Cabin Fever

Nearly a week of being snowed in and cabin fever has hit hard. Hubby is cowering under the duvet with his laptop trying to work, at least that’s what he claims to be doing. Although I suspect he is hiding from the kids who, sick of sledging and snow play, are hanging about inside being generally annoying: wasting time playing mindless games on their phones for example, rather than reading an improving book by a warming fire. Or bothering to put a log on the warming fire rather than letting it go out. Or bothering to do anything sensible like putting stuff away after using it without having to be nagged constantly – or – you get my drift. Drift! Ah! The bloody snow! I’m sick of the sight of it. The winter wonderland novelty that had me snapping away with the camera has totally worn off and outside has a bleached out uninspiring feel. Still, I need to get out.

Actually, once I wade out of the woods the top road is reasonably clear, snow crunched into subservience by the heavy tread of passing tractors. There’s no sign of a snow plough or gritters however and in parts the wind has petulantly whipped the snow back into deep drifts burying the tracks.

On the hill the farmer and his wife are exhausted having spent the last few days struggling to look after their flock – hampered by the fact that every time they get out on the road to reach outlying fields they have come across motorists stranded in the snow who need rescuing, not least because they are blocking the road so the tractor can’t pass. Meanwhile their sheep huddling against a wall or a fence are being entombed in drifts. It’s been a tough couple of days and I’m pleased to inform them that despite our  initial incompetent state of unpreparedness we are now comfortably snowed in and not needing rescuing, although maybe some counselling. A cup of coffee and bit of farm chat makes me feel much better and I’m feeling relatively buoyant until Mr Farmer gets up from the kitchen table to carry on. There’s precious little time for socialising for him – and my dog dozing underneath is taken by surprise. The hound takes a flying leap at him and he only narrowly avoids the flashing canines making contact with his thigh because I’ve still got hold of the end of the lead. The farmer is very nice and understanding about it but I’m mortified and resolve to invest more time on dog training once the snow abates.

Undeterred by the hiccup, socialising-despite-the-snow is high on my list of priorities the following day and with the rest of the family enjoying a lie in, which I don’t, I head off a few miles in the other direction this time to reach our next nearest neighbour, giant John. John is a larger than life character with a powerful build to match. When he visits our diminutive cottage his impressive stature appears the stuff of legend and fairytale as he stoops through the door and fills our tiny kitchen. He will never live down the time he sat on a spindly wooden chair and it shattered into pieces beneath him, to a chorus of laughter from the kids.

John is in high spirits when I arrive, despite not having seen a soul for days and he needs little persuading to pour a liberal splash of Grappa into our coffee. I developed a taste for the fragrant brandy on holiday last year and it’s quickly become a tradition for us to indulge in the heady beverage when I visit. I stay to enjoy a lunch of hearty venison soup, thick slices of home cured pork shoulder and homemade soda bread before turning for home.

Other than routine tasks including feeding the hens and walking the dogs, jobs have been relatively scarce since the snow came as it’s impossible to get much done. The kitchen is draped with wet outdoor gear so I’ve discontinued use of the washing machine until further notice as we have nowhere to dry anything. Actually it’s a nice break. The car however has been marooned at the top of the track since Tuesday and needs digging out as main roads are gradually being cleared and a return to some semblance of normality is likely after the weekend. When I get home, youngest agrees to join me in the task, for a small fee.

The track up to the car is a mile long and covered in two feet of snow drifts so it’s an energy sapping mission just to reach it. But we manage to dig out our snow blasted vehicle and test drive it up to the main road, which is gritted and clear.  So the day is a success and I feel we are surviving this rather cruel return to winter reasonably well. We are not reduced to sucking on pheasant bones for sustenance and as I write hubby has shouldered a backpack and gallantly volunteered to hike in the first replenishment of supplies, which need to be carried across the drifts as there’s no chance of getting the car anywhere near the house for some time.

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Our spirit of adventure, though a little tarnished after a long week cooped in together, is not broken. Although tonight I will raise a medicinal hot toddy and make a toast for a speedy end to this snow and please, it can’t be far away – the start of Spring.

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