You'll know by now that I'm not one to be easily defeated, and this situation was no exception, so after sitting a little despondently for a couple of minutes in the middle of the kitchen I got the long-handled broom from the kitchen cupboard. Brush in hand I left the house again, whizzing through the backyard and stopping just before I got stuck in the lane. I started to try to clear a path up the back lane with the brush, but I didn't get very far, and decided that I'd have to get the spade instead. I returned to the house once again, dumping my bag because I figured that I may be sometime on this mission I was on, got the spade, scooted back to the lane and set to work shovelling a path through the snow. I made slow progress clearing the bit of road in front of me like a snow plough, moving myself forward as I went, but progress it was, albeit hard work and hot work. Being the stubborn sort I was determined to get to the shops, even though this meant clearing a path through the snow for 200-300 meters. I did around 50 meters before my arms were aching from the weight of the shovel and I was getting a tad warm (not to mention a wee bit short of breath and tight-chested), so I sat back for a breather (aka wheeze), just as a car passed by the top of the lane along the lane that runs at right angles. A few minutes later, just after I'd got back to snow-clearing, the car reversed and a woman in the passenger seat asked if I was okay or if I needed any help. I said that I was okay, but if they had any time, even a few minutes of help would be great. The woman got out of the car and lit up a fag, the daughter who was about 10 started scraping away some of the snow with her welly-booted feet, and the dad got a shovel out of the car and set to clearing my path for me. He made much more rapid progress than I had been making, and although I'd been planning on joining in with snow-clearing, I couldn't get to the bit that needed doing as this lovely man was directly in front of me. The woman took my spade from me and with a half-hearted effort moved a bit of snow around in front of the man, then stood back, smoked more of her cigarette, and watched her husband build up a sweat as he worked hard clearing the snow. I decided that there really wasn't any point in having my shovel out as I could no longer get to where it was needed, and the woman obviously wasn't going to use it (although she was very nice, chatted, and was the one who had originally asked me if I was okay), so I took the spade back inside and picked up my keys and shopping bag again.
As I arrived back in the lane the lovely man was joined by the estate agent from up the road. She'd got her enormous snow shovel from her car and was helping clear the snow. They'd got to the junction of the two back lanes, and although some of the base snow was compacted into ice (though the top snow was still too soft and deep for me to pass), they pressed on valiantly. Sue, the estate agent, then had to go as she had an appointment to get to, so she went off and the lovely man was left on his own again ... but not for long, because within minutes two lads who I think were students, came dashing out of their upstairs flat, from where they'd seen me out of the window. They were both wearing jeans and t-shirt, but also both brandished big shovels and big smiles, and immediately got stuck into the snow-clearing activity. The lovely man must have been exhausted by this time, having cleared 150 meters or so of snow for me, and he'd been beginning to wilt, but he seemed to get a new burst of energy from the appearance of these jolly student-types. Between them they got to the end of the lane within minutes, and saw me up the dropped kerb (once they'd located it under the snow) and onto the pavement. The lovely man left. Thankfully the student-type lads turned round to check I was okay before they headed back inside, because I promptly got stuck in the snow on the pavement. The lads leaped back into action, and dug a path for me through to the council-cleared section of pavement. I was able to get on my way and go to the post office, but I am ever so ever so grateful to my good Samaritans.
It snowed again that night. Heavily. My escape route was covered over and once again impassable. Still, I'd made it out, posted what I'd needed to post, and got some milk. The snow couldn't go on forever, surely. Hmm, well it soon felt as though it was going on forever, and I was becoming unwell so would need to find a way out once again to get to the doctor. I didn't have the strength to start digging through another couple of feet of the white stuff, so I sat and I thought. And I thought and I sat. And I came up with the idea of phoning the council to see if they could help. The woman in the council offices was very kind, but also very apologetic - they wouldn't be able to help as they usually would because the snow was so bad that all their resources were being taken up by clearing the roads and making sure the main routes to the hospitals and the main shopping areas were snow-free. Oh. Okay. I understood, and it wasn't her fault so there was no point in getting frustrated with her. I decided I'd sit tight and see what happened over the next day or two, but what happened was that the sky continued to fall in and the pond life in my lungs were taking more of a hold. I really did have to get out and get to the doctor.
I'd left it the weekend to see how things were going to pan out, but by Monday evening I could feel things getting a fair bit worse, so somewhere around 6pm I emailed Greg Stone, my Lib Dem councillor. I explained my situation, I said that I understood that the council had to prioritise roads and main shopping areas, but that I'd much rather see my own GP as soon as possible than end up in yet another life-threatening situation. I also pointed out that I'm 36 and need to be able to live a life beyond the walls of my flat, and that there's no way I can spend the whole of the winter shut indoors if the snow is set to stay with us till then. Within an hour Mr Stone had rung me back, saying that he was concerned to hear about my situation and that he'd get straight onto the case. At 8.30 the following morning two council workmen were at my back door with shovels, digging me another escape route all the way up to the local shops. They came knocking on my front door when they were finished, which wasn't until around 11am as they'd done an amazingly thorough job, getting right the way down to the tarmac, and ensured that the path was plenty wide enough for the wheelchair. They'd also gritted the whole lot to minimise any refreezing if it snowed again. I wanted to offer them a cuppa, but after apologising for the quality of the grit (!!!), and saying just to call if I need their help again, they were on their way.There are some lovely people in the world, and all the good Samaritans who have helped get me through the snow deserve medals.