Snow Day (for being out) pt 1.

There’s a certain light, even at night, that tells you there is snow outside. Even through thick curtains I could tell there was a blanket covering the road and gardens this morning. It was a little warmer than the night before, too. I looked out of the window and there it was.

I was looking forward to trying out the 4×4 in these conditions, as I needed to get confident in driving in them. An early morning start for work was the ideal opportunity. There would be little traffic on the roads and I could get to grips (pun intended) with 4 wheel drive. I set off just before 7am, down the hill towards the main road. I knew that 4wd wouldn’t help me stop; in fact, the heavier car would make it harder. So I let the engine do the braking and with little effort made it safely to the bottom.

The main road wasn’t much better than my road, and the car in front was struggling to make any of the little inclines. In the end, I had to move into the opposite lane to get past it as it got completely stuck. On the journey to work, I had to do this several times as people were not keeping momentum going, and finding it impossible to do hill starts. I had no problems in the Freelander – it was much better than I expected and made the journey an enjoyable challenge rather than a stressful trek. It took me twice as long to get to work but I arrived safely. Of course, there were very few others in and the message telling people the office was closed had been issued after I set off from home. I stayed for a while but decided to leave when the snow started falling more heavily, and drifting in the wind.

The journey home, now in the light, was better. For the most part, the roads were a little clearer (although some drivers were still not keeping the momentum going and were struggling on hills). I stopped half way home to take some photos and then made it back to my house. It was so satisfying to slowly drive up my road, an impossible drive in any other car I’ve ever owned. I even managed an uphill parallel park outside my house. Big grin!

But that all disappeared when I got in to the house. I could smell gas straight away. The only gas fire that was on was in the hall, and when I checked, it had gone out. I opened all the windows, then the front and back door. That always creates a wind tunnel through the house and sure enough the wind howled from front to back, clearing the gas. It also blew in a load of snow from the front door, where it had drifted. Now my hall was snow-bound, too. As soon as it was safe to do so, I closed the doors and lit the fire in the living room.

After a well earned coffee, I thought I’d walk down to Singleton Park and take photos of the snow laden trees. I even hoped to catch a squirrel or two against the snow. I negotiated the slushy paths (it was harder than driving) and made it to the park. But there was no snow. I could have been in a different part of the country. What little snow there was appeared to be confined to little patches; most of the grass was green and the trees completely clear. I wandered down to the main road, also snow free, and the across to the beach. The tide was in and the sea was rough and grey. It was very choppy and there was a strong wind blowing in from the east.

Disappointed, I turned around and walked back. There were lots of families with sledges, looking for snow to slide down and all of the kids were complaining. Back in Sketty, the snow appeared again, and it started to snow quite heavily too. By the time I got back to my house, big flakes were coming down. I had to clear the steps from the street and as I was doing that, the snow was recovering them. In the end, I gave up. Coffee was calling.

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Get lost

Off to the hills this afternoon with my walking buddy Rufus. We headed on up to Garreg Lwyd, a gentle hill I usually use as a nice introduction back to hillwalking after a break. It’s an easy slope but the potential is there to go on and on and make a full day. I’ve mentioned before that one day I’m going to walk from there across to Fan Brecheiniog, which can be seen in the distance.

Today, it was misty and windy but not particularly cold. We set off in the clear but quickly climbed into the cloud level. There were the occasional moments of drizzle but it was mainly dry. Very soon, we were on the top of the mountain, as signified by the huge double cairn and the tiny trig point. But the path onwards to Foel Fraith was invisible in the murk. Nevertheless, we headed off in the general direction and after a sweep around in the general direction I knew the path to be in, we picked it up. Shortly afterwards, the mist cleared and we had a good walk up to the second mountain. On the top, we were once again in mist but it was dry and we sat and ate our respective snacks.

On the way back, I followed the path all the way to the top of Garreg Lwyd, once again in the mist. But for some reason, I headed off towards the north rather than west. I followed what I thought was the correct way and it only goes to show that you should never trust your senses when you have no reference points. I felt I knew where I was going and it was only when the mist lifted for a moment that I noticed the workings of the limestone quarry on the north face of Garreg Lwyd on my left (it shouldn’t have been visible, and should have been to my right) that I realised something was wrong. Even then, although I turned back in the right direction, I veered once again in the mist and ended up on the summit of the quarry. Although I realised that there were sheer drops ahead, and had Rufus on the lead, it was still a shock that I hadn’t managed to correct the route deviation.

I checked the route on the phone (I was running an app to track my route) and used that to get back on track and soon after we were descending back to the car park again. Rufus was happy that he’d had a long run out. I was happy to see the car.

Rufus was less happy when he found himself having a shower when we got home, But shortly afterwards, he was flat out on my lap and he didn’t move for two hours.

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