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Day 4 - The Titfield Thunderbolt
Heisenberg might have stayed here
Day 4
Yesterday morning, we marvelled at a 4x4 struggling to tow a Transit van up the hill. Yesterday afternoon, we marvelled at a council lorry coming down the hill to fill the grit bin at the bottom. I suspect it's been emptied now, but some of our neighbours appear to have cleared enough of a track up the hill in the mean time.

This morning I went to get a paper, as usual, and observed that the track ran out at the next house up the hill beyond our garage, and the flat section at the top looked rather treacherous. The petrol station had papers but no milk. As I returned, I noticed possibly the same lorry and a council digger heading into uitlander's former estate. As far as milk goes, we're now into the soya substitute, which seems to be surprisingly palatable and has obviously been flavoured to taste something like semi-skimmed, I think.

So we cleared more of the driveway (it's double-width) and I did a three-point turn so that I could drive out forwards, and we headed to Sainsbury's. The stretch of road that looked treacherous was treacherous, but fortunately no-one was coming in the opposite direction and cars were parked with sufficient space to pass. Once out onto the treated roads, it wasn't too bad. Even Reading Buses were running (only as far as the roundabout on the main road through the village).

Sainsbury's was hell, though the provisions we required were generally in stock. I suppose I had bought more than usual, but still, I could have done without the re-scan, especially as they kept announcing that they were doing their best to keep people moving at the busy checkouts.

I'm in two minds about whether to head out for work on Monday. I gather from people at work that the roads probably get better as you head towards Oxford. I suspect it largely depends on what happens meteorologically between now and then - if the forecast is accurate, we will miss the worst of the snow on Sunday evening. (But we are due "light snow" from this afternoon onwards, and the BBC's definition of "light" does not seem to correspond to mine).

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uitlander From: uitlander Date: January 9th, 2010 03:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not that it's much comfort I'm sure, but WBDC's version of Pravda says:

"The main priority is that we are continuing to grit the A&B roads. These were treated overnight. We are now using a mix of sand and grit which should help to improve traction for vehicles on the compacted snow. Extra treatments are also being carried out on the hazardous roads in specific areas, for example Tilehurst, Burghfield and Mortimer.

The Department of Transport has now set up a 'salt cell' to coordinate the distribution of the salt across the UK. As a result of this the Council has been advised that a delivery of 875 tonnes is due to be delivered to our depot over the next few days. 90 tonnes have already been received.

When this delivery arrives it is hoped, subject to weather, that we can start treating the roads that are currently untreated and in so doing replenish the grit bins. We will update when this will start as it is all reliant on the delivery arriving. "
qatsi From: qatsi Date: January 9th, 2010 03:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Bear in mind that's yesterday morning's news. (Obviously employing people to update the website over the weekend would be a tax-and-spend policy that can't be justified).

Another good work of fiction can be found here - we did actually see a bus in each direction during our trip out this morning, but I felt I couldn't rely on there being a service, and that it would be useful to judge the driving conditions myself anyway.

It would appear that the men who filled the grid bin yesterday were fulfilling their production quotas. To be fair, the conditions are unusually severe, but as you know, this corner of the country grinds to a halt whenever more than a handful of snowflakes appear.

I can't decide whether I am being mad or sensible to be moderately seriously considering whether to invest in snow chains for the car, just for the stretch of untreated road here.

Edited at 2010-01-09 03:57 pm (UTC)
uitlander From: uitlander Date: January 9th, 2010 04:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Somebody, and I don't recall who, was saying that chains are not road legal in the UK (I'm not at all sure I believe this). Given the vicious slope and bend your garage is on, I would be reluctant to move the car out of it in these conditions. I might have been tempted to park it on Tarragon Way instead and walk back to your house from there on the grounds that it is very flat.

I am feeling somewhat guilty, as we have had relatively little snow here, and pretty much everything apart from the road onto the estate is clear.
qatsi From: qatsi Date: January 9th, 2010 04:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
A quick trawl of Teh Interweb (the phrase "The Court of Public Opinion" seems to be in vogue) suggests that it is is a common myth, but that they are not illegal in the UK. There is no legal requirement to have them (unlike some European countries). And that they will be worse than useless except when crawling along roads with heavy snow or compacted ice (in fact, just like the hill outside then).
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