15st 10lb, 6.0 units. We woke yesterday to yet more snow, and the now usual police advice not to travel unless one’s journey was absolutely necessary. The question is: how do you define “necessary”? It wasn’t really necessary to be in the North East at all; but, given that we were, and that the whole underlying point of our trip was to wish my aunt a happy 86th birthday over Sunday lunch in Morpeth, it seemed pretty desirable to get there if we possibly could. Added to which, Mrs H was supposed to be working in north Wales this morning and all the weather and travel forecasts suggested that (a) if we could get as far as Morpeth, we would have accomplished the hardest part of the journey, and (b) if we did not get away yesterday, we could could probably forget the idea of getting away at all for quite some time. So, after a wander around outside taking yet more pictures, chuckling at memories of the Met Office’s October forecast of a mild, wet winter (which they now deny ever having made) we edged our way to Morpeth on snow-packed local roads and then the reasonably clear A697, and had a very decent family lunch.
|Fresh snow outside the back door: yesterday morning's view|
|The back gate: heading under|
|Icicles not benefiting the guttering|
|Picturesque, though: you've got to give it that|
|Poor prospects for deliveries|
|Beneath this is a completely plain post|
|Sheds, snow: what more can I tell you?|
|Trees in my small paddock|
|Next door's henhouse: egg yields plummeting|
|A fine view of the hills|
|Increasingly hard to tell where hills end and clouds begin|
|The Boy enjoys his Great Aunt's birthday lunch|
Around 3 we set off for Cheshire, cunningly ignoring the sat nav’s advice to head down the A1(M) because of all the reports on the BBC’s travel website of delays due to ice and snow in County Durham. The A69 was fine, and so was the M6 all the way to Tebay services, where we stopped as usual so that The Boy could have a run around in the children’s play area (and a concerned-looking member of staff could be despatched, also as usual, to investigate why a white-haired, elderly paedophile in a comedy green tweed three-piece suit, complete with watch chain, was loitering there with a very good-looking 17-month-old boy – I am just grateful that we have managed to train him to say “Dadda” so convincingly).
Then we set off on the last stage of our journey and promptly ran into a serious blizzard in Lancashire. In what seemed like no time at all the motorway was reduced to a single lane, in which around 95% of the traffic was crawling along at a maximum of 20mph. What concerned me was the other 5%, chiefly comprising heavy good vehicles and BMWs, obviously, ploughing past in the snow-covered outer lanes at 60 or more, and waiting for one of them to lose control and slide into us. One or two drove perilously close to us, asserting their interpretation of where the lane markings ought to be, though I was pretty confident that my own take was correct given that I could regularly hear the distinctive rumble of the edge of the hard shoulder from my nearside wheels. Still, even the knowledge that I was in the right would have been of small consolation as we were waiting in a heap by the side of the road for the ambulance and the recovery truck.
The snow came to a merciful stop pretty much as suddenly as it had started, and I had not long taken us back up to what the railways would call “line speed” when all the interior lights came on and a rushing noise alerted us to the fact that one of the rear doors was open. I had never bothered to learn how to activate the child locks because The Boy was closely strapped into his state-of-the-art super-safe car seat and could not possibly reach the handles. Only now the junior Houdini has apparently discovered how to extricate himself from the straps and explore the possibilities. Luckily he was still in the car by the time I had made an emergency stop on the hard shoulder for the first and, I sincerely hope, the last time in my 39-year driving career.
After that we drove home with a keen sense of what might have been. It took us around six hours, compared with the three and a half forecast by the sat nav when we left Morpeth, but we got back to our Cheshire home feeling profoundly grateful that we had enjoyed a lucky escape in more senses than one.
Wishing you all a very happy Christmas.
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