Sunday, February 08, 2009

We were peacefully discussing, yesterday morning, whether to make an attempt to go to Chatsworth and if so which route to take. Suddenly I heard water. Now this wasn't so surprising. I did, after all, have the washing machine going. But normally the washing machine doesn't make a sound which says: You have a new water feature in your kitchen! I abandoned the Chatsworth discussion and vanished into the kitchen. To discover that the washing machine had decided that the cupboard under the sink clearly needed cleaning out and had proceeded to wash it.

Definite pause while The Builder sorted all that out. And no trips to anywhere until the washing machine had finished washing the clothes. It would have been a bit of a (tiny) disaster if that had happened when we were both out!

We decided that we would go to Chatsworth and that we would take the major roads, which are a bit of a long way around for us, but I didn't fancy the road down to Beeley in the snow and ice (It's narrow, winding and above all - steep). It was a glorious morning. The sun was sparkling off the snow in the fields. The roads were nice and clear - of snow and of traffic. Even Chatsworth wasn't as busy as it usually is, although there was a huge queue at the butcher's counter. This was largely because of an absolute twonk who had announced that he had bought some of their sausages some weeks ago and had been very disappointed with them. Far too meaty and much too heavy and nothing like as good as his local butcher who made sausages to die for. Tell you what - he'll have a single sausage of each variety they do and then test them and see what's what. Chatsworth does about 15 varieties of sausage. Each one had to be weighed and wrapped separately. Took FOR EVER!!!!! Has to be said that the person serving him remained remarkably patient. But you could see it was an effort! Eventually, however, I got my half lamb pack and a few other bits and pieces and we set off again.

We decided, given that the roads all seemed to be fairly clear, to try going across the moors to the garden centre. The roads had clearly all been gritted (either Derbyshire wasn't running out of salt, or it had sourced a new supply somewhere), the views were spectacular, it was really just a beautiful morning. Still cold, mind you. About -10d when we got up, rising to about 3d in the afternoon. Even the little roads running up through Wingerworth had been gritted and were clear of snow. And the sun is beginning to get some warmth into it now. The snow is beginning to melt where the sun is getting to it. We can see the vegetable beds again now, and the cabbages are emerging from their snow doona.

I turned my laptop on when we got home, and found a BBC breaking news alert in my email inbox saying that 14 people were believed dead in the Victorian bushfires. I didn't go to the BBC for further information, but to the Age. And then to ABC radio. I appreciate that what was unfolding in Victoria was a catastrophe on a far grander scale than our snow last week, but I was deeply impressed that 774 (ABC radio station covering Melbourne and Victoria) had more or less cleared its programming schedule and turned itself into an emergency broadcaster, conveying sensible, practical, useful information. I was considerably better informed about what was happening in Victoria yesterday than I had been last week about what was happening in and around Sheffield. Better informed, in fact, than my Australians were, given that I was listening while they were, I believe, all tucked up in their beds.

It's all a bit grim, mind. Parts of Britain are still bedevilled by snow chaos, and more is expected in southern Britain this week. Victoria is ablaze, scorched and arid. 65 people confirmed dead, Kinglake and Marysville gone, lots of other places also affected. And Queensland is underwater and possibly also expecting a cyclone. Mercifully, as far as I know, the blog readers all remain fit, well and safe.
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