So the snow has finally reached Nappy Valley - the worst since 1992, they say. (I seem to remember that as the year my Dad got the car stuck in a snow drift in Suffolk - he retrieved it two days later, to find that someone had nicked the cigarette lighter, but nothing else..).
We woke up to dire reports of a 'major snow event' on Radio 4. (Obviously, it can't just be called a heavy snowfall any more, just as a recession has to be a 'credit crunch', banks have to be 'toxic', and government departments 'not fit for purpose'.) No buses running in London. Schools closed. Utter chaos. There could be (deep breath) 15 cm of snow.. In the midst of this desperate natural disaster, The Doctor managed to take the tube to work, and rang me to report that he'd arrived ten minutes early.......
I decided to take the Littleboys up to Clapham Common to make a snowman, having managed to scrape enough snow off the car to heave the double buggy out of the boot. Ploughing it along the streets in several inches of the white stuff was at least a good workout: a few hours later and I feel as if I've been cross country skiing.
The Common was heaving, and looked a little like a Lowry painting with hundreds of coat-clad figures milling about on a pale background. As the Littleboys gleefully built their snowman, accesorising him with Mummy's hat, I took in the unfamiliar scene.
Round here, there are two fairly dominant tribes - the twentysomething professionals, many of them antipodean, and the middle class Nappy Valley families - and clearly, no-one from either group had gone to work. There was a festive atmosphere; it wasn't so much children throwing snowballs, as crowds of twenty and thirtysomething Aussies and Kiwis running around pelting each other, building six foot high snowmen and piling into the local cafes to drink steaming lattes. Meanwhile, for the Nappy Valley types, it was as if the half term ski trip had come early. Whole families were parading around in their Killy and Helly Hansen gear; at least one family were actually on skis. The cafe on the Common, which has always slightly reminded me of a mountainside ski cafe, with its tiled floor, rickety chairs and canteen style service, was heaving with people drinking hot chocolate and braying as if they were in Meribel.
It was also far too busy to get a seat, so I told Littleboys that they would have to go without their usual pitstop. This did not go down well. Then it started snowing again. And I found myself in a blizzard, in the middle of the Common, with two cold boys and a snow-caked buggy. We charged back towards the high street, the previously fluffy snowflakes suddenly sharp on our faces.
As we emerged from our polar expedition into the relative sanctuary of another cafe, I struggled to heave the pram through the door. Both boys were also wailing by this point. As per usual, not one person attempted to help; they were all too busy making the most of their day off with their chocolat chaud and (quite possibly) their piste maps. The place was also packed out for a Monday morning; well, it's good to know that someone's profiting from the major snow event. Defeated, I turned to go and brave the Arctic conditions again.
But help sometimes comes from the unlikeliest of quarters. It was a twenty something Aussie girl who came to our rescue, and let us share her table. "I know what it's like," she explained. "I look after my little nephew sometimes."
Talk about the kindness of strangers.....