Winter is not the best time to be a new horse owner or to work further away from your home than you can walk.
As usual life has fallen outside of its usual patterns because it has snowed. And snowed. And there’s more forecast …
Even our snow-person looks slightly worried…
On Friday I had to go to work. It was forecast to be bad, but early in the morning it seemed OK and I got to work fine. By the time I got out of my unavoidable morning meeting at 11.15, it had all changed.
I headed for home then… assuming that the roads would be OK but I didn’t want to leave it any longer.
The roads weren’t OK. I got out of the car park and onto the road fine, but then at the next junction went into a skid and travelled down the road in a position that I found strongly reminiscent of riding, because mostly cars don’t do that leg-yield diagonal movement.
Luckily there was nothing coming the other way and eventually the car responded to my leg aids and we went forwards in the conventional manner again. Until we reached the pedestrian crossing 100 meters away, the lights of which did not give enough stopping warning for the conditions … and the school kids (who’d just been sent home) poured onto the crossing assuming I would be able to stop in time …
Although there was some skidding and ABS involved I did stop in time but by this point I had very little faith in my car’s ability to handle the conditions. Leaving massive gaps between me and the car in front I queued for the traffic lights to turn onto the Bristol Road, a major route which I had expected to be in a much better condition. Again, I was to be disappointed. General speed of myself and other drivers varied from about 15-20 mph. But at least it was moving. At least now I had a straight run to the motorway, so there’d be no more need to go round corners sideways and the motorway would get me home, if only I could get there …
In a zen-like first-gear trance me and my fellow drivers trundled through the city to the motorway. There are some steep slopes in and out of tunnels through the city which I had been concerned about, but they were more wet than snowy and I left a big gap in front of me so that I could trundle steadily up them and avoid having to stop halfway up a hill and risk not getting started again.
Eventually I reached the motorway, which was not too busy and mostly travelling at 30-40 mph and was able to relax and feel hopeful that I had a chance of getting home.
But of course I had a horse that needed riding …
Could I get to the stables? They are down single track lanes that would not have been cleared or had much traffic. I did not think I could manage them. However on the main road there is a lay by that I could leave the car in and walk to the stables. I reached it and contacted my husband, who was also trying to drive home. He decided to come and “rescue” me, collecting me from my car, driving me to the stables, waiting while I groomed, tacked up and rode and then, if necessary, giving me a lift home, because I was very concerned about the roads and junctions in our town.
Luckily there was room in the indoor school for me to ride (the 2 outdoor schools were under far too much snow to be useable) and we had a quick bit of exercise. I was really pleased with Drifter as it was the first time we’d rode with his turn-out partner in the same school. Drifter showed an initial hopefulness that he’d be allowed to follow the other horse round, but quickly understood that wasn’t the plan. I was also pleased because it was the first time that when the other horse cantered he didn’t try to canter too, but kept focussed on me.
After the ride my husband convinced me that if I followed him back home I’d be OK driving my car home rather than leaving it in the lay by.
He was mostly right. I did have some difficulties pulling away uphill in a queue to a junction (his heavier car was fine) and did do some more unexpected leg yield type movements near to our house, but it was reassuring to know he was there and I wasn’t on my own.
So we got home on Friday afternoon. And it kept on snowing. On Saturday we didn’t go out and Drifter didn’t get ridden. This morning the roads seemed a little clearer and my husband gave me a lift to ride and picked me up afterwards… but while I was riding it was snowing … and kept snowing all of today and the roads are now at the worst they’ve been so far. So we built the snow-person pictured above and I made a little snow-Drifter to make up for the lack of photos of the real thing. We made them a couple of hours ago and now the snow has re-covered the exposed grass and covered the snow-person’s features.
It looks quite unlikely that I’ll be going to work tomorrow. I’ll take some leave I think rather than try to get there, not knowing if I’d make it or not. Perhaps there’ll be trains running, but I wouldn’t trust them to stay running to get me home at the end of the day, so I’d rather take leave and not have to stress about travelling or risk getting stranded.