Having finally finished my accounts yesterday afteroon, I had to get them to the accountants. A neighbour was going that way this morning so I promised to deliver the files that afternoon so that they could drop them off. I also had to go and collect my post from over the valley where it had been left as a result of my impassable road, and buy a pint of milk. I know, I know. Surely these are not worthy of a blog entry. I mean they are everyday tasks that we all do without thinking. But you have forgotten, I live in a hovel on a hill where things are rarely easy. Are you sitting comfortably? Then let us begin..........
My journey started as all good journeys should - the packing of a wicker basket of provisions. This has an old fashioned charm to it as a concept, bringing to mind picnics and bottles of ginger ale. Sadly, my basket was packed with a bulging lever arch file for the accountants, but the premise is still a good one.
The Loyal Hound and I locked the door and set off through the corner gate at the bottom of the garden. He instantly shot off to explore the highly suspicious looking rushes that he obviously felt were harbouring all sorts of menaces (or thrills. It can be hard to tell). I stepped out over the white and frozen field, being careful not to wrench my ankles on the frozen cattle prints. Instantly the siberian wind crept through every gap and seam in my coat and gloves. Pulling my scarf over my face so that my lungs weren't stabbed by the needle like air, I carried on. We crossed throught the gate tied with baler twine and slid over the 4' frozen ditch on the other side. I then followed the hare tracks through the snow whilst the Loyal Hound set off on foraging parties to either side of me. Through the rushes I wended my way, the freezing wind nipping at my cheeks and numbing my gloved fingers. The route was a new one, for all the bogs and wet places were frozen solid and so passable with careful balancing and a cautious step. At the far corner, a drunken gate leaned against the fence post.
Frozen solid, it wouldn't move, so the Loyal Hound was tossed over the top and I scrambled over at the hinge end, wicker basket, accounts and all. We were nearing the farm at the bottom of this bit of the valley now and the loyal hound was put on the lead as we headed for the buildings on the far side. He pulled me over the skating rink that is normally a slow and steady running ditch and we made it to the yard, then finally onto the gritted road. The river at the bottom is now nearly entirely frozen over. You can hear the water running underneath but above are frozen waves and torrents. After stopping to chat to the ancient and permanently unwashed looking farmer (who kindly offered me parking space in his yard should I need it) we carried on with our errands. It's amazing how quiet it is. The sound of the stream is muffled by ice and the birds are too cold to sing. Most of the farm stock is in the sheds, munching on silage and huddling together for warmth. The few sheep who are outside are puffed up close to the ground, defrosting a patch of grass to have for their supper.
Swinging my basket down my side, and trying not to get pulled over by the hound when we hit slippery patches we wove our way down through the narrow lanes towards the village. We reached the car and then had the chilly job of trying to defrost the windscreen with hands so cold they couldn't hold anything. If the hound had sat still for long enough I might have just followed the sheep's example and lain him down on the windscreen to defrost a patch.
Eventually we were on our way. The files were delivered, the post collected and the milk bought. I had decided to try and get the car at least half way up the hill and in this we were successful. The worst bit was at the top, between the second gate and the cattle grid where we slid about in a graceless manner over the packed and frozen snow. I decided not to tackle the last bit of road as this was infitely worse than the prvevious section, so parked the car in the field and let loose the hound once more. Whilst he charged around investigating every rock, root and rut I realised that I would need to grit the road around my car if I wanted to ever be able to extract it again. The council gives us a grit bin every 1/4 mile or so but naturally no shovel. A rummage in the boot revealed a frisbee. This turned out to be an excellent gritting implement. It scoops well and sprinkles evenly. Who knew that they were such multifunctional things?
The temperature by now was dropping still further from the delightful -6.5 it had been at 3.00 o'clock so throwing the frisbee back in the car and putting the provisions in the trusty wicker basket, I pulled my hat down, whistled for the hound and we crossed the cattle grid and wove our way home down the icy road through the oncoming dusk.
It just goes to show that some days everyday tasks are simply not everyday.
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