Monday, January 14, 2008

Winter Weather


On Friday,Sarah and I ventured out to investigate bookbinders in Bristol and to visit the Central Library, it being dissertation time for her. While we were in the library, it began to snow. We decided to take a break for lunch before making our way to the second bindery, so stopped off at
Zero Degrees for goats cheese salad and a side of fries to share. It was delicious. The precipiation continued, sometimes as snow and sometimes as rain, and sometimes as a mixture.

Our bindery research revealed that one business is a more traditional establishment while the other is interested in less routine projects and does not regard slip boxes as too much bother. I think I know which one she'll commission for the job.

We left Bristol just before four and noticed the pretty dusting of snow on the hills of Ashton Court Park and the surrounding fields. We soon had ample opportunity to peruse our surroundings as the traffic ground to a halt on the Long Ashton bypass. We slowly inched homewards for the next hour and a bit, while hearing about delays on the roads caused by the weather, but it was difficult to grasp just what was going on. As we reached the end of the dual carriageway a couple of miles and probably 70 minutes later, we espied a large lake of water in the underpass below us and a lone policeman stopping all cars. It was hard to see what was happening and we were surprised to be told to do a u-turn and go back the way we had come, as the road ahead was closed. It became clear that the traffic we had seen travelling in the opposite direction had been similarly directed, and we commenced a stop-start crawl in the opposite direction, while the queue the other way stretched beyond our vision.

I began to feel quite panicky: the policeman had been unable to say whether we would be able to reach our village or which way we should go, and meanwhile we were getting nowhere fast in a gridlock situaton. We passed a BBC Radio Bristol car in the layby and moments later heard him broadcasting an update on what was happening, except that his information was incomplete and he thought the road was closed in one direction but that traffic was getting through the other way. Were we totally cut off from home? Which alternative route to try?

Eventually we reached the next exit and wove our way through a village and back roads to Nailsea and onwards back to the A370 without incident, and eventually arrived home more than two and a half hours after we had started the journey, which would normally take 20-30 minutes. I was so glad to reach home! So were my younger two: the school bus could not get through and they were stranded until their Dad was able to collect them.

However, the stress was not yet over. Sarah and I had been invited to a friend's home in the village for a "girls' night in" and, much as I fancied crawling into my bed as I was exhausted, we went along. However, it transpired that our river was on Flood Alert for the high tide at 9pm, and two of the girls live in the area at highest risk of flooding. They were alarmed that the Millenium Green, on the riverside, was flooded, although as one of the menfolk was reported as saying, that meant it was doing its job as flood plain and part of the flood defences.

Eventually, worry got the better of them and they went home to move valuables upstairs and to cover air bricks and so forth. For the rest of the evening, we kept looking out of the window to see if there was water lapping round the cars outside, but in the event, all was well.

On Saturday, I went back to Long Ashton for the monthly meeting of the Avon Guild of Spinners,Weavers and Dyers. It was interesting to see how quickly the flooding had resolved: apart from two driveways dammed with sandbags, a lot of puddles and one lane apparently resurfaced in brown earth, there was nothing to show for the drama of the previous day.

However, further very heavy rainfall is forecast for tomorrow. Action replay? Certainly the ground is still sodden, so if there is another heavy deluge then run-off flooding in the area is very likely. Seems like a good day for things domestic and creative and not stepping foot over the doorstep. Luckily, this house is on relatively high ground, so we are in no immediate danger, but it's a worry for the community. Ironically, my copy of a pertinent book arrived on Friday, so maybe I'll curl up on the sofa with it and my knitting, if I can find it. Anyone seen a little purple bag containing a little purple sock knitting - it's gone AWOL?


Helen Cowans said...

Sounds like a good day but an awful jounrey home - glad you got back safely. Hope you survive this weeks weather.

Liz said...

I was listening to Radio Bristol on Friday and heard all about the floods... when I was safe and warm and dry.... sorry you got stuck in all the mayhem.