Sunday, 10 January 2010

Trip into Town

Been feeling envious of everyone who has snow that didn't disappear almost as soon as it fell.  Not any more.

We've only had a couple of centimetres or so, but it is enough to keep us trapped in our cottage.  The track from the cottage that goes past the house then joins the chemin rural between the fields and up to the road along the ridge behind us is very steep in places.

We blithely thought we would go into town yesterday lunchtime, so de-snowed the merc and then set off. We got about 20 metres up the slope when the merc began to slide backwards, heading straight towards the shed wall and the batmobile beyond. So we stopped (quickly) and then spent the next hour barrowing grit from off the drive in front of the house where it's flatter, down the slope to the cottage and the merc.

This time, when Tod set off (I walked) the car tyres held and the merc got up the drive as far as the house. I bravely got back in, held my breath and we headed off up the chemin, between the fields, single car width track, ditches on either side and no room for error.

The top of the track onto the road is especially steep, so not the place to stop. With a couple of sways and slipping of wheels we took the top at a slow skid and turned onto the ridge road. Used to the heavy traffic of South East England, we naively had thought that the top road would have cleared but the French (sensibly) had stayed at home and so the roads were no better than our drive. We crawled our way into town, wondering quite what it was that we so urgently needed that we felt we had to come out.

On the other side of the road a van and a trailer were stuck half way up the hill that we were going down to get into town. We had that to look forward to on our way home. At a cross roads there were skid marks and a car with its front wheel wedged against the concrete of a land drain in a ditch - ouch, that looked expensive.

Tod slowly drew into a factory entrance to let a young road racer charge past. How was her car keeping its grip?

Apart from them, we had the road to ourselves.

We climbed out of the car in Leclerc's car park feeling like we'd driven up the Matterhorn. Inside there was a feeling of camaraderie among those of us who had made it and a surprising number of people in ordinary shoes (how did they manage on the snow) as we clumped round in our wellington boots. We added salt to our list of things to buy.

The roundabout coming back out of town caught us unawares (essential not to get complacent) and we gracefully glissé-ed into the kerb with a heavy thump, but otherwise the journey home was slow and tense but uneventful. Mind you, we haven't dared try getting out since.

Tod is off to Thailand tomorrow for two weeks and I am supposed to be taking him to Bordeaux airport. It's the first few hundred metres that are going to be the challenge. Fortunately if we really can't make it, Mick has offered to take Tod in his 4x4. Bless you Mick.

And the advice on the French forums? "Buy snow chains."

View from the top of our chemin rural

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