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March 15, 2018

The Day It Snowed In St Ives

I grew up in deepest, darkest, highest Yorkshire where snow was really snow. My childhood Winter memories are full of sledging, snowballs and snow forts. We wore woolly gloves (the sort that snow sticks to in little pompoms) and hand knitted socks and jumpers. We got chapped lips and chillblains on our hands and feet. It was just Winter.

We moved to St Ives in 2011. For 6 Winters we barely had a frost. It is WARM down here, even compared to just up the hill in Trencrom. I missed proper Winter. It’s a small price to pay for living in such an amazing place. But I really was starting to miss proper, bleak Winters.

What made me the saddest is that my kids hadn’t experienced real snow. They hadn’t had that excited feeling of waking up to a new snowy morning. Full of anticipation and hopefully school closures. They hadn’t played out in the snow, built snow men and thrown snowballs at each other. They hadn’t laid in the snow like a snow angel, catching snow on their tongues.

Early this week, the forecasters started telling us that “The Beast From The East” was on it’s way. Cornwall should panic buy bread and milk and do not go out unless it is absolutely necessary. Phiff to that I said, we don’t get snow in St Ives. It will never happen.

Yesterday, it was a bitterly cold but bright, sunshiny morning. Not a chance of snow I said. I stomped down the hill to run some errands in town. It was a grand morning in the harbour. Bright light and sunshine danced around without a hint of snow. And then I walked back up the hill home. Straight into a blizzard.

Cue one daft, middle aged woman dancing in the snow.

It snowed! Proper thick white flakes that landed and laid in luxurious, smooth carpets. My boots even made the crump, crumping noise. Oh the joy!

St Ives then went into a bit of a melt down. Schools and businesses closed up and cars tried to take to the roads. Nothing had really been gritted though and so most of the roads were pretty much impassable. The Stennack and The Coach Road were okay, but all other roads were a perfect, white blanket. Impossible to drive safely on.

But we had to pick up the kids! My daughter goes to school in Nancledra, just out of St Ives. Her school is in the middle of farmland down windy lanes. My husband dashed to collect her as soon as we had the call. He was one of the lucky ones to get in and out quickly. He said it was a hair raising slow slide back down into St Ives, but they made it. Others didn’t. There were car casualties left, right and centre of the roads. Car skidded, people panicked and abandoned ship! No one down here knows how to drive in the snow.

I can just hear my Dad’s driving in snow advice ringing in my ears “just gently tap your brakes and make small turns, nothing big”.

This is the first time I’ve been a “proper” grown up in snowy conditions. I now know why my Mum used to look at the first signs of snow without glee. Keeping everything going and running as normal takes so much more effort in the snow. For one thing, juggling work with the kids being at home is tricky. And then there are the bits like no milk deliveries, we can’t get the car out of the road and the local shop has run out of my favourite chocolate!

Life when it snows in the UK simply has to slow down. Today won’t be the big, productive business day. Today we won’t get all the things done.

Tomorrow it is due to warm up. The snow will disappear and our “big snow” will become a lovely, snow-tinted memory. Tomorrow will be a more productive day.

But for now, the kids are playing out in the garden building a little snow people family. I’m about to go out and join them. Later on we will walk into town and look at all of our favourite spots covered in snow. When we get too cold, we will walk back home, light a fire, drink hot chocolate and wait for the warm wind to blow.

Snow On Porthmeor Beach Cornwall




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