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Living with the snow

December 6, 2010

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.

every school run is an adventure*


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.’**

no baths today


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?’

13 Comments leave one →
  1. December 6, 2010 4:06 pm

    Truly there is always something! Here I am hearing thunder, it’s blowing hard and pouring with rain while I endure very brief power outs – just long enough to cause me to have to re-start the computer and fight to get online with a decent signal strength – no mean feat at the farthrest end of a dialup connection.
    It could be worse – a friend who lives on an offshore island here whose only access to shore is by their boat is dealing with high tides and a surge that has covered their wharf and left their boat at risk – can’t do a thing until it goes down – at least I’m warm and dry. Do be careful on the roads – hope your plumbing comes round and your walls stop running meltwater – yikes!!!

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      December 7, 2010 3:40 pm

      Nova Scotia seems to have a pretty challenging climate by any standards. Respect to you hardy folk who live there!

  2. December 7, 2010 1:55 am

    The pictures of snowy Scotland I’ve been seeing are beautiful. I live in “snow country” in New York State and it’s been snowing every day, but we’re used to it. Although, at this time of year those of us who work in the public schools always wish for a snow day so we can stay home and decorate our houses and wrap presents and bake cookies.

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      December 7, 2010 3:44 pm

      I bet it’s beautiful where you are. Our climate is so unpredictable that, whatever the weather does, it always seems to catch us out. Mmm, decorations and cookies…that does sound good. I made gingerbread cookies with my small boy for a friend’s Hanukkah celebrations at the weekend, and it was really fun. When I’m in my pinny in cookie-baking mode – which isn’t often – my husband fondly calls me ‘Connecticut Mom’! (I think he thinks that I look like the perfect Stepford wife!) 🙂

  3. December 7, 2010 4:29 am

    It’s all very beautiful. I feel sorry for your wee lad stuck at home. Love the snow falling on your blog; I tried it last year but it wouldn’t work for me – perhaps it melted in the Australian heat! 🙂

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      December 7, 2010 3:47 pm

      Small son is happily back at school now, I’m glad to say. The snow is kitsch of course but so appropriate that I couldn’t resist: we have been having a lot of this kind of lazily drifting snowflakes. But yeah, I guess they just sizzle up on an Aussie blog…!

  4. December 7, 2010 5:11 pm

    Wow, check out those icicles, very impressive!

  5. December 7, 2010 7:43 pm

    Oh my goodness what a lot of snow and ice! I’d been wondering how you were getting on. You have definitely got more snow than we have! Glad you got eldest son back to school in time for the snowball fight – what fun! Beautiful photos. And I love the snow on the Dancing Beasties!

  6. December 7, 2010 8:27 pm

    I thought I had commented on this post….. obviously not.
    And now I can’t think what witticism [I thought] I wrote.

    but really, as if you don’t have enough snow falling outside your window, you decided to include it on your blog as well?!!

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      December 7, 2010 10:48 pm

      I know, I know, totally kitsch. It just seemed to suit the pictures. And it makes me happy, big kid that I am.

  7. jane permalink
    December 11, 2010 11:03 am

    Your photos are simply incredible. Those icicles!!! And that light is stunning. And very Scottish.

    I heard on the radio this morning that now the snow and ice is melting, Scotland is apparently getting a lot of flooding. None for you I hope.

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      December 11, 2010 12:25 pm

      Thank you – no, we are OK, though it’s all a bit mushy at the moment. The icicles have gone – weren’t they FAB – but there is still a fair bit of snow around.


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