I’ll say that again.
That’s how long it took me to get home yesterday from Hertfordshire. Normally it’s 90 minutes of cruise control.
But this time it was 2 hours of medium going until it started to snow on the M4. I got onto the A33 no worries and then it really started to snow in earnest.
Huge fluffy flakes of the stuff. It looked wonderful. Exactly the sort of snow I love. I really wanted to get home and make a snowman of truly epic proportions.
I was stuck on the A33 for 3 hours making tiny forward motions and creeping past abandoned vehicles already lost in the utterly treacherous conditions when I finally reached the last roundabout before my turn off. Just one mile from my front door. One mile of snow covered road to go and I’d be home with a cup of tea before making my snowman.
What did I see then ?
Well up the last hill was a bloody big truck wedged sideways on the road.
So I turned around and attempted to get back to the M4. I thought that if anywhere was going to be clear first it would be the motorways. It wasn’t so bad for the first couple of miles as there were no other cars but when we came to the hills it was a different story. More vehicles at daft and unnecessary angles on the road had blocked my way again so I had to use some ingenuity to get out of the situation.
After another 3 hours that ingenuity consisted of getting out of the car and making snowballs to throw at the snow-laden trees and a medium sized snowman, much to the amusement of the chap in the van behind me. Eventually things started moving a bit and we came to the dual carriageway section of the A33 again. That was clear of cars so I made it to the M4 without further incident save for the squirming of the car on the crunching ice under the wheels.
Eastbound the M4 was a nightmare of stationary traffic in the heavy snow so I went West which was clear if slippery and stopped at the services for fuel, a coffee and a doughnut and free wifi ! Splendid.
I decided to head for Newbury and the A339 and get into Basingstoke that way.
The A339 wasn’t so bad actually. Similar conditions to the A33 in that they were suicidal and appalling but importantly there were no other vehicles to get in my way. After testing my ice driving skills acquired on the glaciers in Iceland I made it into Basingstoke and onto the dual carriageways surrounding the town. Here again I came to a complete standstill. After a bit of fumbling I managed to get a data connection on the box of iWitchraft so I found out that the whole of Basingstoke was gridlocked. Jack-knifed trucks and abandoned vehicles blocked the roads in the South of the town, the M3 was solid both ways with vehicles unable to enter or exit on the ice-choked ramps, traffic and accident victims had fallen by the wayside in the North. There were empty and dented cars everywhere.
We seemed to be creeping along though so I kept at it. There was no other way to go. It was abandon the monster and take Shanks’ pony or see what happens in the warm and dry of my huge Mercedes.
I voted for the warm and dry. I had a full tank of fuel, some water and munchies. The iPod was full of music and podcasts. Me happy.
By midnight I’d made it another 500 yards up the car strewn exit ramp and part way down the hill where I encountered an entirely naturalistic snow angel in the form of a nice lassie in a fetching but rather bizarre hat who was walking up and down the lines of steaming cars with a large tin of Quality Street handing out her blessings to all and sundry. What a top lass. I had one of those caramel cup thingies with the runny caramel inside. Yummy.
After another hour I’d made it onto the Audi roundabout where the police had finally arrived. Excellent.
They had a small team of chaps controlling the traffic up the hill. One vehicle at a time. They had broken up the ice along the half mile of hill so it was possible to traverse if you were careful. It was a system that worked well as we were moving in turn.
When it was my turn to go, after the trucks in front of me I opened the window and thanked the cop for his help. As I made my way up the hill I waved and shouted thanks to the guys with the shovels and the strong backs. They were helping other people who had come to grief to get up the hill.
I made it to the top without incident and finally, finally my gaff was within my grasp.
Not much further, maybe half a mile.
It was unmolested snow most of the way and with careful application of torque I made it along the roads and up the last hill. Turned into my road and saw the pristine snow on my driveway.
What an awesome snowman that would make. It would have to wait for the morning however as after 13 hours in the car I was feeling a bit tired.
Plus I couldn’t get the damn car up the drive !
So, at 1am, I dumped it in the road and went to bed.
And now this morning I’ve just had a coronary infarction after clearing the driveways and the road with my neighbour.