On Friday we were snowed in.
We were seriously snowed in.
There were severe weather warnings and people who lived here but who were currently outside the Forest were being told not to drive home under any circumstances. It was bad. 10 inches of snow outside our back door alone. It was so bad that they were thinking of sending out some gritter lorries.
Cars were stuck on the road leading up to Monmouth from our house, unable to move because the ice wouldn't let the wheels do anything other than spin.
One car was stuck immediately outside our house. The driver looked at a loss as to what to do, and didn't appear to be making any phonecalls, or showing that he had a way forward.
Being a friendly sort of neighbourhood, people were looking on, wondering if maybe they should offer some help. No-one was actually doing anything you understand. But they were looking at him.
Being a brave sort, I decided to take the plunge.
I approached the driver of the car and asked if he needed to use the phone. He didn't. He was trying to get to Chepstow, and asked me if I thought that the road that links from here to the main road to Chepstow would be ok.
The road in question is a country road, which would not have been gritted and was probably, by the time in question, (3.30 p.m.) pure ice.
I suggested that it probably wasn't the best road to take. By this time a few other people had also ventured forward and were offering suggestions involving sticking to main roads, taking long detours to avoid the snow logged Forest of Dean roads, or leaving his car overnight in the village.
He looked at us.
Now do bear in mind you can't be a local in the Forest of Dean until you have four generations dead in the grave. Or is it five? You can't "become" a Forester, you have to be born a Forester. Conversion courses, immigration procedures, or citizenship exams just aren't available. However, as I have lived here for almost eight years, and as this is my longest stay anywhere throughout my entire life, I do feel a sort of loyalty to what has become my home - even if they do not yet accept me as a local. Even if they don't until fifty years after my great great grandchildren are dead and buried. It's my home, and I have no other. So I can be loyal to it.
So when the man in the car from Chepstow said: "I've been told that you shouldn't leave your car around here overnight" I felt mortally wounded, seriously hurt and extremely righteous all at the same time.
I wanted to respond "Actually, did you know that the Forest of Dean has one of the lowest crimes rates in the country and you would probably be safer leaving your car here overnight than virtually anywhere else in the world, the universe, in infinity and beyond. And actually, that is one of the things I love about living here."
I didn't of course, but I wanted to.
7 months ago