Saturday, January 19, 2013

Everybody stop! We're on a Go-Snow

Families skating on the pond in our Zeeland village last year
Last Monday night it snowed. The result of this smattering of fluffy white stuff was that since Tuesday the Netherlands has been in complete chaos. Okay, maybe smattering is a slight understatement, but it truly wasn't all that much. A couple of centimetres at the most.

Nonetheless, the trains have been running at half their normal capacity all week, and the buses have only been running half of half of that. There I've been every morning at the bus stop, stamping my feet to keep the blood circulating all the way to my toes and watching that blessed digital board announce the advent of numerous buses I might have taken had they simply turned up. It's actually been quite an adventure in transportation...I've been publicly transported to places even Dr Spock of Startrek fame would have found surprising.  Seriously, though, what's happened is that I've ended up jumping on any bus that looked as if it was going in vaguely the right direction, so I've seen parts of the city I never knew existed. Quite enlightening in some ways.

Still, at least I have managed to get to work, and was only a few minutes late just one day this week. Many of my colleagues have just given up the fight and gone home - although I have to say these are mostly folk who come by car. One of them told me it took her three and a half hours to drive three kilometres. Makes you wonder why she didn't just get out and walk. She might have got somewhere instead of looking wistfully at the queue of lights in front of her.

Anyhow, this is condition normal every year. We get a few grains of snow and the world comes to a grinding halt. I just don't understand it. I mean it's not as if snow is so unusual. We've certainly had a spell of it every year since I've been here.

It always makes me laugh because the locals are very keen to tell me me we don't really have winter in NL. Then they act all surprised when year after year, the temperature plummets in January and the white blanket descends. The thing is, folks, it does happen. Every year! Not for long, I grant you. Probably no more than a couple of weeks, but surprise surprise, it's not a rare occasion. So why does everything go belly up and totally haywire? And why are the train services and buses not prepared the way they are in other cold countries? My Russian and Polish friends here think it's hysterical and are totally bemused by the chaos that ensues after our annual 'episnowed'.

A smattering of snow creates its own hazards on board

But forget the adventures in transport for a moment. The fun part of this for me is negotiating the boat. If you have a look at the few pics I've posted here, you'll notice it's no small endeavour getting on and off in this kind of weather. It's like crossing the great divide where the risk of slithering off into the icy depths of the harbour becomes the daily challenge. Maybe that's why I'm a bit bemused by all the other fuss. When you have this as your daily yardstick, all the rest seems a bit paltry...doesn't it?

No snow here, but when it's cold, the east wind causes very low tides.
At these times the plank doesn't even reach the deck


  1. Stay warm, Val, in your watery home!

  2. I wish California had snow. But since you actually do have snow, stay warm!

  3. Lol Val - exactly the same happens here! Complete and utter chaos, schools close, people stay off work, councils run out of grit. How lovely that you look on it as an adventure. Wouldn't it be easier if you had a handrail on your gangplank? You wouldn't want to negotiate that if you'd had a tipple or two! Take care xxxx

  4. Hi Val .. your snow is often worse than ours .. but we don't seem to be able to cope so well now-a-days ...

    Still great informative post .. love the fact that you took the bus and let it lead you to new places to see ... no doubt better in the Spring.

    It's obviously cold enough to skate - but perhaps not along all the canals ... I sincerely hope it doesn't get that cold this year!

    Cheers Hilary

  5. Thanks Jo! Bring some of that lovely Laos warmth over here when you come back!

    Gina, thanks for visiting! I had a look at your blog too. Thanks for the link.

    Fran, you are right about drinking and the risk of dunking! It's not something you do, or if you do, you don't go Hugs winging their way to you too!

    Hilary, they are skating on the canals in the north! As soon as the ice is thick enough, everyone gets their skates out. It's too lovely to see. That's definitely one of the highlights of winter for me.

  6. It's been similar here in the UK this week - including the traffic distruption. I'm hoping after the weekend things might improve. The snow does make Gloucestershire look pretty, but it makes getting to work a nightmare!

  7. Chris, thanks for 'dropping in'. I think we can all relate to the frustration of the traffic disruption, but in all seriousness, the UK has more excuse than NL. Hills, high hedges and minimal public transport in rural areas make things much more difficult for you. Here it is flat, there are ditches rather than hedges and the public transport is plentiful - well except when it snows, that is.

  8. I really thought the Netherlands would be prepared for snow I thought it was only in the UK that everything grinds to a halt. We've not had snow yet in Glasgow a few flakes fell this morning but that's all. Looks dangerous walking down that gangplank.

  9. And meanwhile, in the Great White North, two dumpings so far this winter, one that was substantial and stayed for a week before these crazy temperatures of 14C and 16C last weekend wiped it out. And two nights ago, a little teaser that is gone again after staying the night.

    This is second non-winter in a row so far. Whatever is happening, let it continue. I kind of life not having to wear all the gear.

  10. Oh goodness, Anne Marie, why are we getting it all now? Isn't that strange? Still, good to know you are enjoying your climate change. Thanks for dropping in, dear xx

  11. A white wonderland. Funny how the flow of life changes when it snows.
    So pretty though.

  12. Eep. Getting on and off the boat does not sound like fun.

    It always make me laugh that the Dutch are caught off guard by the arrival of snow. If only there was some kind of regular cycle of seasons that made it easier to predict when it might snow...

  13. Lovely pics! Doesn't everything look so much better under a blanket of snow! We have lots here - I'm sure I spotted a polar bear in the allotments! Or it could just be my eyesight....

  14. Lovely pics! Doesn't everything look so much better under a blanket of snow! We have lots here - I'm sure I spotted a polar bear in the allotments! Or it could just be my eyesight....

  15. I thought it was only the UK that went to pieces when the snow fell. Your snow does look colder than ours which has gone quite slushy and brown here now. Keep warm.

  16. Ha Ha, Val! I definitely had quite the guffaw when I saw your gankplank. Puts into perspective "walking the plank" - even a checkerplate plank!
    There is nothing like at least one snowfall per winter! I had always thought NL had winter, as I remember the story of Hans Brinker ... the Disney version, I think.
    I like what you call a "pond". To me that should be a regulation-sized lake. Whatever you call it, ice is ice, and it's fun to slide upon!
    Whee! xx

  17. Oh, and it's snowing as I type this. Another 6 inches upon the existing 2 feet ... :)


Apologies for switching on comment moderation, but this is to make sure everyone can comment without jumping through captcha hoops!

However, anonymous comments will not be published, so please would you sign your name. Even if you leave a nice, relevant comment, I won't publish it without a name.