As Tunbridge Wells settles in for another snowy spell, were we any better prepared this time than of a few short weeks ago?
As I look out on my road this morning, I'm very aware of the merits of working from home. Not for me the onerous task of wading out in cold boots and thick coat, digging at the lump of indefinable snow on the driveway, and de-icing the car found eventually underneath. And after that there's no guarantees you'll actually make it to work, or once there that you wont have to leave at 3pm to ensure you make it back again.
Ok so I still have to don the warms and make sure our outside animals are still alive (sadly we lost a guinea pig to suspected heart failure on New Year's Eve as no one had told it there might be fireworks nearby...), but I dive straight back indoors, put the kettle on (this time for tea not to defrost the chicken's water), and think about getting stuck into some work.
I don't miss the treacherous drive on snowy mornings at all. An avid and passionate driver, I never have got over the underlying fear of getting stuck in the snow. So sad our 4-wheel drive is sitting dead on the drive this winter, or I'd feel a lot more confident!
I'd also feel a lot more confident if I knew the roads have been gritted. It seems there's been a change of policy with the local authorities about gritting and clearing the roads, as this year far fewer of them have been done in preparation for the snow and icy conditions.
A couple of weeks ago, everyone was complaining that hardly anywhere had been gritted, even after the snow was turning to treacherous ice. The very main roads were fairly clear, but as soon as you were out of the central town, pavements remained passable only with crampons and a dog sled, and roads like mine might as well have been a ski slope for all the traction you could get going up it.
So how have we fared this time? It's not just the Tunbridge Wells area, my sources from many other boroughs tell me the same thing - transport chaos and treacherous going underfoot.
I have no beef at all with the teams of clearers and gritters that turf out of their own cosy beds at 3am just to ensure we can get to work/school/playgroup/dentists/doctors/shops (delete as applicable). I do however question the The Powers That Be and the preparation made for heavy snow - I'm pretty sure it's not just me reminiscing through rose tinted eyewear, but weren't the roads gritted more thoroughly when I were a lass?
My Dad donned his own rose tinted goggles the other day and talked about steam trains rarely getting stuck in the snow - not only was there the plough option fixed to the front, but jets of steam were blasted on to the track to clear snow and leaves - surely there's a modern equivalent possible?
So bearing in mind I haven't left my house yet (beyond our own boundary) and ventured down the road - how is it in Tunbridge Wells today? Tell us how the snow is affecting you, and what the roads are looking like in your area.
Safe traveling, and keep warm.
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Natelie Fitzroy is a freelance writer and photographer with The Little White Studio.