John C. Kirk (johnckirk) wrote,
John C. Kirk

It's shovelling time!

As many people have mentioned, it started snowing in England yesterday. Last year I bought a snow shovel, so this was a good opportunity for me to try it out.

My original plan was just to clear the path directly underneath my flat. However, this didn't take very long so I decided to keep going up to the end of the street. One of the guys from the local DIY shop said that I should be careful not to get sued, but as I mentioned before that's just a tabloid myth. Meanwhile, the London Ambulance Service have reported a surge in 999 calls due to the snow, so I hope that clearing the pavement will reduce the risk of injury to other people.

While I was doing this, someone else came out to his car from the DIY shop. He saw what I was doing, then went back inside to buy a snow shovel from them: he said that I'd made him feel guilty. I'm not trying to put anyone to shame, but I do think it makes sense to lead by example; "be the change you want to see in the world" and all that. Since I wasn't wearing high vis, I think it was obvious that I was just doing this as a volunteer rather than a council employee (or convicted criminal). This also made me feel a bit less guilty about buying the shovel online rather than going to the local shop. Still, I think I made the right choice; the other guy commented that my shovel looked like a good one, particularly with the metal edge on the plastic "blade".

I basically did the path in two passes: the first pass was to shovel, then the second pass was to scrape. The latter is where the metal edge was particularly useful, either because the snow had turned to hard ice or because the path was uneven so I had to dig into hollows with the corner of the shovel.

Here are two photos for comparison:

Cleared area to the north Uncleared area to the south

The first one shows the path that I'd cleared. I basically moved the snow from the black tarmac to the red brick area on the side. That way I'm not dumping it onto the road (creating new problems) but there's still enough space for people to walk along, even with pushchairs or wheelchairs. The second photo shows the area to the south, and I only cleared the closest part of that (up to the boundary between the blue and red buildings). Looking further away, you can get an idea of what the whole path was like when I started, with fairly shallow slush/ice spread across most of the width of the path.

I then decided to do another section, partly because I want to head out to the shops soon so this will benefit me, and partly because I wanted a proper test area for the shovel. Here are the before/after photos:

Snow before I started Cleared path after I finished

This took me about 35 minutes. There was some real snow here, which is actually easier to shovel than slush. In this case, I dumped the snow into the adjacent car park (currently blocked off) so I cleared the whole path. Again, I went around scraping afterwards, because I didn't want to make the problem worse by leaving the path more slippery than it was when I started. However, since some slush had already turned to ice, I think that makes my efforts worthwhile.

I haven't put any salt/grit down, but hopefully the council can do that before the next snowfall. It's possible that this snow would have all melted by itself: I'll look at a control area (e.g. a flat rooftop) tomorrow for comparison. I've left the shovel in my shower so that the snow/residue can melt without making a puddle on my floor. If the snow does continue then I think I'll just stick to a smaller area on a daily basis, but if enough other people pitch in (e.g. the "riot wombles") then between us we should be able to cover the whole area.

Anyway, I've now thawed out with a mug of hot Ribena so it's time to head back out again.
Tags: snow

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