Monday, December 20, 2010

A snowy adventure

For the last few weeks I've been hearing news reports about the heavy snow in the UK. In Berkshire we had seen only a sprinkling of snow, like the kind of icing sugar sprinkling that you put on your mince pies - i.e. nothing worthy of a mention.
It was Mr Monda's birthday on Friday, so we headed up to Stratford upon Avon to the Royal Shakespeare Company to see Matlida - the musical apadptation of the Roald Dahl book. The musical score was written by Tim Minchin so we had high hopes.
 It wasn't snowing when we left home - I checked the weather reports and we looked like we'd be good to drive to Stratford. We'd been travelling for about 2 minutes when out of nowhere, thick heavy snow started coming down. I've never seen anything like it, within about 60 seconds everything was white and we couldn't see the road in front of us, it was surreal. It lasted about 10 mins, and then stopped so we pressed on with the drive.

We had dinner at the new rooftop restaurant at the RSC - excellent food and good value for money too. Then we walked over the the courtyard theatre to see Matlida, which was just brilliant. I have no doubt it will be going to the London Theatres after it's initial run in Stratford.

We were staying in a little B&B just outside Stratford, and the plan was to spend Saturday pottering about the shops and having a bit of lunch before slowly making our way home.

The only bit of Saturday that managed to happen was the 'slowly making out way home' part. I'd been checking the weather reports constantly to ensure we didn't get stranded. We were prepared for it if we did though, we'd packed some food, sleeping bags, snow boots and a snow shovel just in case.
The reports were for heavy snow from lunchtime, so we decided we ought to make an early start and get home before the snow came. We managed to get as far as the M40 motorway before the snow started coming down, at about 9.45am. The roads were still passable though, so we pressed on, but the further south we came the heavier the snow got.
It wasn't ideal or even sensible to be in the car on snowy roads with heavy snow coming down, but really thought we'd be ok.
We managed to get about half way home before we came to a complete standstill. There had been an accident up ahead, we were on an incline, lorries had jack-knifed blocking the carriageway and cars were desperately trying to find some grip - many of them slipping and sliding backwards.
The scene was quite bizarre - a snow covered motorway, where people were jumping out of their cars to help push other drivers to get them started.
We spent just over 6.5 hours in the car, doing a journey that should have taken 1.5 hrs. It was stop start all the way, driving in second gear at about 20mph and trying to stay in the furrows of the car in front of us.

I managed to get a couple of pics on my phone. This is the M40 Motorway - 3 lanes had become one barely visible lane:

This is on one of the local roads in Berkshire. It looks like it could be Canada or somewhere in Scandinavia:

 Things I have learnt from my little snow adventure:
  • Weather predictions are just that - predictions. 
  • Driving in snow isn't fun. I won't be doing it again unless I absolutely have to. 
  • Snow hitting the windscreen at -3 degrees freezes and forms ice blocks on the windscreen wipers - rendering them almost useless.
  • All the cars that were stranded or needed pushing were BMW's. I've since found out that they are real wheel drive. Perhaps they should have tried driving backwards :o)
  • It might be worth investing in some snow socks for the car
  • To keep a snow shovel in the car, along with a coat, hat, gloves, blanket, torch, sleeping bag, food and something you can have a wee in if needed. There were plenty of men lining the sides of the snowy motorway having a wee, but I guess like me, the ladies were just crossing their legs!


Kitty said...

Sounds like a nightmare! So glad you got home safely. The snow is lovely to look at, but so horrible when it comes to matters which require transport. x


OMG, what a nightmare. Also very sensible advice too Re: Snow driving prep. At least you saw Matilda I bet that was very good. Good to hear you got home in one piece.

Gina said...

What an adventure - so glad you got home safely eventually.

Ali said...

We drove somewhat nervously back to Oxfordshire from Newcastle on Sunday. Scary. And long.

Garden Girl said...

Have just sat reading this and nodding-we live just outside Stratford(and have also seen Matilda-fantastic!) the day you were driving back to Berkshire we were driving from London back home-having had a weekend away for our anniversary.Our stories are identical, and we must have actually passed each other at some stage! scary stuff. And my only tip to get over the female toilet thing? a very handy Cath Kidston washbag that happened to be in my luggage. Nuff said!x