Week 56

10th January,  2010 

Got an email from Liz with her new address: liz.bruce@manchester.gov.uk but, as she stresses, you must “keep it clean and appropriate please even Gods can be sacked!”

5.00 pm today it started snowing.

11th January,  2010 

5.00 pm today it stopped snowing. Twenty Four Hours of continuous snow has given our area its worst travelling conditions of the winter. To make matters worse, my hard drive suffered a catastrophic collapse and gave up the ghost. I couldn’t revive it in Safe Mode and resigned myself to starting again. Usually, someone at work would give up their time to set up a new hard drive for me but now it means a trip to the techies at PC World. My machine cost £2000.00 three years ago from Evesham Computers. It went out of business a year ago. The convention in our house is that I change my machine every 2 – 3 years and hand my old one down to Pauline. Fortunately, that is still available and on-line. I’ve already had to take a new Desktop and a laptop to Greece.

Another of the nine apartments that we are interested in in Surrey has been sold. We are starting to get a bit jumpy but there may be good news ahead.

12th January,  2010 

Snow clearing and swimming are the order of the day. Our old school is still not back in session since Christmas. Even as they clear the snow, the problems get worse. The local newspaper, The Oldham Chronicle, reported middle of the night call outs as pipes burst throughout the school.


Even Bob sent me some pictures of snow. This first one is the pond in his back garden:


and this second one is of two of his friends out on a walk:


The snow does look bad around Maidenhead but Bob does want you to know that he never really needed my help.

In between clearing snow, I am transfering old, analogue VHS video camera tapes of Greek holidays to digital DVD. I will then transfer the film to my PC (when I’ve got it repaired) to be edited. The juxtaposition of the snow of 2010 all around us while we watch the searingly hot scenes of 1990 in Greece is weird but wonderful. Did I say snow clearing? It’s 11.00 am and has just started snowing again.

13th January,  2010 

Today we are supposed to be driving down to London to put a deposit on an apartment. I am writing this on Tuesday evening because I expect to be leaving at 4.00 am. However, recent weather forecasts suggest snow all down the M1 as we drive. We are considering going on Friday now but that means we won’t be able to meet Ruth & Jane on Saturday. We’ll make a decision at 4.00 am today.

We left at 5.00 am. As soon as we opened our garage door, we knew it was sheet ice outside. The temperature was -4ºC. We slid  sideways down the Quarry Drive on to the main road which was also sheet ice and then had a steep hill covered in black ice to contend with on our way to Ainley Top and the motorway. Two cars with their front ends smashed in from two separate incidents the night before were left on the side of the hill. We struggled up one side and down the other to the M62. The motorway was fine but thoughts of the precious road rather undermined my confidence in it.

By 6.30 am we stpped at Trowell South Services (no I’ve never heard of it either – It’s near Ilkeston.) for coffeee. Just as I was parking, I laughed my socks off as this little dumpy woman in bobble hat and pink boots did the splits as she hit the tarmac. I thought she must be drunk. I got out of the car still laughing and promptly fell flat on my face. The entire car park was glassy, black ice. Short of crawling on all fours, we couldn’t reach the coffee shop. We had to drive round to the undercover petrol station and get coffee there. Good job really because Pauline was desperate for the loo.

We continued to drive and light snow began to fall. We drove on but, as we approached Rugby, the snow came down heavily, the traffic increased and the motorway turned white. Our mobile went and the lady we were going to meet from the sales office in Surrey phone Pauline’s mobile to say, “Don’t bother coming. It’s taken me an hour to drive the mile from my house.” We turned round and drove home but that’s where our trouble started.

As we approached the top of the hill down to our house at about 11.00 am, walkers stopped us with tales of the black ice and carnage of cars on the hill. We turned round and drove three miles to the start of the other approach road to our home only to find it closed by the police because of a bad accident. We thought we weren’t going to get home. There was one last way – another couple of miles detour which led to a cobblestone hill (locally known as The Cobbles).

Gingerly, we drove passing car wreck after car wreck. We actually reached The Cobbles and the rutted surface actually helped our ascent. To our horror, the road leading to our quarry was sheet ice lined on both sides with abandoned cars. The quarry was half blocked with cars which couldn’t move. More by luck than judgement, we manoeuvred inch by inch until we faced the mouth of the quarry which was still thick with snow. Our car likes snow and we shot up to our garage, automatic doors opening gratefully and swallowing us up.

14th January,  2010 

I woke up bruised and aching this morning. I think I’ve sprained my big toe. I must remember that I’m not a 25 year old rugby player any more. Of course, I take warfarin which causes internal bleeding and my skin bruises angrily like a purple wheal across my flesh. Still I felt better after tea and toast and a phone call to say my computer was ready for collection.

Today’s Huddersfield Examiner reported:

FREEZING ice chaos hitting Huddersfield has been described as the worst ever seen by police and highways staff. One of Huddersfield’s most experienced traffic officers said the chaos caused by icy roads led to more than 100 accidents and grit stocks in Kirklees remain at “critical level” with stocks dwindling despite the cutbacks in gritting.


Once again today, 92% of the schools across Kirklees were closed again. I really don’t know what’s happening in Education nowadays. They’re probably all at home watching the cricket. England all out for 180. What is Peterson doing?

15th January,  2010 

My PC, which cost me £2,500.00 three years ago has had a £50.00 new hard drive fitted and is ready to be picked up from PC World. A lovely Techie called Rabnawaz has worked on it, putting back Vista Premium and all the service packs. He has upgraded all my drivers for me. I do it myself but all of them at one sitting was monotony personified. I’ve still got to hook all my hardware up, recreate my home network and then download all my files from my internet-based Sky Drive, including my websites. I have to reinstall Ms Office 2007, MacromediaSuite (Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Flash), AdobePhotoshop, Acrobat Professional  and one or two other lesser programs.  It takes hours. It will fill Sunday.

Back to Surrey this lunchtime. I certainly couldn’t take any more Test Match today. We are hoping to look at one of the three remaining apartments in the building we have both liked and, possibly, to semi-secure it with a deposit.

16th January,  2010 

The journey down was good yesterday but we couldn’t get an appointment and had to wait till today. The meeting wasn’t until lunchtime so we were almost certainly going to miss meeting Ruth & Jane in Yorkshire. That would have been historic and Ruth will probably kill me. I feel very bad about it (if she’s reading this). The apartments left are not really good enough and we decided it was better not to commit ourselves. Didn’t leave Surrey until 5.00 pm and traffic was bad on the way back. It took nearly five hours and I was shattered. I just got in to see highlights of Chelsea put seven goals past Sunderland. I hate Chelsea.

17th January,  2010 

Woke up shattered. I must be getting old! Spent the day bringing my computer up to spec before uploading Bob’s photo on the web and bringing my Blog up to date. The snow is beginning to thaw. I think I see a little bit of lawn this afternoon. Tomorrow, we will return to our work pattern: up at 7.00 am, shower and large cup of tea, off to the Health Club for 9.00 am. Swimming, Jacuzzi, Steam Room, a bit more swimming and off by 11.00 am; coffee and The Times followed by what ever we want. Sounds wonderful.

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