Its Snowtime!    03/03/01
Hello everybody, we are still here and not frozen solid, but thanks for your calls.
Well, after a few days the snow has stopped falling and the power is back on, the water is flowing and most of the roads have been cleared. The local farmers did most of that since the snowploughs could not get through.  The council ploughs are just lorries with snow blades, depending on momentum to throw the stuff to the side. The farmers, however, have gigantic steroid-fed 4 wheel drive tractors with six foot diameter wheels and shovels. So the snow blowers promised on Thursday were not needed.
While we were stuck the village was up to 2 feet deep in snow with drifts of 4 and 6 feet, this made walking difficult and driving impossible.  On the other hand, once the blizzard stopped we all got stuck in with shovels and benefited by meeting and co-operating with each other more than we would have normally.  Odd effect adversity has, I don't think I've met anybody who hasn't enjoyed the change to some extent.  Even the older ones, although of course it wasn't anything like the kind of snow they used to get. 
It was not so much the cold, (although it was cold enough,) as the blizzard and the dark that made life rather difficult.  I was driving back from Edinburgh at about 8pm on Monday and found it quite tricky, which was more fun than I've had commuting in a long time.  I am glad I had the Discovery though. The snow and wind kept changing direction and blew about on the ground, so that I seemed to be sliding left and right, accelerating and decelerating, and that was before I had started moving, actually driving was a bit harder than usual.  There were the obligatory panic-stricken types who will insist on driving, but only at 2 mph and stopping if they see someone coming toward them. I think they are sent to teach me patience, maybe it is starting to work.
So anyway it was a bit cold for a while, and a bit dark.  That was my own fault for not checking the standby generator more regularly, sadly it seems to have blown a widget or something, since it roars away but does not actually put out any electricity.  Worked fine when I used it last.  Ah well, N.A.S.A has the same problems some times.
The snow fell and drifted on the Monday night, on Tuesday morning I set out to see if it was possible to get to work, there was a blizzard of fine snow being blown about making visibility difficult but not impossible.  It took me an hour to dig out to the road and a few minutes to find that the road was blocked ½ a mile from the village.  I turned around and went back, trying to go round the village, only to get stuck on a long slow ramp of a drift. This lifted the tyres off the ground.  It took another hour with a shovel to get unstuck, good exercise for heart and lungs, and an object lesson in how to deal with snow drifts (slowly) damn sight less fun than crashing through them though.
On Wednesday afternoon, the first people to reach us were the T.V. crew from the local station, I saw them, but thought they were the Electricity Board Engineers. Apparently the liberation of Tarbrax was on the news.  Everybody who saw it asked me why I was not on, being asked my opinion as village council chairman.  Can't think why, but I am reminded of Mum's expression that it's "better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt." Certainly there is nothing like soundbite driven T.V. for providing traps for the unwary.
Now that the worst is over (I hope) it's all very picturesque, this may change when the thaw sets in and the floods start, but that will be delayed a while yet, I think, since it's going to stay cold for a few days, according to the forecasts.  
We are starting a list of things to do, like replacing or repairing the generator, getting some spare gas bottles and possibly making an emergency water tank under the house.  Later, a solid fuel fire might be possible.  It all sounds a bit apocalyptic, but if this is global warming, it's not going to go away quickly.  If it isn't, then I still like building things anyway.
Fiona managed to cook throughout (using a Trangia camping stove,) and longjohns and bed socks kept us from freezing.  I never expected to use hot water bottles again, but they worked just fine, as did the Tilley lamps.  The old technologies are not abandoned readily in this village.  I was surprised to see one villager using a block cutting method to turn a drive full of snow into a solid protective wall of snow bricks. I'll have to get the fine points from him before the next time.
So here we are a week after the main event, many of the local roads still have spectacular snow walls on both sides, making it like driving a bobsled with interesting blind corners and good opportunities to practice reversing, an experience denied most bobsledders.
Here is an appropriate picture.  It was actually taken by a Shetland islander on Yell, (Fiona lived there in the 60's), Emailed to a Shetlander now living in Boscombe and then sent to us.  It looks much the same here, but we have some trees.