The blizzard that we were ‘promised’ was on its way to us hit yesterday morning.
Temperatures plunged to an all-time low for where we live, perhaps -6C but with the wind-chill taken into account, much lower, perhaps -10C or even more. This, dear readers, is extremely cold for one of the mildest local climates in the UK. I say “local” as Torbay is a special case as it is sheltered from behind by the lower reaches of Dartmoor and has the warming effect of the sea in front, so even for Devon, it’s extremely mild.
I took the above photo from our sitting room window, overlooking our drive (our garage is underneath our sitting room, i.e. part of the house, so our car was tucked up snugly inside our garage – it even sits on an old carpet, it couldn’t be looked after better if it were a family pet!) and the blue car you can see in the middle of the photo didn’t make it up the hill. The driver left it there and then got out to walk. It is still there, more than 24 hours later. Only 4x4s are making it up the hill.
Indeed, this snow has not been what I would describe as ‘pretty’ snow in our area, because of the blizzard. It was impossible to take pretty snow photos when the sky was grey and the wind was truly howling around the house, it was serious blizzard conditions. The Meteorological Office issued a Red Weather Warning, this is the highest warning that is ever issued, it hasn’t ever been issued, for any reason, before for Devon and it means that extreme caution should be taken because there is a threat to life in such extreme conditions. But people need to get to and from work and thus many have been stranded in cars and even a train was immobile for 15 hours without heating, or food or water for the passengers.
The snow came down fast, but it was light, powdery snow and, as we speak, it is snowing again (Friday afternoon, just gone 4pm UK time.) Thank goodness for a warm house and a well-stocked fridge, freezer and larder. This view above is from our bedroom window, with our front door on the left. Our garden, a grassy bank, stretches to the main road.
And this was the view yesterday towards the sea – which seems to have disappeared in the snow. This weather has been unlike the snow we have had in the past. Back in 2009 the snow looked much prettier …
And much the same view yesterday (but without using the zoom). The best place was at home, beside the fire. We have a living flame gas fire which is so useful – no mess, no coal dust or wood smoke (not good for our health) and instant at the touch of a switch …
I even lit candles even though I’ve said before I think they are a fire risk but I was sitting in front of them the whole afternoon and make sure that they were extinguished when I left the room. I am still not keen on the scented variety. But it was the weather for a fireside and candles, and this was officially the First Day of Spring!
This morning I looked out to see animal prints in the garden. Too deep for birds, I think, perhaps cats? I felt sorry for all the bulbs which were just beginning to show themselves above the compost, but perhaps they will survive this extremely cold weather under that duvet of snow.
So, what have we been doing? Well, we were up very early yesterday because just as the temperatures had plummeted, our central heating ceased to function. The boiler (furnace for those in USA/Canada) was making weird noises and husband switched it off. Then, of course, it would not re-start. So we phoned our plumber. He wasn’t in our area, but an employee lived close by and ten minutes later he was with us. Talk about good service? He explained that we had a condensing boiler and the external pipe had frozen. So he simply heated the pipe with boiling water and lagged it with an old towel. We just hadn’t considered this; if we had, we’d have done this ourselves. But then he re-set the boiler and all was well. We’ve had the heating set at around 21C during the day and 17C at night and we have been snug. And we have our sitting room fire, and we use hot water bottles at our backs and throws, we’d rather have heat like this than making the room too stuffy. And our bed has an electric mattress cover and each side of the bed is independent, so we can each choose the heat we want.
I should also mention that a kind neighbour who hasn’t lived in our Close very long, called this morning. He wanted to make sure we were OK? How kind of him, but it did make me feel old! We are now ‘the old codgers who live on the corner’, I suppose! This is exactly what, a decade or more ago we would’ve been doing, checking on elderly neighbours, but now everyone living in the Close is younger than us … well, younger than husband; two wives in the Close are younger than me (just!) but only two!
But we are a lovely small community, and look out for each other. This new neighbour asked if we needed anything (even though our son lives around the corner – and both sons have been in touch) and as I think it’s extremely rude to say, “No, thank you,” because then it’s like having their kindness thrown back in their face, I said we could do with some extra milk if they were shopping, but we really had sufficient, to only get some for us if they were going for some for themselves. Later in the morning his lovely partner delivered a 4pt bottle of milk, which was so kind as she couldn’t get their car to start, so she had walked to shops over a mile away, through the snow.
Just before the weather made any postal deliveries impossible, I received my latest monthly magazine and my latest box of soaps. Really, I shall be the cleanest person in our town at this rate, won’t I?
And finally, as they say on the News, a photo from the local News on TV last night. Torquay harbour-side yesterday … not quite the view of the English Rivera we, or tourists, are used to!
Until next time.