The Friday Rant

The Friday Rant 25/01/2013

by on Jan.25, 2013, under Kielder, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast, Southeast Northumberland, The Friday Rant

I love snow.  Always have, always will.  When I left Arizona in 2000, that decision was driven, in part, by not being happy with the idea of living somewhere where I would have to go into the mountains to find anything that matched my idea of the winter.

The snow finally arrived last week and, as luck would have it, I was heading towards the remote wilderness of Kielder on Thursday as part of a press trip for Discover Britain magazine.  I met up with Vicky and Angharad when they arrived at Leaplish – after their satnav had thrown a bit of a hissy fit at finding itself in the middle of nowhere 🙂  The roads were clear (remember that, it’s important…) but there was a blanket of snow across the landscape that emphasised just how remote and sparsely populated Northumberland’s western border is.

Friday brought some proper snowfall, and once Sarah was home from work we walked the 1/4 mile to The Swan and had an interesting few hours with Kirsty and Chris, watching the snow falling and the snow ploughs and gritting lorries going by.  As we walked back home through a good 12″ of snow, the grit had done it’s job and the roads were clear and driveable…

Watching reports on the BBC turned out to be quite an eye-opener:  Northumberland was in the grip of winter, driving conditions were treacherous, deep snow was laying and causing travel chaos.  The poor reporter couldn’t have looked to be more stranded unless they’d buried him up to his waist in the snow.  The impression of winter chaos was helped by doing the piece to camera next to a narrow road on a forest edge – not the first time in recent winters that this particular dramatic device has been employed; our own favourites have been when they use narrow access tracks to country house hotels and give the impression that that’s the condition of the main roads, despite a clear and driveable main road being just a few metres away.  We’ve always said that Northumberland in the winter is an excellent birdwatching destination, and we’ve yet to experience anything up here that’ll make us say anything different.  Don’t be put off by over-sensationalized nonsense on the TV and in the press – come and find out for yourself 🙂

Now, we do appreciate that “there’s been some snow but roads in Northumberland are driveable” isn’t going to be award-winning journalism, but we really do take issue with this misrepresentation of our beautiful county.  They may as well take the weather map, write ‘Here be dragons’ across the section between the Tyne and the Scottish Border and be done with it.  Don’t be fooled – the next time you see a reporter and you’re not sure if they’re in Northumberland or on Mount Everest ask yourself one question…if conditions are so poor, how did they get there?

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