Monday, 2 February 2009

Major snow event

So the snow has finally reached Nappy Valley - the worst since 1992, they say. (I seem to remember that as the year my Dad got the car stuck in a snow drift in Suffolk - he retrieved it two days later, to find that someone had nicked the cigarette lighter, but nothing else..).

We woke up to dire reports of a 'major snow event' on Radio 4. (Obviously, it can't just be called a heavy snowfall any more, just as a recession has to be a 'credit crunch', banks have to be 'toxic', and government departments 'not fit for purpose'.) No buses running in London. Schools closed. Utter chaos. There could be (deep breath) 15 cm of snow.. In the midst of this desperate natural disaster, The Doctor managed to take the tube to work, and rang me to report that he'd arrived ten minutes early.......

I decided to take the Littleboys up to Clapham Common to make a snowman, having managed to scrape enough snow off the car to heave the double buggy out of the boot. Ploughing it along the streets in several inches of the white stuff was at least a good workout: a few hours later and I feel as if I've been cross country skiing.

The Common was heaving, and looked a little like a Lowry painting with hundreds of coat-clad figures milling about on a pale background. As the Littleboys gleefully built their snowman, accesorising him with Mummy's hat, I took in the unfamiliar scene.

Round here, there are two fairly dominant tribes - the twentysomething professionals, many of them antipodean, and the middle class Nappy Valley families - and clearly, no-one from either group had gone to work. There was a festive atmosphere; it wasn't so much children throwing snowballs, as crowds of twenty and thirtysomething Aussies and Kiwis running around pelting each other, building six foot high snowmen and piling into the local cafes to drink steaming lattes. Meanwhile, for the Nappy Valley types, it was as if the half term ski trip had come early. Whole families were parading around in their Killy and Helly Hansen gear; at least one family were actually on skis. The cafe on the Common, which has always slightly reminded me of a mountainside ski cafe, with its tiled floor, rickety chairs and canteen style service, was heaving with people drinking hot chocolate and braying as if they were in Meribel.

It was also far too busy to get a seat, so I told Littleboys that they would have to go without their usual pitstop. This did not go down well. Then it started snowing again. And I found myself in a blizzard, in the middle of the Common, with two cold boys and a snow-caked buggy. We charged back towards the high street, the previously fluffy snowflakes suddenly sharp on our faces.

As we emerged from our polar expedition into the relative sanctuary of another cafe, I struggled to heave the pram through the door. Both boys were also wailing by this point. As per usual, not one person attempted to help; they were all too busy making the most of their day off with their chocolat chaud and (quite possibly) their piste maps. The place was also packed out for a Monday morning; well, it's good to know that someone's profiting from the major snow event. Defeated, I turned to go and brave the Arctic conditions again.

But help sometimes comes from the unlikeliest of quarters. It was a twenty something Aussie girl who came to our rescue, and let us share her table. "I know what it's like," she explained. "I look after my little nephew sometimes."

Talk about the kindness of strangers.....

18 comments:

Dumdad said...

Yes, what is it with this "major snow event"?! I heard it on the Today programme on Radio 4 (you can take the boy out of England but you can't take England out of the boy).

You've had it much worse than us over here; the snow has melted quite a lot now and it should be okay to drive daughter to ballet this evening.

Mom/Mum said...

Wow sounds like little bit of Michigan has come to England. maybe you could benefit from our snow ploughs though....

The Dotterel said...

Kindness to a push-chair pusher - that deserves some recongition, and it's rarer than a 'major snow event'!

Home Office Mum said...

Well it sounds nice (except for the freezing faces and whinging children bit - I had that bit without any of the rest). But at least you got to make a snowman. My children took one look at the snow, pronounced it cold and asked to watch CBeebies. Being from the southern Hemisphere myself, I would have been there with the antipodean bunch but my children were thoroughly bored of all the white stuff. Sigh

A Modern Mother said...

