Only mad dogs and Englishmen (go out in snow)


The recent snowfall in England has successfully done its job once again, in bringing pretty much most of Great Britain to a complete standstill. Airports closed, network rail halted, and roads gridlocked with abandoned cars.

Of course, only the crazy and stupid people would choose to get in their cars and add to the problem when the snow is falling and the gritters are still stabled. The warnings come thick and fast to NOT drive unless you absolutely have to.

Which of course, is why we found ourselves driving through Saturday’s blizzard, both dressed in wedding finery, and going nowhere fast.

The event was a wedding in St Albans, and the groom was my husband’s work partner and friend. My husband was an usher. So simply put, we HAD to travel. We had planned to give the journey – apparently 1 and a half hours – 3 hours to make. But as the snow fell heavier and heavier I knew we should leave earlier by at least an hour.

The problem was that we couldn’t leave until my in-laws arrived to be with the children, and due to the weather, they were also delayed by an hour and a half. So in the end we left at the original planned time of 11am and set off.


The roads were thick with snow, nothing had been ploughed, and more was falling all the time. Visibility was down to about 20 feet, with the fat white flakes hitting the windscreen thickly and staying there. There were a couple of hills that had me clutching the edge of my seat for grim death. But luckily we made it through the blizzard, and by the time it stopped we were half way though London, joining the Kilburn High Road.

And that’s were we stopped.

The traffic was just one long parking lot, creeping along at a rate of ten feet every ten minutes. It was so bad that when my Mr Boxer Shorts needed a toilet break he was able to get out of the car, go to Starbucks, have a wee, buy coffee and muffins, and get back to the car. I’d moved it all of 4 car lengths by the time he got back.

We kept crawling on, new scenery appeared, with local comedians entertaining us by slipping over as they did their christmas shopping.

Eventually I went for a walk too, popping out of the car to visit a chemist and stock up on decongestant tablets. Unfortunately they didn’t have a loo, because by now I was hopping about, desperate after the coffee.

 Luckily for me, we pulled into a service station a little further on which didn’t have a public loo, but the lovely manager let me use the staff one.


Everything got a bit quicker after that, with us finally joining the M1, where the roadway wasn’t clear, but the middle lanes were drivable. The only real problem was that we’d now been on the road for 4 hours, and the wedding service had just finished. But we were still coming – afterall, what was the alternative? 

The traffic flowed along at a speed that was fairly consistent. It wasn’t fast, but that didn’t matter. I was using both of our phones to check traffic and travel news, and from what I read we decided that we needed to get off the motorway one exit early, as there had been an incident between junction 8 and 9 – and 9 was the one we were going to get off at. 

As we approached junction 8 the queues began, and we started to slow down to stopped. We moved over to the slip road and took the early exit. I was concerned that the smaller roads off the motorway might be more dangerous, but we didn’t even get that far.

As we drove down the slip road we saw seven cars in front of us, several stopped, some skidding sideways, and a few people out of their cars trying to work out what to do. Hastily we veered back to the feeder lane that rejoined the motorway, and headed back to the gridlock we’d wanted to avoid.

And somehow – we jumped over it! The stopped traffic was behind us, and the traffic we joined now was again flowing.


The incident at this area became clear soon. I suddenly realised that there was not a single car on the opposite side of the motorway. Then we saw people walking. Then as we crested the hill we saw the queue of traffic going southbound totally stopped at the base of it. Halfway up the hill was a car lorry laden with cars at a slight angle, going nowhere. Several cars were also stopped on the hill, none of them totally parallel with the road. 

They simply couldn’t drive up the hill, and now the tailback behind the lead 4 trucks who had halted at the base of the hill looked to stretch on for miles.

I couldn’t help but feel totally relieved that it was them, and not us, as our exit came and we got off the motorway with just a few short roads to go before we reached our destination!

Famous last words!

The wedding location was a boarding school nestled amongst green fields and country lanes. The first road we turned onto was a narrow hill, and we were greeted by the site of one car sliding slowly backwards down the hill towards us.

Instead of giving up, Mr Boxer Shorts started the ascent. We reached the sliding car and steered around him, turning the wheels this way and that, and we slowly moved up the hill. I didn’t expect that we’d actually manage to reach the top, but we did, and the next few roads were snowy, but flat. I couldn’t take a good photo of these though, as we were really bouncing around.


The next thing we came to was a downhill stretch, with a hairpin bend at the bottom. I was cautioning Mr Boxer Shorts to go slower, when the car stalled completely, and started sliding down the hill. In order to start the car again, it had to be totally switched off first – which turns off the pressure assistance on the brakes, so there we were sliding even faster than before, and now in total darkness!

He started the car with 30 feet to go, and tried valiantly to make the hairpin corner, but to no avail. We ended up in a ditch.

Wearing wedding shoes, full tails and waistcoat, Mr Boxer Shorts had to bounce on the bonnet while I navigated back and forth to get us out of the ditch. Eventually I was able to drive forward and onto the road again, and we continued, feeling slightly shellshocked.

Two more turns and we arrived at the school, parked on someone’s flowerbed (probably) and joined the party. Six hours late, but just in time for dinner.

Over half of the guests manage to arrive at the wedding, though not all for the actual service. At the time we arrived the canapes were being served, but the chef hadn’t made it yet – he arrived not long after, having hiked up. The seating plan, which had been agonised over for weeks was tossed out the window in an instant, and we were told to sit where we liked, as close to the top table as possible. Fortunately, the top table was in the midd

The meal was wonderful, despite half the cooking being done initially by one of the waiters. And the ushers were not needed to serve, as enough waiters had shown up by the time the meal was ready. The atmosphere was warm and content as the snow continued to fall outside. 

While this probably wasn’t the perfect wedding day that the bride had envisioned, it would certainly be a memorable one, and made special by the fact that so many people did make a huge effort to be with them – despite all the odds. My husband wondered what this auspicious start says about their marriage, but my thought is that it says that they will weather all challenges thrown at them, with a smile, hand in hand. 

May this be their mantra in their married life yet to come.

1 Comment

  • dom says:

    good effort! i mean getting to the wedding not the writing – though that’s good too of course! i think the vehicle deserves mention – sounds like that also went above and beyond the call of duty. they never put this sort of stuff in car adverts do they? but it’s much more likely than driving through waterfalls and deserts etc. (oh god how do you spell deserts/ desserts??)