Last winter when we were here, a blizzard struck the day we arrived. Gradually, as the supply of logs and oil for heating dwindled and the water supply froze resulting in our collecting it from the stream outside, our resolve and sense of fun also started to diminish. Put it down to advancing years: in my twenties or thirties I would have considered it to be ‘quite a laugh’. Not so these days – I could cope with the water and lack of central heating but I am not so good when the wood burner isn’t blazing away. However, we saw Snowdonia last year as few visitors do; a snow covered landscape with more falling so thickly that it was difficult to see, when out walking, where either my partner – or more importantly She-dog – was even though they were just yards ahead of me.
This year it was different, we left home with the (as it turned out, innacurate) knowledge that we were driving into blizzards and we hoped that we would reach our destination before being marooned, despite having to travel over two high passes and up a track steep enough to make a mountain goat think twice before tackling it. This time we came prepared with a vast amount of food and with three times the amount of warm clothing that any two people could wear over an entire winter. As we reached the town of Shrewsbury the forecast rain began to fall; it would only be a matter of time as we entered Wales and gradually climbed in height that it would change to snow. The rain grew steadily heavier and the road ever steeper until we reached the first summit and, surprise, there was not a hint of whiteness anywhere. The second pass, higher still, was similar although the surrounding peaks did have a dusting of snow. We reached our destination with the rain still falling and the temperature ever rising – it was now fifteen degrees warmer than when we had left home in the Cotswolds, further south and many hundreds of feet lower.
The next morning we woke to sunshine, having no guilt about not getting out of bed in darkness at some ridiculously early hour as every other day of our lives. Looking out of the bedroom window, the surrounding mountains still wore their apology of snow – it was a scene from the end of March or even April. The calls from concerned Cotswold friends telephoning (we still have one piece of technology that works here) to confirm our safe arrival quickly turned to irritation when they discovered we were fine and they were blanketed in five inches of overnight snowfall. It was hardly our fault that they had to work twice as hard at looking after our chickens and horses in our absence and, it seems, my suggestion that carrying buckets of unfrozen drinking water out into the fields was a good daily exercise did not help.