mumsnetBack along, my family and I swapped a house for a three-acre field in Devon and a leaky caravan where we lived off-grid for two years. Sadly, we failed to get the planning permission we needed to stay. We are now back within four walls, with a proper loo and everything in a cottage in Dartmoor. So this is now a blog about living ethically amid a fabulous landscape with our home educated kids while we adjust to being 'normal' - for a while... and what we plan to do with our land next

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Salt of the Earth

There are four roads in and out of our village. Two are wider and gritted in winter because they are on the school run. The other two are one-car wide and wind down and up hill in a fashion that brings a frisson of danger to driving on them in even the best of conditions.  
An icy road in Devon.

We set out to go to Exeter one day last week and because the man was driving, we took one of the narrow twisty roads – in fact, the narrowest and twistiest – it being a slightly shorter route as the crow flies. This was not something I would have done – as I believe I might have mentioned several times in the subsequent hours that followed.

The road drops down from the village and then rises steeply again while simultaneously turning a sharp corner. On this corner lay a blanket of sheet ice, which we managed to get halfway up before sliding back down again sideways and coming to a diagonal resting position with each bumper firmly wedged into opposite hedges and our car completely blocking the road.

This may have been the first point where I volunteered the information that I would have taken a different route.

I wanted to cry. I couldn't see how we would ever move the car and I was scared another vehicle would come sliding down the hill straight into us. It seemed to me, as I stared hopelessly at the car, that the only way we would ever get out of the predicament was for a helicopter to airlift us.

In the absence of anything meaningful to do, I set off grumpily – and very carefully – down the hill to the nearest farm hoping to find some way of warning oncoming traffic that they couldn't go any further. 
This was a good move. For there I found two imperturbable sorts who listened stoically while I babbled crazy talk about helicopters and calling the police. 
'Have you used the grit in the bins,' they asked.
'Er, no,' I said sheepishly 'I didn't see that.'
'Ahhh,' they said exchanging glances, 'well, we'll get it shifted'.
'It is extremely wedged,' I said – but with an airy 'we've seen it all before' they set off up the hill shovels and buckets in hand.

And they did get it shifted. They melted the ice with the grit and heaved and pushed and shoved the car while Gully executed a 200-point turn until it was back facing the right way again and we could resume our journey.

I felt at a loss to adequately express my gratitude.

We returned the other, wider, gritted way – which I may possibly have observed that I would have taken in the first place.


  1. Bless you my love but that is a teensy weensy bit hilarious! Lovely to hear of your rescue. Not the first time you've taken the harder road I'm sure...:0)

  2. Hi skooldaze, lovely to see you. Yes, I did think about a Road Less Travelled title, but that might have indicated purpose as opposed to a more headless chicken approach to going about life!