The Winter That Won’t End

I wouldn’t normally blog about the weather. Even by my standards, it doesn’t get much mundaner than that. How old and farty can you get?

Today, though, I feel compelled to remark on the winter we’re having. I can’t recall a winter in Amsterdam that was this cold and during which snow fell on so many separate occasions.

Not only has the temperature seldom crept above zero since early December — it’s -3°C as I write this — but snow is an almost weekly occurrence. That may not sound very impressive if you live in a part of the world used to cold winters, but it’s quite unusual here. Here, an entire winter can pass without a single snowflake falling. We don’t usually get many days under zero, either, never mind the -10°C we’ve felt this winter.

The children love it, of course, but biking Eloïse to school through the snow is getting tedious, particularly on days that it has melted and refrozen. There are few things more treacherous than frozen slush. I’ve had a few skids this winter, but haven’t yet fallen off. Touch wood.

Our car hasn’t been so lucky. There was an occasion in mid-December that I had to take the car out and it happened to be the morning after the first snowfall. At the forefront of my mind was the thought that I should drive cautiously and deliberately. Applying such commendably wise circumspection, I pulled away, drove slowly around the corner and skidded out of the first bend, barely 100m from our house. I trashed a bike rack, but somehow managed to spare the bikes parked in it.

As I got out to inspect the damage to the car, I nearly fell on my arse. As I regained my footing and rose above the level of the car door, a cyclist who had passed me was now lying in the road, having fallen off her bike. It was really, really slippery.

Anyway, I had managed to catch that bike rack really unfortunately and one of the curved, steel wheel holders had punctured the front of the car body. I feared that this had caused more damage than was immediately obvious and it soon turned out that I wasn’t wrong. Once on the motorway, it became apparent that the adaptive cruise control no longer worked. More specifically, the radar could no longer detect cars in front of mine, causing my car to try to accelerate through the vehicles in front of me as if they weren’t there.

The only positive element to this story, if you can call it that, is that I managed to prang the car so soon after the very first snowfall. This meant that I was able to book the car in for repair in late January.

Since that day, snow has fallen many times and there have been a huge number of accidents across the country. We’re not used to this kind of weather, you see. If I were to prang the car today, it wouldn’t be up for repair until April.

The damage also had the unfortunate consequence of short-circuiting some part of the car’s electrical system, which caused its battery to completely drain within a few days. I had to drive it every few days, just to keep the battery alive.

On precisely the day that I had to take the car to the garage to be repaired, the battery was stone dead and I had to make use of my Audi mobility guarantee to call a mechanic out to come and start it for me with jumper leads.

The car is repaired now and I’m several grand worse off, but at least no-one was hurt in the accident. The battery also no longer drains, which the garage thought was unrelated to the damage I’d incurred, but in view of the fact that the problem hasn’t reoccurred since they fixed the adaptive cruise control, it must have been related.

Last night, snow fell yet again and, proving Sod’s Law, today was, of course, another day that I had to drive. The car had to go to the garage again, this time for periodic service and to undergo its first APK, which is akin to the British MOT, in other words a road worthiness test. New cars don’t have to have an APK until they’re four years old, so this is our first.

I made it there in one piece, but I’ve already seen a couple of accidents today. And as I write this sentence, it’s starting to snow again outside my window.

The snow certainly is beautiful and bestows on the world outside a pristine quality otherwise sadly lacking, but I’ve had enough of it now. I’m ready for the spring.

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