Monday, 20 December 2010

Snow, neige and sneeuw

Sorry about the wonkiness
Well, the trip wasn't too bad. Really it wasn't. I could cycle to work easily and apart from a bus parked in my way, so I had to reverse on black ice, I managed to get away quite well. I arrived right about on time at the first address, waited for ten minutes for a bunch of no-shows and tried to win back the lost time after that. But the roads were okay.

At the last pick-up point I had managed to win back the time I had lost on the other pick-up points and actually left ten minutes early. The roads in Belgium didn't seem too affected by the snow either, until I hit Antwerp. And then the trouble started. According to some bloke I heard on the radio, they had salted and gritted enough. Well, the photo at the top is from the road between Antwerp and Ghent. I don't call that enough!

Fortunately after Ghent the roads improved considerably and we were able to get to Calais in time. There a combination of peeers (read it again if you think I spelled it wrong) and customs wanting to see inside the hatches, we just about missed our train. And then they skipped the next one. And the next. And the next! But we finally managed to get to the other side.

I had heard that they were expecting some heavy snowy weather in Kent (Great Britain), but I didn't see any. For the first 10 miles that is. After that, the snow started falling thick and fast. It was a white-out. In the end though, we got to our hotel only two hours later  (2.45pm) than last week, when everything was fine.

On Sunday morning I did my tour of the city to show all the highlights, after which I let the passengers roam free again until we left at 2.30pm to return to Folkestone to catch the train. This time the roads were clear and I made good time. Under normal circumstances I would have been able to catch an earlier train, but as it was we were waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting. We were finally able to get on a train at 7.15pm, we had been booked for the 5.20pm one!!

The worst was yet to come though: the roads in France were closed for all vehicles over 7,5 tonnes! I drive a coach. It is heavy. Then we learned that there was one road where vehicles over 7,5 tonnes were allowed: ours! But we figured that since it was the only road allowed, it would be impassable with all the traffic. So, with some trepidation we got off the train (by which time it was 9pm, timezones you see). We started driving and the only thing we saw was road. A clean and clear road. Hardly any snow on it and certainly not the amount of lorries and coaches we were expecting.

Of course it didn't stay like that. Within ten minutes traffic slowed and more and more lorries and coaches were on the road. Don't worry though: it was only two salting trucks keeping up the traffic. As soon as they left the road after 25 km (mainland Europe works with km, not miles), we could get our speed back up again and we were on our way again. After two hours we had a little stop right before Ghent.

After Ghent the road deteriorated fast. Snow, black ice, jack-knifed truck, we saw it all. We did an average of 45km per hour (just under 30m/hour) right up to Antwerp. The Belgians mustn't like that road very much! After Antwerp the roads were okay-ish and we finally arrived at 1.45am at the first stop in the Netherlands. I got relieved and went to a hotel near the stop. I was in bed by 2.30am. Worn out, tired and fed-up.

Oh, and if you were wondering what the title of this post means: snow, snow (in French) and snow (in Dutch/Flemish). Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...


  1. I'm glad you made it to and from London okay ;-)

  2. Oh no, Mara, it sounds like a nightmare to me. If there's anything I hate, it is winter driving. Just reading about your snow, neige and sneeuw made the muscles in my arms contract with fear.
    Glad you are such a good driver!!
    Luv, K

  3. Wow, that did not sound like fun to me. So glad you are safe and made it home.

  4. I hope someday I can spend a few days with you (take a friend to work day, heehee)I can only imagine the fun we would have and how m uch you would teach me where you live and the history of so much. Maybe we should make it a stay for a month. Ill try to win the lottery so we can do this. (ya right if that would ever happen)
    I am glad you are safe my friend.

  5. Thank goodness you got there and back without major mishap. Sleep . . . sleep . . . sleep . . .

  6. I have driven a long way in snow -- icy snow. It isn't fun.

  7. Driving in snow is so hard! I've done it a lot in a car, and my mini-van...but a bus? You must have nerves of steel!

  8. So glad you made it there and back. We've been hearing nightmarish stories about the UK, France and Belgium snow. I imagined you stuck in a snow drift somewhere.
    Anyway, you're safely home now, hopefully warm and snug and curled up sleeping.

  9. A good trip is always worth a celebration! I'm glad it was all done safely.

  10. I'm glad you managed to get home safely - the weather hasn't been great here (as you know).

    Many Yule blessings to you and yours, Mara (you are by far my favourite bus driver).

  11. What a nightmare the weather was this last week! I was in Holland visiting family and wasn't sure I was going to get to the airport to catch my plane back to the US, but did.

    I admire you for driving under these horrible conditions! I saw it all on TV. Amsterdam airport was a camping ground with all the stranded passengers for days.

    Wees voorzichtig!


Any weighty (and not so weighty) comments are welcome!