The news that record breaking freezing Artic weather including snowstorms, is gripping the USA and even threatening southern areas including Florida, is concerning. The weather which has brought much of the US to a standstill with thousands of flights cancelled, schools closed and roads made impassable, could well cause equal chaos here when it arrives.
It would be wise to start making ready and bracing ourselves for when the cold blast hits our shores, which it inevitably will within two to three weeks.
Oil tanks need topping up, wood stocks replenished and winter thermals put ready. Snow tyres may be required, and the elderly and vulnerable checked once the freezing weather arrives.
Let us hope for the sake of our crops, which are already struggling to cope with either flooded or water logged fields, that we shall at least have a moderate covering of snow to protect them from the sub-zero temperatures.
Most farmers will I believe, have said a silent prayer at the turn of midnight on New Year’s Eve, that this year ambient weather rather than the extremes we have been coping with over the past few years, would be welcomes. It would appear that so far no one was listening.
I suppose we should remember that the United Kingdom is an island on the edge of the vast Atlantic Ocean. We are susceptible to minor changes of the tides and moon, as well as the second hand weather which the United States sends our way.
Such un-seasonal weather has faced generations of British farmers over centuries, so it little becomes me to make a fuss but ‘oh for an easy life’, with the right kind of weather in all the right seasons!
The farming community will as always be prepared and willing to help with snow clearing and backing up local authorities to keep vital thoroughfares and runways open. They will also help to ferry individuals to hospital appointments and collect prescriptions for those unable to get out.
Extreme conditions are always a challenge but the British are known for their resilience and ability to cope, and on the whole their determination not to complain.
Amongst the many end of year tributes to those who died in 2013, one of the best was a tribute to Baroness Thatcher by Melissa Kite. Herself a shopkeeper’s daughter, she noted Lady Thatcher’s qualities as “all that is best about our Nation, and about our politics”. She said “Her legacy stands as a shining example, not only to citizens who aspire through our own endeavours, but also to politicians who aspire to represent those people.”
Miss Kite went on to remind us that when Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher never took the easy route to be popular. “She unleashed a spirit of enterprise which had remarkable consequences upon the fortunes of the Nation. She led from the front, and believed in the right of the individual to determine their own destiny.”
“Not everyone agreed with her, but you knew where you stood, and she stood for individual freedom and free enterprise,” reflected Miss Kite.
Could it be that some of those travelling to the UK from Bulgaria and Romania who we hear when asked about British politics can name only Mrs Thatcher, still believe the UK stands for free enterprise and hard work? Or have they like far too many British citizens, come to sponge off the welfare state? I suspect the jury is out on this for now.
There has happily been some very good news reported recently for those living in our towns and cities. For as long as I can remember it has been said that city dwellers are never further than 6 feet from a rat. Those who live in our cities can at last relax knowing that there are in fact only a mere 3.1 million rats running around, and typically each city dweller is in fact no closer than 164 feet from a rat. What a huge relief and comfort that must be!
Happy New Year
Carola Godman Irvine