Winter fun in 1979

In January 1979 Swampyland was snowed in, the entire country was underneath in 10 to 50 inches of snow after freezing rain covered the country for days and days.

And then the temperature even dropped to -24 Celcius (-11 Fahrenheit in ‘old money’) and there was about 5 or 6 inches of ice which is why we learned ice skating on the streets and not on lakes and large ponds that year as in the years before.

If that wasn’t bad enough it started to snow severely, two or three yards of snow but as we needed the roads for ice skating they were cleared by us straight after breakfast, dozens of children with snow scoops working and cheering. And then the ice skating fun began.

We didn’t have proper ice skates with shoes on them in those days, we had wooden skates called Friese Doorlopers (Frisian Walkers) which you had to tie to your shoes. They came in several sizes and shapes and you had to tie them really tight or else they would move underneath your shoes. The more expensive skates would have a ridge in front of the heel of your shoe so your shoe wouldn’t move forward and compromise your stability.

My dad who was -like many fathers- unable to go to work because of the wintery conditions, had put snow chains on the tyres of his bright orange VW T2 bus and pulled a lot of sledges on the tow bar through the streets with two or three kids on each of them. We didn’t have to go to school for at least two weeks as there was no public transport and no school buses.

The local bakery had a grey VW bus with snow chains delivering bread and so did the milk man and grocery and vegetable store owner did the same thing with his lorry going slowly through the icy streets. I can remember us complaining to them because they were ruining the ice at the end of our street. They were unable to get any further anyway because of the many children ice skating so it didn’t really mater.