The County Council snowdozer/gritter came today. (I expect, like everyone else looking at the Long Mountain from a distance, they've waited until they thought they could get down our lane. Bless.) Still it was a cheery sight; the driver and his mate, hi-vis-vested and snug in a comfy wagon, tootling along discussing this and that, while their vehicle dispensed liberally what is probably the last of the nation's grit and salt.
I imagine the mid-morning scene in the Powys Highways Depot canteen went something like this:
Lads are drinking tea, one eye on Daily Star and other eye on clock and End of Shift. Door opens and manager-type person walks in with job sheet on which there are a lot of ticks and one empty box.
'Dai and Idris, job for you.'
Lads are immobilised by the thought and sit like statues at the prospect of turning out to be of public service. Dai, or Idris, peers mournfully into his mug. Only a mush of unstirred sugar remains.
'It's a lane on the top, only one we've not done, not been cleared, see. Innit. Better get up there quick or the boss's bonus'll be... and we'll be....' and his voice trails off feebly at the prospect of retribution for not ticking a box. (It will help if you imagine a hint of a Welsh accent - failing that Brummie will do. Do not question use of word 'innit' either. It happens.)
Dai and Idris shuffle to their feet and pat their pockets for life's essentials: mobile, cigs and lighter. There's a short delay while the keys to the gritter, which has been fitted with a bull dozer, are found. (After everybody's pockets have been turned out they are found on the hook where they should be - but nobody ever thinks of looking there do they? Anyway, better late than never eh? - and it is a nice day to be out. Our manager-type-person goes back to his porta-cabin to sit with pen poised over the unticked box.
It turns out that the roads are clear so it's simply a case of, well, driving there, driving back and ticking that box. Job done. They give us a merry wave as we stop to let them pass on the lane on their return. Grit sprinkles in their wake. We notice that something has chewed up the edges of our lane - which has not been impassable throughout this wintry spell anyway - and that something large has redistributed a quantity of gravel outside our gate. Their activities have merely churned up a load of slushy mud but we'll take it in good heart.
Meanwhile the thaw continues.