After such a long break back in Rzemien we had started to go a little crazy, thinking about all the things we should be getting on with back at the house: walls to trim back ready for the electrical cables and fittings, internal walls to build which will then allow us to start on the plumbing, wood to order for the terrace and floor giving it time to season over winter, paperwork to fill in and deliver to ensure we keep the authorities happy and vehicles to check that the antifreeze is good to keep them ice free. So yesterday, with my teaching done for the week and Christmas fast approaching, we thought we better head out and see what we could achieve before we get caught up in the festivities.
Van packed with freshly washed clothes, food for us and the dogs, laptop, camera and beers; the last three my responsibility, we set off determined to stay for at least four or five days and get some work done. Checking the forecast, which predicted snow showers and milder temperatures of –6°c for the coming week, we thought we would be fine as long as we could get to the nearest farm; park the van and walk the remaining km or so and get the Niva out of the barn and then drive back to get the supplies out of the van; a great plan!
The main roads seemed fine, even if the snow was starting to settle a little, the moving traffic was keeping the tarmac visible; so we were able to make progress at a reasonable speed, but as we drove on we did start to wonder what it would be like closer to home. Not that we had to wait long, as three-quarters of an hour on, as we turned off the main E40 and onto the road for Olimpow. A road with no name according to Google maps, which wasn’t far from the truth as we joined the snow covered track! Now any sensible person would have turned back at this stage, but common sense had long since left the vehicle and we crept along in the hope that we might just be able to make the remaining 20 km, including the final hill that takes us to our planned destination. The 20km yes, the hill, no; not a chance, not even half way. So we turned round and headed back to take an alternate, much longer, route. The new route was a little flatter, but not without event; if I told you that Gosia was close to wetting herself on more than one occasion then I’m sure you get the gist of it, but I managed to keep the van on the road and eventually to our neighbours down in the valley; the new idea was to park up there and walk up the hill to the house, get the Niva…….
So as Gosia stopped to chat and catch up on events in the village I headed up the hill in ever deepening snow to retrieve our Russian built 4×4. Worried about the antifreeze situation I quickly checked the radiator and was happy to see liquid in there and not a block of ice, so I fired up and headed out into the virgin snow; perhaps a foot (30cm) deep. Reversing out of the barn and getting up the first hill proved a little difficult, but once I reached our hand-built road, albeit under deep snow, the Niva found a bit of grip and I started to have some fun; even more fun as I reached the top of the hill and the drifts thickened to a couple of feet (60cm) and with no clear definition to the road I ploughed on through fields in the general direction of the nearest farm. I once read that the Niva was built for Siberia, not suburbia, and I couldn’t agree more 🙂
So supplies transferred, we began to asses our situation; temp outside -4, temp inside -2, so I started the fire, reassuring Gosia that I’d warm the place up in no time, that was when I noticed the water boiling pan was frozen solid; not to worry it will melt, then Gosia shouted from the barn ‘the pickled gurkins have frozen in the fridge, and the eggs!’ Umm, it must have been cold (Kazek recored -20)! Of course as we started to check we discovered all sorts of things had not taken to the cold temperatures too well, including 50KG of apples we had in storage, our 5 gallon water containers and the baby wipes we keep in the outside toilet!!
And that was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Gosia, the frozen baby wipes, and our plans of a five day frozen retreat in Pstrongowa did exactly that and we decided to retreat back to Rzemien.
At least we brought the Niva back with us, so we won’t be hindered by the weather; should we be daft enough to go back again anytime soon 🙂