I am what I would describe as a confident driver. I have been driving for about thirty years (gosh is it really that long?) I actually enjoy driving, especially since I got my first brand new car about three years ago. It’s a Vauxhall Corsa, limited edition, it has a sports steering wheel, sports pedals, 17″ black alloy wheels, black trims and a turbo engine. My very own bright red little ‘pocket rocket.’
I was fortunate enough to qualify for finance and so made the exciting decision to buy a brand new car, which I have never ever had before, it only had about ten miles on the clock and smelt of that lovely new car smell. I must confess to being a little bit precious about it as well. For example wherever I go I don’t like to park next to someone who has dents all over their car – for obvious reasons! If I park in a car park I always try to park on an end where possible so it doesn’t get a door bashed on it. I think a lot of people with newish cars are like this too. When I go to the shopping centre I find it amusing to notice that it is always fairly new cars parked on the ends and often parked across the line just to doubly make sure that nobody gets too close to them!
As I say, I am confident and enjoy driving. There are two things I am not enthusiastic about though. The first one, which I will avoid at all costs, is driving on the motorway. I would far rather spend an extra hour journey time driving through the scenic countryside, than have to contend with lorry drivers, inconsiderate people who stay in the outside lanes and idiots who weave from one lane to another, often without indicating or checking to make sure the lane is clear. Maybe this is an irrational fear, perhaps blown out of proportion, but I really don’t like it. My nearest motorway is the notorious M25 and if you know that, maybe you will understand…
My other pet-hate is driving in the snow. No particular reason for this really, I just think it’s dangerous. Actually maybe it’s a control thing, maybe sub-consciously I like to be in control and when you drive on the snow you are not fully in control, the weather conditions reign. To be perfectly honest in the South of England we don’t very often get snow anyway and if we do get it, it’s only a couple of inches, not five foot high snowdrifts – usually.
In the UK at the moment we have had a weather force called ‘the beast from the East’ – a spell of severely cold weather and a fair amount of snow. Where I live it is about two inches but because it has been so cold – an average of about -5, I think it went to about -9 and with the wind chill factor felt about -20 (well maybe a slight exaggeration!) because it has been so cold we have a lot of ice on the roads with snow on the top.
Wherever I have lived in the past, I have always been within walking distance of my work. Even when I lived about two and a half miles away I used to really enjoy my walk to work, especially in the summer. Previously also when it snowed I would don my snow boots, gloves, scarf and thick coat and be more than happy to walk to work. Now, however we live in a village about six miles away.
When I noticed the first sprinkling on Tuesday my initial thought was “oh that’s ok I can walk.” When my rational hat popped on though, I kind of thought well yes I could walk BUT the time it would take usually would be about two hours, factor in icy, and snow covered, pavements, some parts with no pavements at all plus sub zero temperatures, would probably increase the time to about three to three and a half hours. This put me off a little. Factor in also my bad ankle from falling down the stairs a couple of weeks ago and I was put off a lot! I would just have to brave it and drive.
I brushed off the snow from my trusted little Corsa and hesitantly and cautiously set off on my journey. Our road is a small one with not many houses and therefore not gritted at all so I knew I would have to be completely focused and on top of it. I edged my way along the road crawling so slowly that if I had to brake it wouldn’t be an issue at all. So far so good. I indicated and turned out of my road to the lane at the end. This however wasn’t so plain sailing – or should I say skiing – the lane goes slightly up hill so as I turned into it so slowly, my car stopped and then stalled. I turned the ignition back on and gently out the foot on the accelerator yet nothing happened, apart from my wheels spinning round yet going nowhere. “Oh no, what on earth was I supposed to do?”
Adrenaline kicked in. My flight or fight. My only choices here were to stay calm and be patient and keep trying or to abandon my car and walk back home and do – well I don’t know what. This didn’t seem to be a viable option so I decided to stick with it and try my best. I tried again and again but my efforts were fruitless. Perseverance, however, eventually paid off, I finally managed to get going again, although a little sliding occurred – well quite a lot actually, but there were no other cars around to slide into and no people anywhere in sight. So it was all ok. I managed to get to work, quite safely and I was able to drive home again that evening.
Every day this week, the snow has been slightly worse, the roads have been more icy and the weather has been colder. It has been really difficult and I have has some heart in mouth moments and had to drive ultra-carefully and slowly but I DID IT! It probably doesn’t sound much to those of you who are used to the snow or have big four by fours or if you are not phased by the snow at all, but for me it is a massive achievement. I feel really pleased with myself for being able to accomplish it.
Sadly there have been many accidents in the UK this week. In some places it is the coldest March ever recorded. There have been motorway pile ups and some people have lost their lives. My thoughts are with those families who are dealing with such tragedy. I hope my post doesn’t trivialise how awful the weather is at the moment, particularly those affected by accidents, shortage of food, older people who are vulnerable and susceptible to cold related diseases and those who may not have adequate fuel to keep their homes warm.
It is not my intention at all to play down the seriousness of the situation, I just wanted to share that I have managed to do something I didn’t ever think I would.