Friday December 30, 2005
“Do as you’re told for once,” Graham said early this morning. “I’m not having you driving down to Somerset in conditions like this.”
We were standing in the living room window, looking out at the growing blizzard which was adding another layer of freezing snow to the several that have fallen over the past couple of days.
“I’ve driven in worse than this,” I said, stoutly.
“Yes, I know. I was there. But that was when we had no alternative and it’s not worth the risk for one day’s work. I’ll go on the train and come back Tuesday. You and Dolly can stay here and keep the house warm.”
“Well, if you say so. We really don’t need a frozen house.”
So, it was settled. We drove out over the ice-rink of a lane from the house and onto the main road, which had been salted and was clear apart from a thin layer of sludge and the occasional patch of ice. I judged the maximum safe speed as being somewhere around 35 mph and settled down nicely to drive the fourteen miles or so to the station. I was pretty pleased with myself when I pulled up at the first roundabout, just past the Pilgrim hospital on the edge of town, to be able to announce that it’d been the first time I had had to apply the brakes since we left home.
“That’s good is it?” Graham asked.
“Oh, I don’t know about good. It’s just that avoiding the use of the brakes along with avoiding excessive steering is one of the key points to safe driving on snow and ice.”
“Ah. Well done, then.”
The buffet on the station was icy cold, with a failed heating system. Even so, it was good to get out of the wind, and the lousy coffee tasted really rather good for once. Amazing how your standards on coffee are modified by a bit of cold.
The train arrived on time, we hugged and made our farewells, and off I trudged back to the car, leaving Graham to the start of the long journey down to Somerset. As I slipped behind the wheel I saw the train, a little local diesel affair, driving off in the direction of Grantham. I thought I could see him through the snow-grimed windows so I waved furiously, just in case. Well, you do, don’t you.
I made my way over to Tesco’s, to grab provisions for Dolly and myself to see us through the next five days or so, and from there, with increasing care, over the icy and sludgy roads back home. The snow had turned to rain in Boston, a nasty, stinging rain driven by a cold, cold wind. As I left the town, however, and drove out across the open fens, it became a wet, dangerous snow once more. The little silver Ford is a darn good car to drive in such conditions, clinging nicely to the road and singing along smoothly even at low speed. I accomplished the journey without incident but felt a great relief when I pulled up on the drive to unload the bags and then stow the car safely back in the garage.
Graham’s journey was without incident, too, and when he phoned from the caravan, safe and sound, I let out a large and heart-felt sigh of relief. It’s much warmer down in Somerset than it is here but, true to form, the cold spell lifted during the evening and now, though it’s still bitterly chill in the wind, most of the snow has gone from the road and from our driveway. I’m relieved at that, too, though I have no intention of going out much if at all over the New Year weekend.
“What will you do with yourself while I’m away, then?” Graham asked when I announced my decision to stay home.
“Oh, I’ll try to get at least one walk in each day, but I think I’ll start up the writing again. Just to keep me occupied.”
“Good. Don’t like to think of you up there twiddling your thumbs and getting all bored.”
“Nah. I’ve several things I want to get done.”
And there you go. I’ve warmed up my computer, started work on a poem that’s been buzzing around in my head right through a long stay in Somerset and over Christmas, and expect to be happily occupied until Tuesday when Graham comes home once more. He has a couple of short duties in February but we’ve already decided I shall not be driving down for those.
Christmas was fun. We got back home with only one day in which to get our shopping done and set up for the big feast. Then we closed the door and settled down to rest and enjoy. On the 28th, the snow fell, and shut us in until this morning. I tried a walk just after the first layer fell and while the sun shone brightly but I found it simply too slippery underfoot so I gave in as gracefully as I was able.
It’s good to have a complete break from writing now and again but I’m glad to be back at my desk.