It’s been a strange start to the year. On the 4th, after two weeks away, it felt as though everyone was back and raring to go – then at the end of that week the snow and ice arrived. For the first time since I’ve been here, we were forced to postpone workshops, which have now been rescheduled. The past few nights have seen temperatures in rural districts around Henley drop to minus 17, and life has skidded to a halt somewhat.
Everyone’s hoping that next week will provide some respite, though the forecast is hardly encouraging. There were some interesting features on the BBC about the difference between “weather” and “climate”, which we may need to remember when other consequences of our economy manifest themselves in other places and times this year.
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The Home Counties (where Henley nestles) were brought to a snowy standstill yesterday afternoon and evening, with amazing scenes of gridlock and abandonment of cars along leafy lanes. I got away early enough to get back to Oxford, but other colleagues were not so fortunate. And this morning driving in via Marlow looked like a middle-class disaster movie as many people had not retrieved their BMWs, Mercedes and (ironically) 4 x 4s.
Many people sought refuge back here at Greenlands and Alan Brand, our Director of Hotel and Estates circulated the following memo this morning. Congratulations to those staff who stayed around or came in to help everyone out.
“Greenlands played it’s part yesterday in what must be some of the worst snow conditions on record for this area. All available bedrooms were full (some having to double up! ) with a mix of staff who were unable to get home (some tried and gave up choosing to return to work!) and some local business clients, Many staff who left early were caught in horrendous travel conditions and reports of 5+ hour journeys to Henley and surrounding areas were common however I am sure more accounts will emerge today.
I would like to thank ALL the Henley team who joined me at Greenlands last night for rallying round and pulling resources for what turned out to be an enjoyable evening for most! Some special mentions go to Lee and the catering team for providing a hot meal (Thai Curry and Scampi and Chips yum yum!), Delphi for looking after our diners, Gary for providing refreshments, Tim for laying on the Disco! and Kalyan for managing the night shift which included some delicate negotiations ref room sharing ! Many other colleagues assisted throughout the evening to ensure all our guests were comfortable.
A special mention goes to Beth Hunter who, after sending the Front of House team home in the afternoon, manned the phone and reception until late to ensure all staff and clients were settled and to David Amara (Security Officer) who abandoned his car and walked (yes walked) from Caversham to Greenlands to cover his shift finally arriving at 11.30pm………….. given that we outsource Security, that’s dedication in the extreme, well done David.
A great example of the Henley Experience. Thanks to all.
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Snow has become an “event” in the UK. At least, the weather forecasts in the 48 hours were warning of ‘significant snow events’ in and around London and the south east of England on Monday.
In the event, visitors from eastern Europe or very northern Europe would have been left scratching their heads at the complete and immediate collapse of just about every aspect of outdoor existence under the weight of what would have appeared to them as no more than a minor annoyance; as opposed to great blizzard. But, when in Rome…
Actually, I imagine that the lack of preparation and equipment to keep everything clear and moving did actually prevent many going about their business, but the growth of technology since the last time this region was snowed under (18 years, they say) meant that you could be just as (if not more) productive working from home. I got through a lot of backed up administration, for example. And, by all accounts, Henley looked just lovely in its winter coat.
Back to normal frustrations tomorrow.
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