Winter Wonderland?

A few folks have suggested that I should write about my experiences with the weather recently. It’s not been great and shows no signs of improvement but we’ll see how it goes, one day at a time and all that.

I’ll tell you bit of my background story and maybe you’ll understand my situation a bit more, for those of you that know I apologise for going over old ground.

I live about 3 miles outside of Penrith in Cumbria in quite a rural area, well on a farm actually. We’re just off a very steep hill and the house is quite exposed to the elements.

I am a Postie, I deliver the post on foot around the town of Penrith. On December 11th we’d had quite a hard frost so I was taking my time walking around as I knew the paths were slippy. At one house I stepped onto a sloping slate paved path and slipped on black ice. I landed on my right elbow, it hurt, a lot. I sat there for a few minutes and then got up and like a trooper carried on delivering the post for around 30 minutes. It got more painful so I called the office and a colleague took over the round whilst I was taken to hospital. I had x-rays and it turned out I had broken my funny bone, an olecranon fracture, that required surgery. 12th December saw me arrive at Carlisle hospital for the operation which involved screwing the bone back together. 13th December I came home to begin what would be a minimum 6-8 weeks of recovery.

The following week passed fairly uneventfully, my husband managed to get some special leave granted from work so that he could stay at home and take care of me as I wasn’t allowed to move my right arm. The weather remained very cold with frost almost daily. The weekend after my accident we got the first significant snowfall.

Monday 21st December we managed to get out to stock up with food and fuel locally, getting up the steep hill from here hadn’t been easy and getting home again was more of a slide than a drive.

Tuesday 22nd we woke up to a thick covering of snow, several inches and I cancelled an appointment I had as I knew there was no way we’d make it up or downhill. Even when the other roads are clear our hill is usually covered in snow and ice. Hubby went out and threw the remains of the grit pile at the end of the farm track onto the road but it made no difference really.

Wednesday 23rd we made an effort to go to Maryport to deliver some Christmas gifts, we didn’t make it up the hill. We resigned ourselves to the fact that we were stuck in over the holiday.

Thursday 24th, Christmas Eve, our neighbour temporarily moved to her family’s home in town. There was no-one else within half a mile of us. The hill was becoming more treacherous as tractors and 4×4’s compacted the snow to ice.

Friday 25th, Christmas Day, we hadn’t planned on going anywhere, just as well as there was no sign of a thaw setting in.

Saturday 26th, Boxing Day, again, no plans of going anywhere but maybe a slight hint of a thaw going on, we crossed our fingers and were hopeful of getting out the following day.

Sunday 27th, indeed a slight thaw and the snow was turning to slush. We got ready and made a dash for it. We got to Cockermouth for some groceries and then onto Maryport to visit relatives. We didn’t stay long. Of course this was the day when my family were due to arrive from Nottingham but we’d told them not to come as the roads were so bad. We got home as the slush was starting to freeze.

Monday 28th, going nowhere due to ice and snow. Emails to the council requesting grit go unanswered.

Tuesday 29th, had to cancel appointment at Carlisle hospital with the surgeon due to snow and ice on the hill.

Wednesday 30th, managed, just, to get out for supplies of food and fuel. Don’t think I actually got out of the car much as everywhere was so slippy.

Thursday 31st, New Year’s Eve. Hubby back at work which meant he had to leave me my lunch prepared and I assured him that I could get a couple of jacket potatoes into the oven one handed. He had trouble getting up the hill nd back again but managed it.

Friday 1st January, New Year’s Day. Hubby went to work, it snowed, a lot, 3-4 inches, he set off home and got most of the way here but had to abandon the car in a layby as he couldn’t get up the other side of the hill. He walked home the last 2 miles. He’d had the sense to take a walking pole with him and had a torch and high visibility clothing but it didn’t stop me worrying until I saw him coming along the lane. Also learned today that one of my dear friends had lost her mother, we all knew it was a matter of time but the shock is just the same. Happy New Year? I don’t think so!

Saturday 2nd. Hubby got a lift to his abandoned car from a work mate and drove himself to work. It snowed on and off all day. I spoke to my sister in Derby and they’d got snow there too. Hubby set off for home around 5.45pm and he got most of the way back, within a mile, only to get stuck because some thoughtless person ad abandoned their car in the middle of the road. It seems that the Penrith side of the hill had been gritted too, why not our side? Anyway after a 2 mile detour and what seemed like forever hubby got home safe and sound but rather stressed. He called the police about the abandoned car but when they went to check later it had gone.

Sunday 3rd. A very cold day but that’s becoming the norm recently, it’s not been above freezing for the better part of 3 weeks with the exception of last Sunday for a few hours when we reached the dizzy heights of +3C! We stayed in again! We tried ringing he council hotline number to request grit and sent more emails, none of which were answered.

Monday 4th. I had an appointment at the hospital, I didn’t want to cancel but it wasn’t looking like we’d get out. A friend on Twitter sent out a request for help which lots of folks repeated but this time no luck. Hubby went out with the shovel in an attempt to find more grit, he was unsuccessful. We decided we had to at least make an attempt at getting to the hospital and set off a couple of hours early. As we reached the end of the lane we saw a tractor coming slowly down the hill. Hubby got out of the car to see what was going on. The tractor driver said he had driven to the council grit depot and had been allowed to bring some back to put on the hill. He was doing this because, like us, his requests for help had gone unanswered. He said that there were 4 gritters sitting idle in the depot. They could have been gritting the back roads to give some of us a chance to get out but the managers had said they weren’t allowed! So thanks to tractor guy we finally got the hill to a state where it was passable with care and I made it to my appointment. We stocked up with groceries again and will see what the coming days bring.

So what can I say about the weather so far this winter? Well it’s been cold, I’ve never seen Cumbria look so pretty but I’ve only seen it through the eyes of other people’s photographs really. It does look like a true Winter Wonderland but when you live on a steep hill in the sticks it’s just unpleasant. I don’t know when I’ll see my family and give them their Christmas Gifts, we were supposed to be going this coming weekend but we may cancel as the weather shows now sign of improving. I know there are folks who have been stuck in their homes for longer than I have but it’s hard to believe that we live in the 21st century and that something hasn’t been done to sort out the roads and paths in the area. I have to say a huge thanks to my Twittermates and friends on the John Howe forum who have kept me company online all these days and weeks, you don’t know just how grateful I am to have you around.

Sorry that was so long but that was over 3 weeks worth of news, hopefully next time I’ll be less verbose ;-)


  1. Zoe Dawes said,

    January 5th, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    Great post – good to have the personal perspective on a tough time this winter … looks like you may have to tough it out till next month. Bon Chance! Zoe

  2. Maureen said,

    January 8th, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Hi Julie. This is my first visit to your blog and I’ve just read this post with increasing shock and amazement about your extraordinary experiences with the weather. I feel so sorry for you and your husband. You guys have been through a heck of a lot and it certainly puts everything into perspective. If anyone dares to complain about the bad weather, I will direct them to this post. I think they will stop complaining then!

    I hope the weather will improve soon so you can get out and about. I also wish you a speedy recovery from your broken elbow.

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