Things have been busy at the Summerhouse lately, which is a good thing when it comes to writing and blogging, but not when two bungalows directly behind your newly purchased house go up in flames late one night, perilously close to your mother’s annex. That kind of busy isn’t good. Mercifully nobody was hurt and we coped with the scare in our usual British way by keeping calm and drinking tea. It works, it really does.
Only a few days before, I had taken my youngest for lunch at the Goose Farm. There weren’t a lot of geese around, but we noticed these two seemed quite keen on waddling around this caravan. Probably thinking about their summer holidays.
I would like to think about a summer holiday after our long winter. On March 1st, ‘The Beast from the East’ met ‘Storm Emma’ sending a deluge of snow drifts, blizzards, freezing rain, ice and bitterly cold temperatures to the South West.
The day the storm hit, I was due to attend the funeral of a dear friend, tragically gone too soon. Hubby took the day off to be with me, and we hoped to get home before the worst of the storm hit in the afternoon.
Eerily deserted at first, as we took things slowly on this major Dorset road…
But minutes later, we joined the tail end of a traffic congestion that was going nowhere fast. We must be a laughing-stock to the parts of the world used to snow for months on end, but when snow hits in the UK, all it takes is for one vehicle to come a cropper on the first slightest incline, and that’s it for the rest of us. No snow tyres or chains, and no ploughs or gritters able to get through.
With all roads linking to Somerset blocked, we turned around. Just as well, as the BBC news next morning announced that hundreds ended up stranded overnight in their cars on those very roads.
We inched our way slowly along the now treacherously icy roads to a pub we know called the Baker’s Arms. It took us three hours to travel a few miles, back to where we started. Hubby dashed inside to ask the owner if he knew where we might find overnight accommodation, while I stayed in the car listening to freezing rain pelt our car like a hail of bullets…
Thanks to the kindness of strangers at such times, a member of staff called around for us, finding a local B&B with one room left, thanks to a cancellation. And so we added to the group of stragglers gathered there, all strangers brought together by happenstance, inspiring one man to mutter something about an Agatha Christie Murder Mystery, as he climbed the stairs to his room.
A layer of ice which had formed on top of the snow, cracked beneath my boots as I walked across the car park, like the way the caramel topping of a crème brûlée snaps beneath the spoon and sinks into the creamy pudding beneath. Except this was no desert and it ruined my suede boots.
The next morning we set off for home, but with ice warnings still in place.
The snow drifts grew deeper as we got closer to Somerset…
The main road into town was not cleared as we had hoped, making it a challenge to find the best way home.
First stop, the supermarket for supplies, only to discover that the place had obviously fallen prey to a zombie invasion. How else to explain the stripped bare shelves and no milk or bread or veggies or fruit or meat?
And finally, we made it home. Snow is beautiful – from the inside of a warm and cosy house with a fire blazing.
We thought that was it for our snow adventures for this year at least, but yesterday snowfall greeted us once again, a beautiful gift for our 12th wedding anniversary. Happy to stay home with a glass or three of bubbly by the fire, what better way to celebrate? And of course, yet more snow photos…
Eddie wasn’t sure at all about the snow at first, having only experienced it a few times in his twelve years…
Knowing of the upcoming snow and our plans to stay home for our anniversary, on Friday evening, hubby surprised me with a visit to a beautifully restored Jacobean Manor, Newton House. Newton House is a bespoke Gin House, their speciality Newton House Gin distilled on the grounds using their homegrown botanicals and fresh spring water supply. Usually only open for their periodic Gin & Jazz evenings, hubby contacted the lovely owner who reserved a table for two by the fire in the bar.
Telling news was something I once did in a handwritten letter, as I did for years when I lived in California, long before we had email and blogs. My friend, now sadly gone, would have loved the snow stories, but would have told me off for venturing out. We kept in touch by letter through all the years I lived in America, her friendship never wavering, and now I have some of her letters to keep and remember her by.
Handwriting is on my mind, with Learning to Write as the subject of Irene’s Times Past Challenge last month. Belonging to the tail-end Baby Boomer generation growing up in rural Suffolk, England, cursive handwriting class was a weekly, standard lesson at my small village school, and my favourite.
I couldn’t wait to practice my looped letters and words with my prized Parker fountain pen with dark blue ink flowing through its fine, pointed nib. Although each wooden desk had ink wells (and lots of carved graffiti from years gone by), they stayed dry, the ink in my fountain pen coming from small, plastic ink cartridges. Saturday trips into town included a visit to WH Smiths to buy a box or two so that I wouldn’t run out.
Learning cursive handwriting, practising on lines in an exercise book, meant that for a time my handwriting was incredibly neat and legible, something I once took great pride in. But not any more. Like so many, I bemoan the modern state of my handwriting, so reliant now on typing.
My only problem was as a leftie, I ended up with smudged ink along the left side of my hand and wrist no matter how hard I tried to avoid it. Then again, as I’ve often said, I was always the kid at the party with chocolate on my face…
Many years later, I don’t think learning to write by hand was a high priority in my children’s schools. When Eldest Son was in Junior High in California, we received a letter from the school advising that we should buy a computer for his schoolwork. All parents received the same letter, stating that handwritten homework would no longer be acceptable, because most was illegible.
Shame the school didn’t offer to pay for said computer.
Or handwriting lessons.
We did get a computer, at great cost we could little afford. and shared it between all the family. And so broke out war. But that’s another story for the Summerhouse.