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No snowman

Today is another snow day, which means the kids are home, Larry is home, all work appointments cancelled (he's been home since the 19th!) I now have five days off from today (the Museum never closes) and l'm dying to be home alone. Christmas is over, I know because I cut the cotton, weaved the fabric, cut the cloth and MADE the frigging tee shirt. So all right already. It's over. Gone. Done. Drunk. Shovelled. Eaten our body weight in cake and pies. Happied & Merried myself to death. Yes, even after my post about loneliness I need to be alone now. I won't be lonely. I won't be sad. Just alone. One day please. Pretty please.

Last night water started gushing out through the back of the boiler shortly after l heard it emit a slow texan whine. We turned it off and contacted British gas. We joined the queue of people waiting and waiting in a not very patient, stiff and starchy British way, for a service engineer, our slot is booked for tomorrow. With modern insulation, the house has maintained it warmth over night. As it had been switched to constant for three days and like most people in this country after a rare 2 weeks of snow it too has been beaten into submission. Schools are closed. Shops shut. Motorways decorated with empty cars and lorries. And boilers fut! Don't even get me started on the issue of GRIT!

The house is now freezing. Outside it is an ice rink again. More snow is forecast. I haven't seen the grass here since Matewala, (sorry old family joke) which means forever!

In the late 60's I lived in Pointe Claire, Montreal, Quebec and boy did we experience real winters. BUT we were prepared! Chains on the tyres, roads ploughed. We still got to school daily. People got to work, by car, train bus. Life did not stop as we knew it. I do remember our fish froze in their bowl though! The frozen St. Lawrence river had car races on it. Or was that a dream? We walked the sidewalks with snow piled up high to our heads either side. We fell about into its soft drifts. All sounds dampened by the deep snow. You knew where you were in Canada, with the weather. In fact in most things. The brave and the free. I recall it all fondly. Hot summer, a week or four of Autumn, then winter bit. Spring lasted but a short while then into heady summers. Loved it. Really! I experienced the same thing in upstate New York. Life just cracked onwards.

Earlier l was on the phone complaining I was cold and would be better off at work, (on so many levels). She commented I should go and make a snowman to warm up and have some fun. Then it dawned on me hard. The kids haven't made one this year! Shown no intent, no interest, just happy and no school. I asked them, shall we go and make a snowman? They both looked up only with their eyes, through their long lashes and half scowling half with mockery, said in unison 'Nah Mum!' as if, WTF was l thinking. Another moment of childhood. Gone.

It must be cold. I am always hot. In the sense that I am always flushing. It's my age. I've just changed into warmer clothing. I'm wearing thick jeans, a cashmere long baggy jumper, a cashmere cardi and a large pashmina. Uggs on my now warm toots! Sitting in front of the one gas fire. Everyone else is in their own room, in bed, under their duvet, online. The modern family unit, apart and together!

Not a snowman in sight.

The year the sea froze
1963 Hampton, Herne Bay

my dog Butch on the far left

Me & my Dad (JP) 1963
Hampton Promenade
Herne Bay, Kent


  1. It seems that much of England is stuck in a snowy, deep freeze. Clearly what I need to do is aim an enormous, high powered hair dryer in the general direction of the country, and start thawing you people out! You and another blogging Brit are up to your eyeballs in the white stuff.

    I'm in Colorado, Triple F, and no stranger to snow, but you're dead right, it's being prepared that is key. I'm wishing you some substantial melting.

    In the meantime, you could try baking something (unless the gas is off to your oven also).

    I know what you mean about craving some peace and quiet. My son has been on break from college since the beginning of December. Every now and then I warn him that if he doesn't get out of my hair for a bit, I am going to tag him for sale on Ebay.

  2. Snazzy dad!
    We're due for a big dump (as they say here) tonight, but the snow plows will be out, salt on the road etc so nothing will really happen.
    It was the photo of snow on Tynemouth beach that really stunned me. I can't remember ever seeing that before.
    My brother-in-law is in charge of all the Royal Mail vans in the north east - basically threw the towel in last night!

  3. Oh, I am so sorry you are in such deep snow!
    It makes such a difference when you are prepared, which here they certainly are. Quite a treat after living on the US East Coast, afraid of snowflakes.

    I hope you will be able to stay warm again after the repairman comes tomorrow (I know he will!).
    Warm hugs,

  4. I LOVE, Love the picture of you and your daddy!

    I am cold in my house too!

    It is nice to be alone at home sometimes!

