Yesterday I had an experience I don’t want to repeat in a hurry. We’ve had snow a few times since coming to live in England, but nothing like yesterday’s adventure. We will have to start calling Morrisons the snow shop, as once again we went into the store with no precipitation at all, only to leave some fifteen minutes later with a storm of sleet blowing us to the car. We headed for home, a journey usually taking about half an hour through the Tyne Tunnel. We chose that route because the GPS was threatening a twenty minute delay in the city – and we’d already seen the bank up of cars when driving to the coast. We’d barely left Morrisons when the sleet became snow. It will never lie, we said, there’s been too much rain and the ground is damp. But by the time we got to the toll gates it was already starting to lie on the verges and by the time we were half way home we were looking at a very wintry landscape. And it went downhill from there. We thought we’d go to Tesco on the way home to organise Kevin’s glasses. Tesco is normally a five minute drive from home. An hour later, shaking in our boots from the drive down the hill from Deckham, we pulled gingerly into Cemetery Road, and parked in front of the house. Driving down Wordsworth Street and back up the lane was a bridge too far, we felt. And certainly, when we got in and looked out through the kitchen window, all we saw was a white landscape. It hasn’t thawed yet, though we had some rain last night. But it was 0 degrees when we drove Michael into work this morning, and hasn’t risen above 4.5 all day. The snow still sits on roofs and cars, the cemetery – where we went to pick holly this afternoon – is white and icy patches await the unwary.
Yesterday we got our first Christmas card of 2015. And yesterday I posted cards to friends and family in Australia. But I fear this may be the last year. The cards cost, perhaps, 10 to 25p each to buy but £1.30 to send. Well, you might say, buy more expensive cards to make it worthwhile. Which is one argument. Send e-cards is another. But some of our friends are older than us by, in at least one case, twenty years, and still haven’t mastered the internet. And the corollary to that argument is that one day they will die and the problem will be solved. But we won’t wish them away in a hurry.
Presents are another matter. I went mad this year and bought things for everyone – and pricing one parcel presented me with the prospect of paying £50 to post a parcel worth, at the very most, £20. So that one really isn’t going to happen. The presents have been taken out and will be posted to the recipients as birthday presents instead – they are children with a large extended family so they won’t miss our little contribution at Christmastime.
For those of you who have been enjoying your Advent Calendar, while a Victorian Christmas looks very pretty, especially with the magnificently decorated tree (I change mine twice a day), and today the lovely stained glass windows, I fear the reality, as noted by Charles Dickens, was very different. Now is a good time to re-read A Christmas Carol and reflect on the many things that have improved over the years. Though death and taxes will always be with us.