Winter holds a firm grip on Hamburg, northern Germany.
Here in Hamburg and in the whole of Germany, people are struggling with extreme temperatures of -15°C, blizzards, extreme snowfall and ice. The layer of snow in our garden is about 40-50 centimetres thick at the moment, and it is expected to increase for another 20cm in the next few days. This weather makes it extremely difficult getting anywhere outside your house, especially driving to school.
This is because only the main roads are cleared from snow and ice, so all smaller roads are covered by an extremely thick layer of clear ice. Of course cycling is impossible at the moment but you can also risk your life by walking down our road, even though everyone is expected to clear the part of the road outside houses. All kinds of public transport are affected by the weather, often buses and trains have to be cancelled for many hours because of the snow. Lots of car accidents happen here every day, the most common ones are cars sliding into ditches, trees or other cars.
There have been many casualties, especially with elderly people, caused by slipping on ice outside their homes, resulting in broken limbs. So many in fact, that insurance companies are threatening to sue home owners who do not clear snow and ice outside their property.
An unfortunate casualty also occurred in our aviary in the garden. One of our budgerigars had to have a foot amputated after spending the night on a block of ice during temperatures of -17°C. The last winter which was this severe took place in 1978, so this is the first time many people here have experienced this extreme type of weather. At first, about five weeks ago, nearly everyone was happy here, because of the rare experience of a “real” winter, but now, after weeks of frost and snow, everyone would be happy if the snow melted away. A real problem is the recent shortage of road salt, which makes the situation on the main roads even worse. At present it would be better to go skiing on roads than to drive. This is why my parents really dislike the snow now, as smaller roads are as slippery as ice skating rinks and other roads are covered with thick layers of snow, which turns every small trip into an Arctic expedition.
But, for all that, the cold winter has it’s good and sometimes even romantic sides. I am able to practice skiing on the local golf course,…………..and there is nothing quite like walking over a huge frozen lake with your dog, while the sun goes down in a long -lasting beautiful red sunset, before darkness falls.