Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Snow Chains And A Shovel.

____My newly found prowess in snow chain fitting was a big factor in my decision to take the Transylvanian mountain route across Romania. By the end of the first day, I knew it was the bad option. Progress was slow and as darkness fell I was stuck at the bottom of a particularly steep incline, with only the knowledge that all the brown bears were in hibernation to console me.

____At the crack of dawn, I was out with one of the world’s most travelled shovels; trying to guess if the raised humps on the snow covered verge contained heaps of grit. Invariably they did not, so I had to make do with chunks of turf to provide my grip. It took over two hours to give the 300 metres up to the brow of the hill a liberal sprinkling of dirt, stones and grass. Once I began moving, I did not want to stop again, on this or any other hill; so I brewed up a cup of tea and had something to eat before I started. While I was drinking my well earned cuppa, a snow plough came over the top of the hill, pushed all my hard work into the side of the road, swerved round me and disappeared out of my rear view mirrors. I was stunned, not only because I had wasted the whole morning, but I had never before seen a snowplough in Romania.

____In frustration, I attacked the hill as it was, gunning the Merc at full throttle in third gear. All this did was to spin the wheels and the offside snow chain flew into a hundred pieces. Fortunately, the snow plough returned an hour later, when he put me on the end of his tow chain. For the next 40 miles I was towed up hill and down dale until the driver came to his home town. At times, I thought the snow plough driver had forgotten that I was still attached; but he was only trying to maximise his Kent cigarette income on a mileage basis. The driver was well pleased with his 200 king size. I felt for a thousand, he would have pulled me all the way to the Hungarian border.

____Out of Romania, it was no warmer, but driving conditions improved as I drove further west. For the last leg of the journey, my sole surviving snow chain was able to stay hanging on its hook at the back of the unit; shining brightly. Appearing for a few days as if it was made of stainless steel; before slowly returning to rust.

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