THE hysterical rantings of some of our more exuberant tabloids would indicate the winter nearing its conclusion has been one of the worst in living memory.

There were almost daily predictions of a beleaguered Britain disappearing under a foot of snow from early December to mid-March, as weather bombs exploded, icy plumes were sucked in from both Poles and I think polar bears were supposed to be drifting up the Tyne on gigantic ice floes.

It never happened of course, just as it has seldom happened ever since the red tops started gleefully predicting Ice Age winters and barbecue summers around the turn of the Millennium.

Sadly, there has been extensive flooding in many parts of the country this winter, but we in Tynedale have escaped the winter pretty well unscathed, with only one snowy day – and the snow had all gone by early afternoon!

Even as an early morning motorist, I have only had to scrape ice from my windscreen on a handful of occasions.

I remember the weather of the 1980s, when Tynedale was frequently colder than the South Pole with temperatures of -18C and lower fairly commonplace. It was so cold it was freezing the fuel in wagons, and desperate drivers resorted to lighting fires directly under their diesel tanks to thaw them out, incurring the wrath of the county council for melting the tar on the roads.

When snow plough drivers cut through massive snow drifts, they often had to contend with abandoned cars coming into contact with their plough blades.

I recall creeping to work in Hexham one morning and seeing a car coming towards me near Humshaugh at too high a speed. The lady driver lost control, hit the grass verge and her vehicle flipped on to its roof, leaving her dangling upside down from the straps of her seat belt.

Other drivers and I stopped to render assistance, but she insisted she was unhurt, apart from the fact the blood was rushing to her head.

With a concerted effort, several burly wagon drivers got together, and somehow managed to manhandle the vehicle back on to its four wheels.

The car was clearly in a poor way, with the lady’s head touching the squashed down roof, but with a bright smile, she put it in gear, and drove away at the same speed at which she had approached the bend.

With a shrug, the knights in shining armour let her go on her way.

Some folk, such as purveyors of sledges and long johns emporia are disappointed by the absence of snow, but I am not one of them.

But I have had more than my fill of the white stuff over the years, and the older I get, the less I like it.

As a youngster, I lived through the Big Freeze of 1963, when pop froze so quickly it broke the glass bottle, and my lips got stuck to the metal letterbox when I was shouting to my mother to let me in.

Strips of skin were still there when the daffodils came out.

My brother and I rode our bikes for miles along a frozen canal, spurred on by the cracks and booms coming from the shivering ice beneath our wheels and we did finally did go through the ice into the stinking mass of mud and dead dogs below.

We both broke out in boils and were off school for a week.

That’s one of the reasons I don’t like snow, and I can say in all honesty that it would not bother me if it never snowed again.

Mrs Hextol is keen to go on a cruise to Alaska, or the Norwegian Fjords, but with a delicate shiver, I have always declared: “We can do cold at home.”

Similarly, I can never understand why people would wish to spend good money on skiing holidays.

Whizzing down a mountainside with a couple of planks strapped to my feet is not my idea of fun, especially when there is every chance I will break a limb.

I have enough difficulty staying on my feet in warm and sunny weather as my eight-year-old granddaughter Elsie can testify.

We were on holiday in the Canary Islands and I was holding her hand as we walked round the hotel swimming pool.

“Be careful – it’s very slippery,” I warned and, seconds, later my feet shot out from under me.

Her concerned face was staring down at mine as I lay flat on my back.