Well, the first flakes of snow are falling in the UK and we’re already preparing for the worst. It’s always interesting to see just how much of a regional variation there is in how us Brits deal with the fluffy white stuff. The Scots and the Welsh tend to roll up their sleeves and get on with it, as do us Northerners.
However, once the stuff starts settling south of Watford Gap, all hell seems to break loose – the world comes to a halt and Peston comes on to BBC News telling us that financial meltdown is bound to follow because a bunch of City Bankers can’t get into work for the day.
Of course, I jest.
Mind you, I do have a few memories from last year’s snow flurries that will stay with me for a very long time. As some of you might know, I ran a 1.4-litre Rover Metro diesel and, while it was a little shabby to look at, it was mechanically sound and rode on good tyres. As a result, at no point did it even threaten to struggle in the snow.
There was one sweet moment when I was climbing out of Corby on a very slight incline (maybe 1 in 50), when I saw an Audi A3 stuck at 45 degrees across the road with several people putting their backs into pushing it back into action, while the driver sat inside flooring the throttle – no doubt wondering why the wheels weren’t doing anything. Traction control? You betcha.
Two more tales: the Corsa stuck in a side road attempting to enter a main road of queuing traffic – driver flooring the throttle, wheels spinning pathetically, car not going anywhere and my neighbour in his Astra – flooring the throttle, bouncing off the limiter, not going anywhere. The same old story. He only got moving when a few of us started digging out the car. Why he didn’t dig it out himself beforehand is anyone’s guess.
We used to get a fair bit of winter snow where I grew up and, as soon as I had a driving licence and Mk1 Vauxhall Cavalier, I’d relish any opportunity to practice in the snow. My advice, then? Learn how a car feels. Anticipate where you can and can’t get grip – and appreciate just how much traction you have in freshly laid snow. I guess it’s harder to practice these days as roads are more crowded but, if you do have the chance to have a play, I thoroughly recommend it.
Oh, and if you’re in the south, your life might just depend on it.