Tales from the frozen front
Five days of the white stuff brought as many cheers as jeers. 'The Independent' heard ordinary people's tales of an extraordinary week
Saturday 07 February 2009
The Worker: London
Adam Bosman, a television producer, spent Monday building a 10ft igloo in Battersea Park.
He said: "When we started out we had no idea what we were doing and didn't get very far. Then I remembered reading that Eskimos build igloos using chunks of ice cut with a knife. So we fetched some bread knives from home and used the bodies of snowmen to create ice bricks. The first 2ft took more than three hours to build. When we finally finished we spent the evening inside the igloo, with a bottle of whiskey, a guitar and a curry. It was bloody freezing. None of us decided to stay the night there which was probably a good thing as by the next morning the igloo had collapsed."
The Students: Swindon
Fifty pupils who went on strike because their school in Wiltshire stayed open during snowfall have been suspended from lessons until next week.
The students – aged 15 and 16 – refused to come back in from the playing field after morning break at Nova Hreod School, in Swindon, and insisted on continuing with their wintry games.
Julie Tridgell, the school's headteacher, said the pupils were using the strike as an excuse for bad behaviour. "They refused to come in so I had to take a tough line," she said. "Students must understand they cannot behave like that.
"It was a difficult day on Wednesday but the school is focused on improvement and rewarding those young people who come into school and do the right thing day after day." The "ringleaders" of the strike may be excluded for longer, she added.
But Joanne Stevenson, a parent, said she was angry her daughter Victoria, 15, had been sent home. She said: "They should have given them a warning first. You need to set borders for the kids but it should have been detention first."
Same place, but it's a different kind of H2O
Surrounded by pristine snow, the scene at Tewkesbury Abbey yesterday was a far cry from the muddy waters that encircled the 11th-century building during the floods of 2007.
But, much like during the floods, the abbey remained open yesterday despite the weather which has brought chaos to other parts of Britain. Canon Paul Williams said: "We didn't close during the floods so we aren't going to let a bit of snow stop us. It's the same for most businesses in the village: Tewkesbury is still very much open for business.
"I suppose the circumstances are quite similar because we are surrounded by something brought upon us by the weather. But there are differences; it's much nicer this way because the snow makes the abbey look particularly beautiful.
"Also we are safe in the knowledge that we know this is going to melt. With the floods we didn't know when the water was going to go away. Also we know that there won't be any loss of life this time and people aren't going to be driven from their homes."
It is 220 million years since the seas which once covered Britain began to evaporate leaving behind them the thick layers of rock salt. And for 160 years, men have descended into the 180 miles of cavernous tunnels under Winsford, Cheshire, to retrieve the deposits now keeping Britain moving.
Steve Reece, 48, right, a veteran of 14 winters underground and chief mining engineer for Salt Union Ltd, which supplies 60 per cent of the entire rock salt consumed by British icy roads, said the 80-strong workforce had been flat out around the clock to meet the demand. "It is a very big cavernous place though it is only 200m deep," he said. "There are some very big tunnels."
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