The moon had a strange look about it, like a misty halo, the cold night air and a slight ground mist added to the eery look. It was early evening, a friend and I had arranged to go to Hirwaun to look at a vintage engine which I wanted for my collection and set out on the 40 mile journey; it should have been simple, if satisfied load up the trailer, pay the money and be on our way home again. As always, one gets side-tracked whilst in the company of other collectors and we spent a while looking at the hidden gems lurking in the building we were visiting. At last the time came to go home, we had previously an hour before secured my purchase onto the trailer and as we stepped out of the building to leave I couldn’t believe my eyes; everything was covered in snow.

The journey home was interesting, to say the very least, the A470 and M4 motorway were like tramlines, traffic crawling in the blizzard-like conditions. On approaching the end of our very long and slow journey my friend said he’d walk the half-mile from the motorway junction to his house in case the side roads were impassable and after dropping him off I struggled on the last couple of miles, not to my flat in Southerndown but to my parent’s home where I was house and cat sitting whilst they were in Australia. I managed to skid and slide up their driveway a short distance and then abandoned any hope of going further; and that’s where my camper van stayed.

Cover of Western Mail Blizzard SpecialOvernight the blizzard raged and by morning the snow lay deep in the drifts. A flurry of kids out early started playing in the snow, all thoughts of going to school were abandoned as everywhere lay under a foot or so of snow. It continued snowing on and off for most of the day and then late afternoon I had a call from the friend I had dropped-off the night before, he was in a bit of a dilemma and needed assistance. The snowfall was obviously only covering South Wales and not the whole of the country and had not occurred in London where my friend’s three youngsters had been staying with a relative. They were unaware of the severe transport problems and had just been put on a train for home, there was no way he could get into town to meet the train if it arrived, so could I meet them and possibly put them up overnight or until he could come and collect them?

Just as well I was house-sitting as my normal place of residence was miles out of town. It was still snowing as I walked to the station, the train, not surprisingly, was very late arriving at Bridgend and the children alighted onto the platform with a very inquisitive look on their faces as I greeted them and explained the plan. My parent’s home had a number of beds so it was easy to put them all up overnight or even for a few nights if necessary and soon we were back in the warm tucking into a meal of fish and chips which we had purchased on the way back from the station.

An igloo built during the 1982 blizzardThe following morning the sun came out and my friend’s youngsters couldn’t wait to get outside but their shoes were still soaking after the walk from the station the evening before. Fortunately I kept a few pairs of wellington boots of assorted sizes in the camper van for visitors to use, so before long they were happily enjoying the snow in the borrowed footwear, throwing snowballs, rolling snow into heaps, jumping into the deep drifts, the sort of things children and young teenagers do when they haven’t seen snow for ages. Outside on the road and pavements there was plenty of snow which could be rolled into blocks to make an igloo; so that was the project for the remainder of the morning and soon we had a construction tall enough to be able to stand up inside. My friend meanwhile, had decided to trek the three miles into town and walk his family back home that afternoon; I think they would have been quite happy to stay longer with me and looked quite sad when the time came to depart for their long snowy trudge home.