Those Aussies can be really nice.

I think we were the only school in England that didn't have a snow day.

Got up early to make a snowman, then slid down to school with the girls

Very fun.

More on its way...

Bush Mummy said...

Yes Mini walked all the way to the park, took one look at all the people and had a complete melt down (scuse the pun).

Love the parallels to Meribel. Do you think the people with their piste map attempted the black run of Battersea Rise?

BM x

Iota said...

"...drinking hot chocolate and braying" - you should get a job in marketing for the ski industry, you make it sound so attractive in Meribel (but I love your writing).

Expat mum said...

The Ball & Chain landed at Heathrow this morning and was disgusted to find no tubes or trains running. I know I've been away a while, but since when did London become that soft!

Google Mummy said...

a great effort by you with two little ones! Google Baby and I made it to the top of the road, checked out the giant snowmen and pitied the little ones, and slid all the way home. Still love the snow!

nappy valley girl said...

Dumdad - Radio 4 now seems to have stopped this catchphrase after lots of listeners complained!

Mom/Mum - yes, apparently they don't think it is worth having snow ploughs as we would need them so rarely. Hence everything comes to a standstill...

The Dottorel - too right. It deserves some kind of humanitarian award.

Home Office Mum - don't worry, my kids are bored of it now too. Littleboy 1 took one look at the snow this morning and said 'we don't go out in the snow'....

AModern - well, the boys' nursery is still closed today - and all the tubes and buses are now running. Sadly I am supposed to be working....

Bush Mummy - Very possibly. And the couloirs off Lavender Hill!

Iota - Thanks, you're very kind. Believe it or not, I do actually like skiing.! But there is a particular braying that you hear in certain resorts.....I've never holidayed in Meribel itself but we once skied through it from Courchevel and it was full of very loud, Sloaney British....

Expat Mum - well as ever with this country, it's all down to money. They've decided it's not worth investing in gritters, snow ploughs etc because snow like this doesn't happen very often. Boris Johnson & Co say it was 'the right kind of snow, just the wrong kind of quantity'. Which I think is a pretty pathetic excuse....

Google Mummy -yes, there weren't many people out with two toddlers. But it was better than having them at home all day going crazy and destroying the house. And they slept well last night.

Mud in the City said...

There was snowboarding in Battersea Park yesterday too!

So lovely to see so many families out having a blast too - for loads of (non-Meribel going) London children this must be their 1st proper snow!

Mud in the City said...

Award for you at mine as well! Pop over and pick it up.
x

Red Rum said...

Hi Nappy Valley Girl, have been meaning to announce my reading presence for a while - I like your style a lot and fascinated by your dilemma re despising/secretly wanting to be a minted mummy. But take heart - I didn't even make it into the west London postcards when I lived in London! I will be back! RR x

Red Rum said...

OH DEAR - I meant postCODES - sorry.

nappy valley girl said...

Mud - yes - it was my kids' first snow that they can rememnber, although we're going skiing next month, so they'll probably be sick of it soon....

Red Rum - postcards, postcodes, I knew what you meant! Thanks for your comments (and as for being a minted mummy, I fear I still have some way to go on that front...)

Wife in Hong Kong said...

According to my mum it was much worse in 1947 and everyone did make it into school or work where there was no heating but a great We'll manage! attitude. Have we gone soft?

Mothership said...

I am very comforted by your tale of the kindess of strangers.
I'm amazed at how often grown men rush ahead of me and my two in the stroller to get to the door at Starbucks specifically in order to let it slam in our faces. And they say chivalry's not dead..
Loving the blog. I'll be back

nappy valley girl said...

Wife in HK - I think it is more a case of health and safety gone mad. Everyone now is so frightened of contravening health and safety regulations that they jsimply shut down. Hence no London buses ran for the first time ever....

Mothership - it is amazing, isn't it. Somehow I think you are invisible to some people when you're pushing a buggy....