Saturday, 19 January 2013

A Journey in the Snow

The concert ends later than I’d thought it would. In fact, I should have been back half an hour ago and it’s at least an hour’s drive from here. I phone home.
“Really?” he says. “It’s snowing quite heavily here.”
There are a few flakes tumbling as we go to our cars. I have to smile as a fellow choir member and her passengers fail to find theirs.
It is warm and cosy as I set off. My head still buzzes from the joy of the concert. Though we were cold the atmosphere was glorious. The music on Classic FM is exquisite. The snowflakes are large and turn to water as they hit the ground. We’ll be all right.
But as we join the ring road and head north it becomes more serious. The snow is sticking and crunches under our wheels.  We form a convoy – two or three small cars and a couple of lorries. It’s good to have professional drivers on board.
I remind myself. “Drive positively. If you skid, drive into it.”  
We negotiate crossing four lanes at an interchange that is tricky at the best of times. But where I should cross another two lanes and come off I chicken out. I cannot see the road at all and know that there is a raised pavement in the middle. I stay with the convoy and go into town, getting off at the next exit.
 I just need to go up the ramp, across the top and down the other side.  
As I turn off the slip road I skid a little and it’s almost fun – like ice-skating in a car. There’s nothing to hit. I remember my own earlier advice. A split second later the car is straight again. My heart rate’s up, though. Lurking at the back of my mind is the memory of writing off a similar car in similar conditions. Still, this car is more stable: it has power steering and front–wheel drive. The other was manual, rear-wheel and had all the weight at the back.    
I’m on my own going back but it’s not too bad. And once I’m off the express way I can walk the rest if need be. It’s only a couple of miles.  
I turn into the road that leads into the village next to where we live. There’s a bit of a steep hill but now it’s only one and a half miles. It’s stopped snowing. A walk in the snow might actually be quite pleasant.
A car swings out of the pub car-park and I have to slow down. Curses. It slows me even more as I have to wait for it to turn right. Will I have enough momentum to get up the hill? Still, only one mile now.       
The car chugs along, easily climbing, though I sense the ice underneath. But we make it to the top.
The next challenge will be the S-bend and the parked cars on our untreated road. I take it steady. I keep the revs high, like they tell you to. And finally, I’m home.
I turn on to the drive. But it won’t have it. The car slides and slips and threatens to bash the one next to it. I don’t want to leave it on the street. Another car might bump into it.
I hammer on the door. “We’ve got to clear the drive,” I cry when he comes out.
It takes less than ten minutes and I park the car safely.
I enjoy a stiff drink. It’s now well after midnight: the journey that should have lasted an hour has taken two and a half. My heart is still thumping. But actually, though I wouldn’t choose to do that drive if I didn’t have to, I have quite enjoyed the challenge.            

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