It started snowing on Wednesday the 8th as ordinary winter weather. But by the next morning the snow was quite deep in the lane outside my home, and my toes got quite cold as I took my dog Fido for his walk. I was wearing my Wellies. It snowed throughout the day and the following night and on Friday aunty Olive phoned to say she could not drive out of her cottage in Bramerton. The main road to Norwich was still open and I spent the day at work. I lit the fire in the evening. I watched Porridge on the telly and all seemed snug enough. On Friday the snow was deep and crisp if not very even.
On Saturday morning my next door neighbour Mrs Matthews had made me a sausage roll and an apple pie. This severe weather extends as far as the Channel Islands because my sister phoned me from Guernsey where her water pipes had frozen up. On Sunday I was able to drive to Bramerton to have lunch and tea with aunty Olive. I could not go up the long drive to her cottage but walked the last bit with the dog. I walked Fido down to the river. Aunt Olive had run out of coal but we kept warm with the electric radiator. Back at home I lit the fire and had a nightcap of Ovaltine before going to bed.
On Monday there was a further slight fall of snow. I went up to Norwich to clear the snow from our car park before the optician Mr Williams arrived to see his first patient. For lunch I had a warming steak and kidney pie at the Coach and Horses in Red Lion Street. In the evening I practised my guitar.
Tuesday was the 14th, my 29th birthday. On my 30th birthday the snow was much worse.
Wednesday FEBRUARY 14th 1979
I awoke to heavy drifting snow. It was slow driving into work on account of the snow holding up the traffic; there was a tailback from Arminghall all the way into Norwich. I spent the morning working and had arranged to go out to Bramerton to have my birthday lunch with Aunty Olive. I nearly skidded into the gatepost on leaving the yard and had to follow a tractor that was clearing snow drifts on the way to Bramerton. My Aunt had prepared a good spread of chicken despite a power cut; the power was still off when I arrived. It was still windy but the sun was shining on the snow as I took the dog down to the river. I went back to Norwich for the afternoon and then home.
The next day I awoke to find an absurd amount of snow. It was halfway up my bedroom window because it had been falling and drifting all night. There was very little traffic about and what little there was crawled past at a snail’s pace, so the dog was able to go off the lead for his morning walk.
In spite of the cold I was still heating the greenhouse, so I had to refill the paraffin heater. I had to dig the snow off the drive before I could attempt the journey to Norwich, but the milk and the papers had arrived before I left. Actually it was much quicker than yesterday; no tailbacks because nearly everybody had stayed at home. I was fortunate that a snow plough had recently cleared the road, but I still had to charge my way through a few snowdrifts. At the Crown Point Tavern in Trowse people were being turned back to Norwich by the police! When I got to work I heard that Yarmouth was cut off, even from Caister, but somehow the post had got through to me in Norwich, so there were some orders for me to deal with.
After a lunch of fish and chips in a not-quite deserted city I was able to let the dog run free again, down Bracondale to Carrow Bridge. In normal times we would have been run over immediately, but not today. The river was flooded and great sheets of dirty snow covered the icy water.
The only shop open in St Stephens was Sainsburys, and they were short staffed, so it was a long queue to pay for my food (I need to stock up as I expected to have to spend the night in the city). That evening I had quite a few pints at the Coach and Horses and then took Fido all through the centre of the city, free to roam. The streets were deserted and we went along Back of the Inns and London Street. The lights were on and the snow made it as bright as day. I curled up in the office, covering myself with sacks. Fido was happy once he had found a sack to curl up on by my feet.
The next day there was little fresh snow and by the evening I was able to drive home. There were lots of abandoned cars in the snowdrifts however, and Graham next door told me he had to walk home from the night shift at Jarrold’s printing office; he went through the fields which were safer than the roads. Aunty Olive had phoned me to say she still couldn’t get out of the house so I said I would do her shopping and get it to her somehow.
On Saturday a slight thaw produced some monster icicles. Most of the minor roads round here are blocked by drifts two or three feet deep. I filled up the paraffin heater in the greenhouse again and took the dog for a long walk through Framingham Earl. There were lots people about with children, who were madly happy at rushing into the snowdrifts. A contraption of a snow plough and two tractors was slowly clearing the roads.
Sunday, it froze all day. I got dressed in my Eskimo woollen jumper (a 21st birthday present from my Canadian sister) and leather jerkin and put my rucksack on with Aunty’s shopping. Fido and I left at 11 and it took us 35 minutes to get to the Feathers in Framingham Pigot. Then we took the footpath to the Stracey Arms in Kirby. There were lots of animal footprints in the snow. The road from Kirby to Bramerto was blocked by drifts, and after getting stuck in one I took to the bank. I got Aunt Olive’s at 12.25 and she had a beef pudding on the go. She was pleased with the vegetables I had brought which she put on the stove. Also gooseberry crumble. After we had eaten I went up into her loft and scooped up a couple of bags of snow which had blown in under her tiles.
Fido would love an outdoor life with me, roaming the countryside. We set off for home at quarter past three and got home by half past four. He was tired in the evening but not too tired to enjoy another walk.