Living with the snow
In the ongoing extreme weather conditions here in Scotland there hasn’t been much time for blogging. We managed to get elder son back to his school in Edinburgh during a break in the snowfall last Tuesday. He arrived to find a merry whole-school snowball fight (teachers included) in progress, in lieu of rugby, so he was very happy to be back. Younger son, on the other hand, was at home all of last week, bouncing off the walls. His state-run school was closed like all the others in the county, with teachers unable to get in and the streets around the schools piled up in a rubble of uncleared snow.
The snow-ploughs and gritters – not to mention helpful local farmers with tractors – have at last managed to make some headway on the roads, though, and the council has re-opened the schools this morning to the hysterical relief of all parents! Wee boy was not so happy to be going back, however. As I swept the latest fresh snowfall off the car I tried to encourage him with the thought of seeing his friends again and having fun in the snow at break-time.
‘You’ll be able to make snowmen and snow angels and have a snowball fight with your friends.’
‘But mummy,’ he sighed, ‘we’re not allowed to throw snowballs at school.’
There in a nutshell, I thought, is the difference between the private and the state school systems. Ho hum.
After the stunned paralysis of the country last week, it is good to see the schools trying to get back to normal along with the rest of us. Tradesmen are venturing along our long snow-packed drive to get on with essential jobs: they have been keen to make the effort, as the only local businesses to have made any money in the past week must have been the grocers, with all supermarket deliveries having ground to an indefinite halt. We haven’t had any post for over a week and the bin-men have all been diverted to snow-plough duties, but the good old dairy has started its deliveries again and there is a feeling in the air today of determination to get on with things. We Brits love to castigate ourselves over our inability to handle weather like this. The problem is that, with our complex maritime climate, we cannot plan for snowy winters like Norway can, for example. However, this being our second in the space of a few short months, we at Castle Beastie are a little better prepared than last time, with snow shovels and snowboots and, of course, sledges. The only thing we didn’t manage to organise in time was snow tyres, which of course you can’t get for love or money at the moment.
We should be getting on with addressing the dry rot crisis, but the necessary scaffolding can’t be put up in this snow. There is no shortage of other things to be done, though. At the weekend, after several nights of temperatures well below freezing (minus thirteen Celsius or so here, minus nineteen up the glen on Thursday night) some of the down pipes froze, rendering our bathroom out of action. How lucky we are that in a place like this, we just treck down the corridor to find another bathroom that is still working! On the other hand, when you discover a bedroom wall on the top floor running with damp caused by blocked snow and ice on the roof, as I did this morning, it’s an awful long way from the ground to go and investigate. As we say in these parts, ‘There’s aye summat.’**
Still, it is all exquisitely beautiful, and shoveling icy snow from the paths is excellent exercise. Christmas is coming, with a perfect Christmas-card landscape to match. If only the postman can reach us soon, I will be more than happy.
*sorry, the photo formatting has a mind of its own today; these should be centralised.
** ‘there’s always something’.
See also: ”Arctic Britain’: isn’t it beautiful?’