Saturday, 16 January 2010

Snow and Ice

Well, we got Christmas and New Year out of the way without any dramas. It was the first New Years Eve since my father died, and our first for many years not spent with him. Instead we spent the evening with our friends John and Carolyn, at their home in Ripon. It was a cold night, with snow on the ground, but after a fantastic meal we decided to walk into the City Centre to bring in the New Year in the Market Place - and we had a lovely night too!  Back home for a glass of Buck's Fizz and then to bed (2am). The following morning, after a superb cooked breakfast, we made our way back home via Pateley Bridge and Stump Cross Caverns. To our surprise Park View Stores were open in Bridgehousegate, where you can find the finest flapjack known to man. We bought 10 (yes, 10!) slices, then drove up to Stump Cross for another breakfast - a tradition we've tried to keep up for the last 10 years or so. Conditions on Greenhow Hill were a bit of a surprise, considering the year before when the entire village was like a winter wonderland - totally frosted over. Yes, there was snow; but Greenhow is usually a world apart from anywhere else, and really there was very little up there.

Then of course the snow arrived - and most of the country was paralysed! Julian and I managed to get into work every day during the worst of the weather, and spent most of the Breakfast Show fielding phone calls from schools reporting closures. Snow in the dales of course provides some fantastic photo opportunities, but we decided to head for the Lake District, where we expected to be met with snow-covered mountains and fells. It wasn't to be though - really there was very little on the ground, and we made our way from Penrith down through the lakes and back home via the A65. If only we'd turned right onto the A66 it was blocked just a few miles to the east, with massive drifts! A few days later though we did manage to get some pretty impressive pictures around the Three Peaks, in particular at Ribblehead.

The next thing the weather threw at us was freezing rain, covering the region in deadly sheets of ice. Lancashire County Council had come in for particular criticism due to it's policy of not gritting any side roads, housing estates or anything that wasn't a major through route. But when the ice came they simply had to take action. Before eight in the morning that first day Skipton Police alone reported more than a dozen accidents. Schools closed again because of the danger posed by the ice, and again Julian and I were on our own. Listeners started to play Spot the Gritter, and there were even rumours that gritting teams were being accompanied by police for their own safety. (Not true). Now it's the big thaw, and guess what? Everybody seems to be surprised that river levels have gone up, and there's some flooding! As far as I'm concerned the snow, ice and flooding are inconvenient, but at last we seem to be having a proper winter! Kids have been out on sledges for the first time in decades, having a whale of a time, we've got some fabulous photos, and hopefully next summer we'll have a lot less bugs and nasty stinging insects around. What we probably WILL have though - is a hosepipe ban!

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