Ice age

Here at Adams Tower we love Christmas, and every year I have to persuade Mrs A to hold back on playing the Christmas music until a reasonable date. 1st November is too early, even though the Harrods Christmas department opens in August. As we get to late November, and the sound of Bing Crosby’s crooning and whistling wafts out from the iPod speakers, I consider how ridiculous the lyrics of White Christmas are… for traditionally Christmas in the South East of England is a rather grey affair. Tree tops seldom glisten, and the only sound children listen for is their parents telling them it’s stopped raining so they can go outside on their new bikes.

What a shame, I’ve always thought, that Christmas doesn’t live up to that romantic image conjured up by the songs of Bing, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Perry Como and, of course, Shakin’ Stevens… until now.

According to the Met Office…

…the definition of an official white Christmas used most widely, notably by those placing and taking bets, is for a single snow flake (perhaps amongst a shower of rain and snow mixed) to be observed falling in the 24 hours of 25 December.

That’s a bit of a swizz really, because a single snow flake (or even a few) isn’t going to make the tree tops glisten or children listen to… okay, you get the point. We did get a fair amount of snow on 17th December, so much in fact that I didn’t drive my car again until Christmas Day itself when there was still an extensive covering around Adams Towers, making the landscape rather white. But I don’t think any snow fell on that day… so officially it wasn’t a white Christmas. And that’s a bit daft.

So, do I want a white Christmas for 2010? Right now I’d have to say “not really”. As you’re probably aware, Britain is in the grip of the coldest Winter for many years. It may be my fault actually, because while in Finland a couple of months ago I remember saying to someone “we rarely get snow”. Irony, we are told, is a fickle mistress. The “cold snap” has dominated the news and caused chaos for millions, thus leading to the perennial debate about Britain being generally crap as a nation in dealing with the white stuff. While some people are wondering what the fuss is about, spare a thought for us.

Two days after the main fall of snow we’re still stranded up here in the heights of Camberley. To get to Adams Towers we go up our avenue (and I do mean ‘up’ because it slopes upwards), and then up a narrow lane (again, up) and then our drive slopes down. So typically I have to reverse up the drive to get out – and because of my BMW being rear-wheel drive (I think) that doesn’t work very well in snow. The narrow lane, because of the lack of traffic, tends to stay snowy for a long time – and that makes it very difficult to get back up.

Mrs A’s Mini is far better at dealing with these conditions, but even this brave little vehicle has it’s limits. The snow on our drive was (is, still) eleven inches deep. Okay, I know we can clear that in a few hours and throw down some grit from the dwindling supply. Mrs A’s idea was to clear two tracks (one for each path of the wheels) to get up and down the lane. However, the snow was so deep that it would have piled up as the car pushed it… so she spent around five hours clearing the entire lane (using hitherto unknown muscles and crippling herself in the process). However, the avenue is covered with six inches of snow which has been compacted by numerous vehicles. That in itself is very difficult to negotiate.

So how can we get better with tackling the snow-related problems. I know some things now… don’t step on the snow you intend to clear, stay off it so that it doesn’t get compacted. Buy yourself a big shovel and have your own personal supply of salty grit (don’t rely on the grit bunkers in the avenue, it’s all gone). What else could I do? Buy one of those much-maligned four-wheel drive juggernauts? Oh yes, the owners of those gas-guzzlers are looking a bit smug right now.

Bing, me old mate… White Christmas… nice idea and provides some good photo opportunities but, to be honest, it’s a pain in the backside. I think I’d rather stick with the grey ones, just like I’ve always known.

A couple things to add to this ongoing saga. Clearly we’re on the threshold of an apocalypse, because the supermarket (name withheld for legal reasons) in Camberley town centre had run out of milk. Later in the day, as if to illustrate the British approach to managing life in the snow, a removal van attempted to get up around the bend on the avenue and failed miserably. It reversed and tried again. And then again. The smell of it’s burning clutch permeated my nostrils, despite having just got over a life-threatening cold. An hour later, it was joined by another removal van… 18:15 in the evening, and the new residents were still waiting for their furniture. I don’t know the final outcome, but it wasn’t looking promising.

Then Mrs A asked why, if global warming is taking hold, are we having such a cold Winter. I explained… as the polar ice caps melt they dump lots of fresh water into the Atlantic. This has an effect on the cycle of salt water which brings warmth from the South West regions of the ocean, thus causing temperatures to drop in our neck of the woods. And then I realised that was the basis of the plot for ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ and therefore may not be totally true (even if it does sound feasible).


  1. I used to have a BMW when I lived in Sweden. One trick I learned from my Lt in my army unit (territorial army, as you would call it in the UK, army reserves as they say here in the US) was to get a (military style) sand bag or two and fill them up with somewhat course sand. Put it in the trunk, right above and slightly behind the wheel axis and you get some better grip due to the increase in weight.
    Added benefit is that if you get stick on an icy patch or in a hill, you can use some sand to get grip.

  2. Has anyone noticed how quiet Al Gore has been recently?

    The UK under a blanket of snow and here in Florida in the good old US of A, it has been unusually cold for at least a week. The local news stations are on high alert for the possibility of snow in Central Florida… an event not seen around these parts since 1977.

    We have even been running our pool overnight so that the solar panels on our roof don’t freeze and pop like a car radiators without any anti freeze.

    But you will be please to hear that today we have traditional UK Christmas weather, overcast, grey and drizzle.

    Looking forward to seeing you next weekend… weather allowing!!!!!

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