Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Snow happens

Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen here.

Driving to work in the morning I heard on the radio that we were expecting heavy snow by the afternoon rush hour. Yeah right what a laugh ..........we don't get snow here..........even when the surrounding area gets snow it misses this immediate area by the south coast between the Isle of Wight and South downs. On the few occassions that we do get snow it might just cover the ground and be gone again between 12 to 24 hours. (Thats what happened when we had snow a week before christmas).

Heavy snow by the rush hour ............hmmm 4.45 it began to rain .......thats rain not snow not even sleet. Ok so just before we left work at 5 the rain had turned to sleet. Yes sleet but still not snow. Walking out to my car (sorry my mum's car .....I'm using that while shes in hospital), a few lumps of snow were falling. It was my intention to visit my mum at hospital on my way home (but I wouldn't stay long).

Two miles later I knew that this was going to be serious. The snow was laying very quickly, while stuck in very slow moving traffic I phoned mother to say I wouldn't visit. It took me an hour to reach the turn for the road down the hill towards the hospital. I had already seen that each and every turn was blocked with traffic. I could hear on the radio that the motorway was very bad on the stretch between the city and my town. I took the decision (maybe the wrong one) to take the road that goes down the back of the hill rather the south side where the roads off the hill were steeper. (I now know that one of our directors who lies on the south face of the hill skidded into a ditch before walking home.)Within yards of setting off down I was sliding and the brakes were not working. I turned the engine off and steered into a layby at the back of the ship on the hill. there were cars parked along the other side of the road and people milling around, one man asked me if there had been an accident on the top of the hill. I think it was just sheer numbers stuck in the already heavy snow. It had been snowing for about 40 minutes by then. Gradually I made my way down the hill and onto flatter ground where I was able to drive at around 10mph until I joined the queue of traffic trying to get into Wickham.

I had been on the road for 2.5 hours by the time I reached the village. This was when I got out of the car and chatted to the man from the car in front of me. He let me use his phone to call home as I couldn't get through on mine no answer (obviously too busy playing game on ps3). After several repeats of move a few car lengths then stop for ages we reached the junction beside the garage I had to go use their toilet (damn there was a queue). They must have had their best night ever for food if not fuel. Then it was the slow climb up the hill towards my town.I guess I must have been about a 3rd of the way up the hill when we stopped for what seemed like forever.

There were families from nearby houses out telling people what was happening, offering hot drinks, biscuits etc.....they were organising the community centre for people who needed somewhere to stay. Someone was going along the line of cars that hadn't already been abandoned checking to see if they had a 'towing eye'. I had no idea as it wasn't my car. With the help of the men from the cars around mine we discovered that there was one slotted inside the spare tyre pack. This was fitted to the front of the car. By the time I got a push start up the hill as far as I could go it was 10.30pm. When I ground to a stop about 2/3rds of the way up there were just 3 more cars ahead of me then it was my turn to be hooked up to the tractor with instructions to keep it in 2nd gear and drive normally but if I start catching up with tractor just take foot off excelerator. He pulled me to the top of the hill then told me to stay in high gear with low revs and I should be ok.

I got as far as the edge of town where I reached the steep hill that I just knew I shouldn't even attempt, I could see there were no fresh tyre marks on the hill so pulled over to the side. It didn't matter which route I took I had a steep hill to get to home. I was now stuck in deep snow and couldn't move back or forward. So I had gone as far as I could in the car. It was now time to start the plod home. It was 11pm when I started walking and 11.55 when I walked through the door.

Incredibly I didn't feel cold whilst walking even though I was wearing court shoes with a 1.5" heel and going through snow that was over my ankles. I wasn't even wearing socks just knee high nylons under my thin trousers. It was also extremely light. Walking along the ridge I stopped to take a picture of the motorway below where there was a string of lights from the crawling traffic in both directions as far as could be seen. (you might need to click o the image to see it the lights)

There were places where it was impossible to walk on the pavement as trees were so heavy with snow that they were bowed down in some places to the path below.

This morning after speaking to PB (who left work early yesterday because she was ill) the office is shut ......not that I was going to try getting in. I ventured out to the local garage to get milk and bread......there was no bread!! It had started snowing again so I must have looked like a walking snow woman when I got home. Here are a few photos I took this morning.


Fire Byrd said...

What a nightmare journey.
Can't help a wry smile though on account of not having got rid of our snow since the Sunday before Christmas, and getting a certain enjoyment of the rest of the country now having it.
Glad your safe and at home though, even if there is no bread!

Lady in red said...

It was painfully slow but the community spirit among the people stuck and those trying to help was great.

I was able to keep warm and had a pck of digestives and my radio to keep me going.

But I heard today that our MD didn't get home until 3am after walking half way home. One man was found frozen to death in his car in the village were JA stayed last night.

The nurses at the hospital where my mum is had to stay all night

Rach said...

I am pleased you managed to get home in one piece even if it was minus the car, take care..xx

Lady in red said...

I phoned the police so that they know where the car is and have my number if there is a problem....but at the moment they are concentrating on A3 which you might have seen on news

Rach said...

Yes I have, hope you get it sorted soon. How is Mum getting on? x

Lady in red said...

she's doing ok she says physio had her up today but she hadn't tried to walk yet (that was this morning) will phone her again soon.

I suspect she will be in hospital longer than expected but not for a medical reason lol

Mel said...

Oh, what a tale to tell.

But oh my how gorgeous--and what wonderful people to extend themselves as they did.

I'm so grateful you made it home safely (with or with the car).

Joanna Cake said...

That must have been so scary! Before Christmas, I tried to get my car out of the ungritted car park and found myself on an ice rink. Fortunately, Ruf was staying and came down to help me out before digging a path through the ice so that I could get in and out in the future. Once I got out onto the main roads, it was ok, but the minor ones were still awful.

This time last year, I had a big 4x4 and I still wouldnt go out in these conditions unless I had to because other cars were at risk of sliding into me. In my Yaris with its wheels that are about a third of the size, Im definitely not doing it unless I absolutely have to! Fortunately, I can walk to work and the shops.

Stay in and stay safe x

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