The Christmas drive of my life

Angie Wilson with her Audi at Holiday Inn Victoria
Angie Wilson with her Audi at Holiday Inn Victoria
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Angie Wilson is passionate about her role as executive director of Red Apple Law, a company which matches a panel of law firms with businesses and charities needing legal services for fixed fees. She drives 10,000 miles a year for work and owns an Audi A4 Saloon. The unforgettable drive of her life happened one Christmas past...

I do look forward to the end of year work Christmas party. But the one I kicked up my heels at in 2010 resulted in the nightmare car journey of my life.

It was being held at a lovely hotel in Axbridge, Somerset, after a board meeting. It had been snowing on the drive from South Yorkshire and the snow didn’t stop falling until we were getting ready for the do. My husband and I, along with my colleague Kirsty Littleood, who would be making the trip back with us, convinced ourselves it would have melted by morning.

But when we popped outside for a mid-party burst of fresh air, we discovered the snow had started again and Axbridge town square was a foot deep. We went to bed praying for it to melt overnight. But at 7am we were greeted by 1.5 feet of snow - and it was still falling!

Realising it could be now or never, we set off straight away - and immediately discovered our beloved Audi A6 saloon, just a year old, was not a suitable car for driving in snow. Especially not snow like this.

We battled our way out of the smallest town in England, a beautiful chocolate box setting but with narrow roads and buildings leaning into the road. Caution is needed at the best of times but the snow made it almost impossible. Eventually we hit the dual carriageway and then joined the M5 motorway at junction 22.

We made our way cautiously up the M5, but then hit the most enormous traffic jam - the motorway had been closed at Wychbold in the Midlands due to the weather.

All three lanes were choc-a-block with stationary cars, vans and lorries. The wind was blowing the snow into drifts on the hard shoulder and each vehicle accumulated a thick layer of snow within only a few minutes. It was like looking at an abandoned, snow-drenched car park with only the tiny flickers of light from within some of the cars to suggest there was in fact life among us.

We didn’t move for over two hours. Luckily we had suitcases of clothes - albeit partywear - to layer on. We kept turning the engine off to preserve fuel, then on again to activate the heater. We rationed out a pack of sweets and tried to stay in good spirits. It had to come to an end soon, didn’t it?!

When we eventually got off the motorway, the scene was no better. We crawled along for another two hours and were starving and in need of the loo. Finally, at 4pm and after eight hours and only 90 miles, we came across a pub and made a vital pit stop. By the time we left, the place was absolutely heaving with other bewildered, tired, hungry travellers.

We aimed for the M42 five miles away, but it involved a couple of treacherous hill climbs. There was cars and vans sliding all over the place, people trying to push vehicles up the hill, cars slipping back down again... Chaos. I was told to bounce up and down on the back seat to give traction on the back wheels; exhausting!

At one point Kirsty and my husband pushed the car while I drove. I finally reaching the brow of the hill, but daren’t stop in case I couldn’t get going again. I was fast approaching the slip road to the M42 and panicking when my passengers appeared in my rear view mirror, running as fast as they could. I opened the door and they ran alongside and jumped in like stuntmen.

The M42 was much clearer, but progress had to be very slow... The ordeal had taken its toll on our clutch. It sounded at breaking point and an acrid, almost eggy smell from the smell of the cable burning was with us the whole time.

This 17.5 hour snow story thankfully came to an end at 1.30am. But days before Christmas we had to shell out £1,500 for a new clutch

Needless to say, every year I leave for my work Christmas party with trepidation. This year’s do is at the Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare. A Winter Wonderland Spectacular is promised. We are looking forward to it, but I will have been checking the weather forecast for days and may well decide to let the train take the strain.