the deep freeze continues
With sub-zero temperatures almost continuous since 20th December and snow lying deep since that date, this has been the snowiest Christmas any of us can remember here. It has been absolutely, perfectly beautiful and has made Christmas gloriously Dickensian (in the stagecoach and figgy pudding sense rather than the starving orphan sense). Relatives duly arrived despite the weather, were generous with their help and their compliments over Christmas lunch, enjoyed the snow and departed leaving warm glows all round. Considering there were twelve of us staying in the house and only one housemaid (me), it was mostly wonderfully relaxed and cheering, so I am feeling duly grateful.
After almost a fortnight, however, the novelty of the freeze has worn off a little. The snow is still Persil white as there has been no thaw to turn it slushy. But the dustbin lorry has not been able to negotiate our two mile, snow-packed drive since before Christmas, so we have resorted to storing bags of Christmas rubbish in the game larder (empty of game and colder than a fridge, being just an outdoor cupboard). The posties are coming when they feel like it, which is not very often, and the Tesco delivery vans have given up even trying. But praise to the dairy, who have negotiated their little van up the drive two or three times a week without fail, to keep us in milk over the holidays, and to our lovely neighbour who drops our newspaper in the milk box every morning, come ice or blizzard.
With all the activity over Christmas, it was not until we were due to entertain a large party of friends for Hogmanay that we thought of checking the unheated wing of the castle for frozen pipes. Sure enough, when we began to try to warm it up, two ancient radiators sprang leaks and began erupting water rather dramatically. Luckily, this was just after all the friends left; unluckily, it was Hogmanay evening, about the worst day of the year in Scotland to try to get hold of a plumber (or indeed anyone else). As the water gushed through a crack in the floor and brought down part of ceiling of the newly-decorated room below it, we had a rather miserable evening trying not to think about it as there was nothing more we could do. To their great credit, however, the rather hungover plumber and clerk of works turned up this morning to do what they could. That wing of the heating system is now isolated and drained, to be addressed again after the thaw, and the damage could have been a lot worse. So here’s a New Year toast to all those who do their jobs even in the most inconvenient circumstances: snowy roads and hangovers don’t stop them. Cheers!