Thursday, August 18, 2011


The snow is falling at sea level here in Wellington.  According to the news reports (when the internet is working) this is either a completely unique event or a once in thirty years kind of thing.  Lovely.  Here is my favourite video: Snow in Cuba Mall.  The electricity flickered in and out on Monday night and we had no internet so it felt as though we were trifling with disaster (the excitement anyway) without any actual discomfit.  We put a battery powered nightlight in our daughter's room (she isn't fond of the dark) and pulled out the torches.  We have heaps of candles and matches - I remember my parents telling me that you need more candles than you think!  We also realised that we had sold the gas heater - so had no heating source if the power went out.  Poo.

It got me thinking about managing through a power cut with children.  Now, those in the South Island and particularly those in Christchurch are used to this, and I in no way wish to belittle their experiences.  Great snows happen quite regularly down south, and I tend to find that everyone just gets on with it and copes.  After all, this is what happens in winter!  A legacy of living in Dunedin is taking a proper jacket everywhere!  You always assume that it will be horribly cold!

I've checked the emergency supplies, and I'll be looking into a battery powered heater later on. But I did check my emergency entertainment bag hidden away upstairs.  This is the bag that I pull out on rainy days/ toxic days or for emergency presents.  We are well stocked with spare books, bubbles and activities at the moment.

For the little one the main thing is nappies and wipes.  We have one spare pack of nappies in the emergency kit, and a couple of packs of wipes.  We tend not to let supplies get too low of these things!

But getting trapped in the car while still in my neighbourhood the other day really threw me.  There was a very sudden hailstorm as we left Junglerama, the local indoor playland.  As we left the building it started to rain, it then started hailing, and by the time we got to the car the hail was as big as peas.  I told my four year old to get in quickly, ran around to put the baby in her seat, then ran back around to belt in the four year old.

About two minutes after the hail started the ground was completely covered.  I really wondered if I should wait a minute to leave, but then decided that we were close to home so it should be OK.  Also, in hindsight, I'd never known hail to last more than a few minutes - so figured it would melt quickly.

It didn't melt quickly.  It hailed a bit more then eased to just 'light hail.'  As I gingerly went through the intersection nearest Junglerama I realised that the tyres were not responding.  I managed to get through the corner and make it along the next street when I got to what is usually a very busy intersection.  I stopped and noticed that a van was drifting back down the hill towards our car.  Fortunately for both of us a built up bit of footpath stopped him from sliding into us.  I got across the intersection, up a hill and then realised that there was a steep drop ahead of me.  I saw cars slipping as they approached the hill, so put on my hazard lights and pulled over.  I figured that the ice would soon disappear and that I should just wait until I felt better driving down.

A car braves the hill

I could see cars skating a bit on the hill and it was mainly four wheel drives trying it.  A taxi pulled up, and the driver, with some kind of foreign accent reminding me of sunnier climates wound down his window and told me that he was nervous to go down.  Given the shape and size of his taxi I advised against it.  There was a couple of centimetres of ice on the road and I just didn't know how you were supposed to drive in ice - snow I kind of get but the road was like an ice rink.  I sent out a text letting my husband know what was happening - he was on a bus and said that he would come to us.  People in the street were slipping over so I have no idea how he was going to make it up to us.  It occurred to me that we might need to leave the car and walk home.  I had the pram and my oldest daughter was fairly warmly dressed.  I was warmly dressed but not in waterproof clothes or shoes.  The girls and I had a cuddle in the front seat to keep warm, and I rifled through the boot for a blanket and extra coat. 

Quite a decision - set out on foot - knowing that the footpath was covered in ice and it would be very slippery and cold - or stay with the car and hope that it would get better?  It was starting to get dark, and the ice showed no sign of melting.  Another twenty minutes passed and I got a text from a friend who had left Junglerama at the same time, in a different direction.  She said that it was raining and the ice wasn't so much of a problem where she was.  I waited another ten minutes and some more rain arrived.  There was a tiny bit more hail, but mainly rain.  It was getting fairly dark.  I texted

Ordinarily I would not have had a blanket or the pram in the car - they were there from teaching earlier in the day.  Save a couple of bottles of water, I had no emergency supplies in the car.  The idea of getting trapped in the car so close to home still seems laughable.  But it was a timely reminder that the elaborate emergency kit that I have at home is only of use if you are at home.  A car emergency kit is in production as we speak.

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