  5. Dearest, dearest Saz...I am relieved to hear that you do have a gas fire...So, so sorry about the boiler!!! That's horrid!!! And my heart grieves with you over the snowman...couldn't get my guy to build one this year either!!!! Sigh...Hope your boiler is fixed soon! And that everyone goes off to do their thing so you can have a little space to yourself!!! Sounds lovely!!! Btw, love some of the new your slideshow!!! Very classy!!! Love you!!! Janine XO

  6. Hope you get the boiler fixed. What a calamity.

    Too bad that the children are *too old* for snow men building.

    This weather is diabolical.

    Nuts in May

  7. Gosh I'm so with you on this one! My H has been home since 19th too Agh! Give me strength! I just want a quiet day with my children, snowed in, just the three of us, or alternatively snowed in in BS5! Either or both would do, is it too much to ask??

    Good luck with the boiler, I wish I lived nearer..................... then I could use your washing machine, hee hee!!


  8. Sorry to hear you're without the boiler in this weather. And that your kidlets won't make a snowman. I might just make one myself next sticky snowfall.

    You described my Montreal childhood winters so well that it brought me back. Thank you for that. Your memories were so concrete for me.

    Loved the photo of you and your Dad. Very sweet.

    Do your own self a favour.. go make a snow angel. Really. :)

  9. Good luck with the boiler - our heating unit went kaput on New Years Day and is now parially repaired - the remaining part should be in Friday. BUT we had gas logs in the fireplace and managed to stay quite cozy.

  10. We are following BBC news, and feel your pain. Your description of a day when everyone is home, waiting for life to get back to normal brings the problem to the forefront. Ouch. Hope things change, or that everyone is out there making snowmen and throwing snow balls.

  11. Wow, wyour Dad a stylish dude! and I can tell, he really knew how to walk. When it's too cold for snowmen, it's too cold. Take care~rick

  12. You're the third person in two days who I've heard say that their boiler has packed up. Why aren't they made to withstand constant use?

    And why is the UK always so unprepared for severe weather conditions?

  13. I don't envy you all that snow. San Francisco is just fine by me...year round mild temperatures. Even now, at 1:30AM, it's only 45 degrees and it was up to 60 degrees today...nice and sunny out. No shoveling snow or skidding on ice and I am thankful!

  14. I don't thing snowmen are the fashion anymore, Amy hasn't bothered either. The snow just keeps on falling up here in the Northumberland and we already have over a foot and a half of it. Soon, we'll be living like eskimos.

    CJ xx

  15. Darling, you really have had it tough up there in 't'north. Now it is our turn and with the boiler going full tilt [even pops resists turning it off and you know how he feels about heat in empty rooms ]-it is beginning to make noises that displease.And there are no logs to be had within a fifty mile radious.
    Wondered what had happened to that picture, and, by the way, the sea was frozen beside where you were walking-a phenomenum that made the National News. Wer'nt you the cutest thing with your pigtails?

    Shame about the snowman, but I bet if you went out and started one they would soon join you.

  16. Wow, photos of Hernia Bay (loved the one of you and your dad). 1963 was before my time - my parents moved there in the early 70s.

    I remember Hampton. There used to be a pub/hotel on top of the hill that used to be owned by Peter Noone's parents (he of Herman's Hermits). I can't remember the name of the pub.

  17. I am alone now and think it would be nice to swap with you for a day and have a crowded house (Mr FF is working in Paris). But I think a day would be enough - I've got so used to the silence that I think lots of other voices might drive me a bit mad (although I have got two bichons who could bark for Britain)

    Hope the boiler is sorted soon

  18. It comes back to me: I think it was called The George Hotel.

  19. Isn't the pub the Hampton Inn? (Always made me smirk)
    Herne Bay my old 2nd home - still drop by from time to time on the way home from work for memories... and there's a good music shop in the High Street...

    Hope your boiler is fixed soon. Plenty having similar problems I think.

    I was born in Oct 62 so my Mum always went on about that winter - she had to push me everywhere in a huge old Silver Cross Pram.

    87 is the one I remember - we had about 4ft in my part of Kent and rationing in the shops for food on the 2nd day... I kid not.

    But why can't we be more prepared in this country?

  20. Oh dear, how I enjoyed your post today. Lovely to catch up with you and hear about the daily ins and outs.

    Time to yourself! Alone! Of course you need this and I'm crossing my fingers you can have some soon. Alone is not lonely.

    No snowman. The passing of childhood...oh, let's not get started. It makes me so sad. Why is it like this?

