It was snowing when the removal van showed up at 7 am. I’d cleared the drive, but I had to help them clear it again. There wasn’t much for them to take. The house was all but empty anyway. They were gone by 9 am.
I had to dig my car out of the snow, and load it up with the few bits remaining. Then we left too, spinning our wheels in the snowy lane. We got as far as the River, about a mile down the lane, where the bridge was too steep to climb.
So we got out, and bought coffee. And I walked down to the river through foot thick snow to where the tables and benches all had a layer of snow a foot thick on top of them, like iced cakes. There were no leaves in the apple trees, but there were still plenty of apples. And all the apples wore little chef’s hats of snow.
And the river was beginning to freeze over. It had started near the banks where the current slowed and eddied, with a milky layer of ice beginning to form. And it had also begun downstream of a rock in midstream, with a long wake of milky ice extending downstream from it. I’d never seen the river like this before.
And we helped push cars up the slope over the bridge. The 4x4s had no trouble getting over it.
Eventually, on a second try, I got over the bridge unaided, and mounted the pavement to get past a jack-knifed truck a hundred yards past it, and onto the dual carriageway where only one lane was open, and from there the motorway on which two lanes were open. Not fun, driving on icy motorways, surrounded by articulated trucks doing 60.
It was a nightmare journey of snow and fog and ice, with abandoned cars and trucks all along the way, at speeds of 25 mph to 50 mph mostly. It was dark when I finally got off the motorway, and the roads were sheets of ice, and if I turned the wheel too hard, the car began to slew. I concentrated on doing everything as gently as possible, trying to keep the car rolling, slowing up as I came into corners without touching the brakes, hoping I was on the right side of the road. On a hill I came across a car slewed across the road, and tiptoed past it, knowing that if I lost momentum I’d never get up the hill myself. Because I had zero experience of driving on ice, and every hill and every corner was another lesson, to be applied at the next hill and the next corner.
And all along the way, I was expecting at any moment to gently spin off the road into a ditch. And be unable to dig myself out (because the removal men had taken my only spade), and I’d have to sit all night in the car drinking whisky and tequila, of which I had gallons. And they would find me in the morning, frozen solid, with a bottle of whisky clenched in one frozen fist, and my lips welded into a sardonic grin, as if I’d thought of something amusing as the big sleep overtook me.
In this manner, a 3 hour journey took 6 hours. And I was utterly exhausted when I eventually reached my destination. And astonished I’d got there at all.