When people come to our home for the first time, they often ask how we manage when we are snowed in. In the early years of living in splendid isolation at the little house on the prairie, heavy snow was an almost annual event but we managed pretty well for a number of reasons. Firstly, we had great neighbours who would bring a tractor down the mile of lane between our cattle grid and the crossroads on the outskirts of the village (not that we don't have great neighbours now - of which, more later...). We also had some very good sledging locations which our children and their friends were well aware of and so parents of the friends would skid and slide their way down to ours in 4x4s packed with kids and sledges for some proper fun. And, most significantly, my beloved would be around to join in, ferry anyone who needed ferrying in his own 4x4 and keep us in fresh veg etc until the roads were cleared.
Then came what I shall describe as the 'Las Vegas Winters'. When our four offspring ranged from 18 down to 8, my beloved started attending the Consumer Electronics Show which took place in Las Vegas in January. Of course, it was necessary for him to get himself down to London to fly out to Vegas and regardless of whether any white stuff lay on the ground or was forecast, he was going and the chosen vehicle was the aforementioned 4x4. He would disappear in early January to somewhere warm and carefree whilst I was in charge of domestic affairs. And without fail, the snow, if it hadn't already, would come down in ... well... alpine proportions.
First task would be to get all children to school, assuming it hadn't been deemed a 'snow day'. Pause here for great celebrations and giddiness if this was the case. Otherwise we achieved our departure by getting my wonderful neighbour to help me get the remaining non-4x4 vehicle up the drive, into the village and parked in the pub car park just about a mile away. Then, each morning, once schools were re-opened, we would en masse trudge up the lane in our wellies so that I could transport them from the pub car park into school before parking in the pub car park and trudging back the mile back down the lane. Then I would do the same in reverse at the end of the day, with food shopping being carried back. I learnt early on that bags of potatoes, tins and dog food were not life's essentials when you've a mile-long march through the snow. I also gained a reputation as a prodigious drinker as my car was always at the pub!
Each year, having moaned a bucketload during our brief conversations between Las Vegas and Yorkshire about the depth of the snow, impracticality of not having a 4x4 etc, as soon as the due date for his return actually arrived, the snow would miraculously disappear and he would arrive back saying: "How can you make such a fuss? There's hardly any snow!"
The last of these memorable Las Vegas Winters was back in 2009 and since then, when folks have asked about being snowed in, we've just told them that with global warming it doesn't seem to happen any more. What fools we were!
So bringing things back to the present day, my beloved now works 2 hours away and only comes home at weekends. He drives to work on a Monday in the only available 4x4 leaving me latterly with my super-doopah John Cooper Works Mini. When the Beast from the East was forecast a couple weeks ago, I suggested that perhaps he might take the Mini and leave me with the Defender. That went down like, well, a lead balloon and off he went on Monday morning in the Land Rover that he loves more than life itself - well, nearly, anyway. Come Wednesday we are under snow and although I can get up the lane on Wednesday, by Thursday morning, nobody is going anywhere.
"Come home!" I say to my beloved but he is resisting big style. "How many at work today?" "Two," he replies and I know that the other bloke lives on site! Anyway, eventually he agrees to return on Thursday afternoon so he can spend the next three days complaining that I am making a fuss about nothing.
Fast forward to Sunday and, almost in the words of Elton John's hit single, "The Beast is Back" or on its way at least. "So can I borrow the Defender this week and you take the Mini?" As ever, it was not well received so come Thursday when the Beast dumped 4 inches of snow on us in literally 3 hours flat, once again, I was snowed in! Of course, it was all gone by lunchtime but I was, in the words of Queen Victoria, in the manner of Dame Judi Dench rather than Jenna Coleman, not amused.
As I write this, rumour has it that the Beast might be back again next week... when I will definitely not be amused - again!
Footnote: Being a very keen cinema-goer, I have, in fact, seen nearly all the films nominated and awards in this year's Oscars so I was unsurprisingly disappointed to see that my film of the year, Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool didn't even get a look-in. Do catch it if you can. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5711148/
And Sir Elt's version of "The Bitch/Beast is Back!" - enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rig3tgyYiAM