When we booked a weekend in the Lakes with friends for the end of March, we imagined hosts of golden daffodils, walks in the crisp spring sunshine or at least the crisp spring rain, and lots of fresh air for the kids.
What we didn’t predict was driving up north through increasingly treacherous conditions, seeing lorries blown over on the other carriageway, the car in front of us suddenly sliding back and forth across the motorway, snow drifting across the country lanes and having to drive through said drifts to reach the cottage. All the while knowing we couldn’t turn back in case we got stranded. With a three year old and a not-yet-five month old. The older of which was wide awake and saying unbearably cute things like ‘look at my tiny hands! Me and Asher are so tiny!’, as if to remind us what foolhardy parents we were, ever to embark on this journey.
Once we reached the cottage, which belonged to my late great-aunt, and which I’ve been visiting almost all my life, the snow came down thicker and faster. Our friends couldn’t reach the cottage and had to turn around for home, so it was just us four, in a remote location, unable to travel anywhere by car, or, really by foot, unsure of when we’d be able to get home.
As crises go, it was totally bourgeois: trapped! But with home-made marmalade, plenty of teabags (normal and lady grey), enough food for five adults including a cheeseboard, an open fire and a fully-functioning aga. I know, the heart bleeds. But it was genuinely stressful for me and G, not least because in a situation where the natural instinct is ‘I want my Mum’, the realisation that you ARE Mum is uncomfortable. We were responsible for keeping two very small very precious people
(one of whom- Leila- had chicken pox starting to appear) safe, warm and happy as long as we were stuck there. And for getting them home safely when the roads opened- a prospect which filled us with dread.
There was no internet (by gads!) so we were kept informed by Radio Cumbria, which came to feel like a friend. We could only go outside for 20 minutes at a time a max, as it was so cold. So we slowed the pace down, piled on the thermals, and enjoyed the enforced family time, in between grinding our teeth with worry.
Spoiler alert: we made it home fine, and resolved never to take travel warnings lightly. These experiences become woven into the fabric of family history, and I’m happy to be making memories with these three, even if I’d prefer it if the memories were mostly less cold, with fewer feet of snow, and didn’t involve being stranded, trapped or anything else panicky like that.
Meanwhile I jotted down some notes on my iPhone (strange how one is compelled to fiddle with one’s iPhone somehow, anyhow, even when there is no internet), entitled Observations On Being Snowed In:
– It’s a good thing we all like each other
– Three-year-olds still behave like maniacs even when you really, really need them not to, like when you’re struggling through horizontal snow with her on a sledge (screaming) and he in a sling (looking cold and silent, which was somehow worse).
– Babies also have no regard for a crisis situation and continue to wake up all night, need feeding etc etc.
– The previous two points are oddly reassuring!
– Thank goodness for boobs. If we were running out of milk for the baby, things would be so much worse.
– As ever, the calming power of tea should not be underestimated. Also, wine.
– Mad threenager moments aside, Leila is a proper trouper.
– My G is a wonderful man (sorry, readers, for the schmaltz. But he OWNED this crisis)
– I am not as neurotic as I thought, and managed not to dwell for too long on how much like the plot of a horror movie this was (and whether those deep imprints in the snow outside the window were footprints. And whether, when I looked out of the window at night, there’d be a man standing in the deserted drive- wibble…). Yeah, didn’t dwell on it for TOO long.
– There’s no place like home