Like most English people, I love the snow. But it is a conditional love, and those conditions are a) I am in a foreign country b) I have a pair of skis on my feet and c) I have access to a lovely cup of seriously thick and calorific hot chocolate.
Snow in England is not so much fun. We are not equipped for snow - never have been, never will be. But despite everything from the buses, trains, traffic, post services and rubbish collections grinding to a halt, to the schools closing, the first day of snow is a novelty. In addition to the picturesque new landscape, there are so many things to take in, like the anxious expressions on dogs faces when they can't work out where their feet went, or the screams of delight and pain resounding from children when they realise that there are no rules in a snowball fight or the complete absense of cats (hurrah!).
Once the snow stops, the novelty instantly wears off. What was yesterday's soft fluffy snow is now trampled in to hard-packed ice or has become slushy enough to lose small dogs in. Added to that, I live at the top of a rather steep hill which makes it a tad tricky for walking in to town (looking on the bright side, I will never have to put in an insurance claim for flooding).
So today I set off down the hill, looking for hand holds along the way and not finding any, and picked my way delicately from one slushy patch to another to get to the top of the steps leading down to the church. Realising that my walking shoes had no grip whatsoever, I managed to navigate the steps by using all of my upper body strength to cling to the handrail, trying to make it look effortless (which it would have if it weren't for all of the grunts and cursing under my breath).
The last hurdle was the slope by the church wall which didn't look too bad until I realised that the clear patches of ground were actually black ice. I discovered this when I tried to walk normally, stepped on to a 'clear patch' and started to slide, and when I tried to recover, my legs started to go in different directions. First they went one way, then the other and soon it became clear to me that if I wanted to put a stop to my impersonation of Bambi I needed to change my approach to tackling this hill. So I held on to the hand-rail (thank heaven for the hand-rail) and with the words of my mother ringing in my ears ("DON'T slide on the pavement - you'll only make it dangerous for the old ladies") I slid.
I wish I could say that it had been a graceful descent. One which, if viewed from the other side of the wall looked as though I had been standing on an escalator. But it wasn't. I was bent double with my legs in the 'snowplough' position and I was wearing a grimace on my face similar to that of someone with acute abdominal pains. But beyond the fact that I stayed upright, I'm not proud.
The funny thing was when I left the supermarket, a man overtook me on the (indoor) travelator, slid, slipped and stumbled, tried to walk normally and slipped again. Saving face, he then ran a few paces to get up some speed and slid right to the very end as though his previous slips had been completely intentional. Good recovery. I wish I'd thought of that one.
As a final thought, and I know this is mean, but I would love to have watched a dog come down that hill.