16 Mar 2013
Snow, snow, and more snow....
Well, that's another week I'm glad to see the back of. I have been cut off by snow, detached from the internet, alone in the house as the DH was on a business trip abroad, suffering from bad eye strain that entails creams and gels every few hours, splinters in both hands, and feeling fairly frazzled.
It started on Monday with delivering him to the TGV station in absolutely torrential rain. This, if only we had known it, was the start of the big weather system that was moving in. Having seen him off to Amsterdam, I turned home and drove an hour over sheets of water, with almost zero visibility, surrounded by turbo-nutter French drivers. The indicators had stopped working too, but the garage fixed them in about five minutes, so I did a quick bit of shopping, then, glad to get home again, I parked the car at the top of the garden, as snow was forecast. A friend emailed to say that needles of ice were now dropping out of the sky.
When I awoke in the morning, there was that muffled silence and darkness that always means snow on the Velux. I took a peek outside and thought: what's wrong with this picture? The edge of the patio was invisible. There was a drift about three feet deep in the centre of the courtyard, which had sculpted itself like a sand dune. The car was a big blob of white.
Mmn. I tried to log on to the internet to see if I could get a weather forecast, but it was down. Cut off then. At least the phones were working, so I was able to tell people I was cut off, but then so was everyone else.
The snow began again and high winds with it.
When the winds died down, I cut a path to the woodshed, where the snow had piled up to my mid-thigh height, and found the woodpile also covered in snow, driven in by the blizzard-strenth winds. It's all soaking wet and it wasn't good wood to start with. Oh dear. As I was struggling back with logs, up turned a friend with his daughter, having walked 2.5km through the snow to borrow a DVD. It was good to see another human being, and they stayed for tea and biscuits. Their internet was up, but down to less than 56kbps.
Still no internet here, and another four inches of snow. I rebooted the router every hour but nada. And thus endeth the first day.
Fortunately, the snow now stopped , so the next day I set to and dug the car out. Being a nerd, I measured the depth of it on the roof and windscreen - 32cm - and under it found a layer of frozen hail like tiny glass beads, Velcroing the snow to the car. I inched down the packed snow on the driveway and - thank heavens - found the road at the bottom had been cleared by a tractor, so I was able to creep as far as the village rubbish bins and come back again. This meant that I could at least access a neighbour's house in an emergency (my nearest being about a quarter of a mile away).
By now the cats were behaving like bored teenagers, attacking the curtains, wailing at me to make it all go away. I was feeding the birds once an hour. The dog wanted a walk but was confused about disappearing in snow over his head. Still trying to log onto the Internet. In Amsterdam, where the DH said it was Baltic but dry, he found that our ISP had put up a notice saying the fault was with the infrastructure, so there was nothing to do but sit it out. A friend here, also stranded in snow that was up to her knees, phoned to say that supermarket roofs and the exhibition centre roof at Caen had collapsed under the weight of snow.
By Thursday I was going a bit nuts. I'd managed to phone my editor and produce a news list - she picked out the stories she wanted as I read them out - but now I really did need to work. But the snow on the cleared roads had melted sufficiently for me to get to a friend's house, where she had internet, albeit at glacial speeds, so I set up my computer next to hers (her wifi wouldn't accept me) and managed to get the content I needed onto a USB stick, enabling me to start working.
Got home to find the internet was up again. Then down again. Luckily, in the meantime, I'd loaded up a ton of pages, so I worked until 11.00pm and then collapsed.
By Friday morning, the internet was up again (it's still up but very slow) and the snow was clear enough to get up to the TGV station for midnight to pick up the DH. In Ile et Vilaine, there was no snow at all and the DH persists in believing there never was any (he says). Trouble is, I don't have a camera, so I can't even show him what it was like here. The above picture is from elsewhere in this region, but does give a pretty good idea of what it was like.
Or perhaps it was all a dream....