    This morning my car doors would not open for being frozen shut. Three inches of slush from yesterday froze into a killer layer of ice over everything. Yes, we're "prepared" for it here in the northwestern U.S., but I still hate the moments of scraping my windshield with a credit card to scour out a dinner-plate sized window to see through.

    It's times like these that make us appreciate summer.

    I love the photo of you and your dad on the beach.


  21. Stopping by the say Happy New Year!
    I've seen on the BBC how bad you were hit....we are expecting snow in Baltimore, Maryland...tonight but only a few inches....we had 24 inches the weekend before Christmas but that is all gone....two days of rain washed it all away.

    Wishing you the best in 2010,
    Hope it stops snowing...soon!

  22. Oo, I do feel for you. I was only thinking today that I was glad our boiler packed up two years ago and we replaced it then. Hope you get sorted soon! I also hope that you still have old fashioned hot water bottles; they were a godsend for us. At least you have a gas fire and hopefully a gas cooker.

    I know what you mean about being prepared for this weather. I don't mind going to work tomorrow, but I'm dreading the journey on icy roads with a car that isn't equipped for it.

    My dad, aged 62, has walked to work this week (journey of a few miles) because he can't get his car safely out of his own road - even though he asked weeks ago for the council to provide a grit box and he offered to grit the road himself!

    It seems that we just can't travel in this weather.

  23. I have to get to work by bike every day which means extra layers until only my nose and eyes are on view! This afternoon I got home and was actually sweating as if it were summer! Tomorrow however, they are expecting more cold and during the weekend yet more snow and cold. I just hope my heating doesn't pack in!

  24. Snow is expected here tomorrow morning in time to make the commute a mess ... and then joy oh joy even colder temps, colder than this week, next!

  25. Jo took me over to Liverpool today and I was surprised at just how many snowmen there were. Definitely alive and well on Merseyside!
    (Mind you, it helps that Liverpool aren't gritting their roads...)

  26. You too with the boiler? Ours decided to spill gallons of water all over the downstairs carpet on the morning of Sally's piano exam... I stepped into the boiler cupboard as if splashing in the deepest puddle. Thankfully British Gas came the same day. Having a child under two has some advantages.

  27. I really enjoyed this post, had me thinking and it made me feel calm for the first time today - thank you xxx

  28. dUMDAD...



  29. Hi Saz,

    I hope you will visit me at my new writing place. I am cold here in the my area too! Winter in every way.

  30. I am wishing for snow - just a little. Snow in the desert is not that likely though :0(

  31. I hope that you have got your boiler fixed by now. Because our boiler is in the garage the frost stat has had it in constantly for about a month now. I daren't think about it breaking down or how much oil we are using.

    When I was a child, growing up in Yorkshire, we had snow every winter and I do not remember missing even one day of school beacuse of it and my father never had a day off work because of it. What has happened to this country?

  32. The engineer actually mentioned that boilers in the 60s and 70's could take colder weather than the boiler made today!

    In the 60s chains were used in the regular snowy winters.

    We are lulled into a false sense of continuity and for some reason think we are infallible. Why cos we are British? or are we just useless at planning, budgeting and preparing. I think its laughable and quite shocking that we are in this situation. We pay people with our taxes to sort this out. We rely on them. Obviously we shouldn't.

    Something has to give. It is ridicuous. Here endeth the lesson!

  33. Patrick,

    Thanks for the link. Brings back memories!

  34. I admire anyone who can live in the snow. I tend to have hot flashes and like to sleep with my window open just a bit at night for that cool breeze, however....snow? Not for me. I like my house just a tad cool. Then, I like to put on my socks and get under my comfy comforter.

    The idea of plowing snow and driving on ice is not my idea of a place to live :).

    Hope things get better for you Saz. I love having the house to myself. I think, at our age, the mood swings between lonely and desiring company, is normal lol!

  35. so love the photo of the adorable you and the dashing JP! a treasure.

    I've been on a nostalgia kick this Xmas.

  36. - forgot the link.
    Stay about a virtual snowman? Love the line about the modern family unit - I don't think it was much different when I was growing up - just different type of diversions.

  37. Oh god, that picture. It is devine. How tall he is!

    Sad, it is, to think very hard on the modern family, each to each. Here too.

    Today I walked for miles out of town and up over hills and through knee deep snow. It was gorgeous. But not one snowman was seen. My kids were with their father. But I did have a brilliant time.



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Thanks for stopping by!

Take the weight of your feet, draw up a chair and pour yourself a cuppa. Leave your troubles at the door and together we shall ride out the storms.
I will walk a while in your shoes...

Saz x

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