Probably not surprising after that walk. Mind you I was still wide awake at five o’clock.
Over brekkie I watched an episode of “Dad’s Army”; the SkyPlus box had been saving them up for me. In today’s episode our heroes had been chosen for “special duties”. And with their special duties done I had a quick look at the Internet. There was little of note on Facebook. People were posting all sorts of political stuff, but very few people were posting anything of interest. And with no emails worth mentioning I got dressed. In years gone by I would have had a serious sulk about going back to work, but not any more. I quite like not feeling physically sick at the thought of going to work.

It was very cold as I set off this morning, but there was no frost on the car. Too cold for frost? Usually I'm scraping the ice when the thermometer reads minus four. I went to the petrol station on the ring road to re-fuel. I would need petrol in a day or so anyway, but with the forecast snowmageddon I was taking no chances with the #beastfromtheeast which is the phrase for the coming snowstorm.
I hate hashtags.

Pausing very briefly for geo-reasons I was soon on the way to work. As I drove to work the pundits on the radio were spewing their usual brand of drivel. I like having Radio Four's current affairs programs on my way to and from work. It is the only way I keep abreast of what is going on in the big wide world. But for a lot of the time they might as well just say "blah blah blah" for all that much of their output appeals to me.
There was an article of some interest though. Apparently Jeremy Corbyn is to make a speech today outlining exactly how he would do Brexit if he was Prime Minister. Word is he's changed his mind as to what he might do as a sop to the rebel Conservative MPs, and the pundits on the radio were of the opinion that what he says might appeal to enough Conservative MPs to defeat the government in some vote or other. If that were the case the Prime Minister might be forced to call a general election....
The opinion expressed on the radio by several people was that Mr Corbyn was more interested in defeating the Prime Minister than he was in delivering a sensible policy. Isn't this true of all politicians - they get so wrapped up in playing silly beggars with procedural matters that they lose sight of actually running an effective government.
There was an interview with another politician who publicly described those who disagreed with her as "swivel-eyed-loons". And we vote for these people.

As I drove to work I was stuck behind a lorry of the Paulo Duarte company. It was somewhat frustratingly driving at twenty-five miles an hour in national speed limit zones. My morning drive to work took me nearly two hours this morning.
I got to work and spent much of the day looking out of the window at a bright winter’s day. The snow started on my way home. Will it lay? The BBC’s radio forecasters say there will be up to ten centimetres of the stuff by the morning. The BBC’s website is far less scaremongering about it. I wonder how it will go? Time will tell – it always does.