So how do you like to spend Christmas Eve?
A leisurely walk, maybe, in all that glittering new snow. Build a snowman and throw a friendly snowball or two at your offspring. Back home to a nice warm fire and listen to the Nine Lessons and Carols while making a few last minute mince pies and icing the Christmas cake. A pleasant family evening meal then enjoy a glass of port and one of those mince pies while wrapping up the last presents in front of that roaring fire. Perhaps venture out to Midnight Mass, although all that snow might pose a bit of a problem. Wait up until the small hours when your teenagers might possibly be asleep and do the Santa Claus routine. (I did wonder about getting up early and doing this bit in the morning, but teens can be very unpredictable.)
You’ve spent the 23rd cleaning, emptying the fridge, putting the rubbish out, packing, having a family meal with leftovers. All that snow has been beckoning but has been firmly ignored. Come the late evening, there’s just time to collapse in front of the fire with a glass of port and a pile of presents to wrap. Early start on the 24th, pile into the car and head down the frozen motorway towards the green fields of the deep south of Somerset. Brave the traffic jams on the M6/M5 parking lots but arrive in time for a warm welcome, a glass of wine and a huge evening meal, courtesy of Mother-in-law. Head for the midnight service in the tiny village church and then the Santa Claus bit. Maybe next year I’ll set an alarm for the early hours so that we can sneak in unheralded. When do they grow out of stockings?
Same scenario on the 23rd. Tramp through the snow to load the car in the early hours of the 24th and set out a little nervously on the frozen motorways for our Christmas adventure. The main roads are more or less clear so we decide not to take our normal route via Biggar through the hills of the Borders. Good decision. But in this version, the car breaks down near Glasgow. Stops. We turn round to head back along the M8 to home and the other car but it stops again. refuses to go any further. So, at 0830, we call the 4th emergency service, the AA.
With the prompt arrival of a 911 breakdown truck, things didn’t seem too bad initially. After all, we weren’t that far from home. But, as we drove off, our rescuer was told to drop us at the nearest services rather than take us home, and the AA would take over from there. So it would be that, rather than icing the Christmas cake or heading down the road to that welcoming dinner in Somerset, we were destined to spend the day at Harthill Services.
Option 3, our choice of course, went something like this:
“There’ll be someone there at 11 to take you home.”
Just time for a cup of coffee and bacon rolls, then.
“It’ll be 1pm before we get to you.”
More coffee, keep the coats on (the snow outside was deep) and make use of the free WiFi.
“There’s someone on the way – 2.30”.
Buy a pack of cards. Harthill Services is a petrol station with a small cafe, for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure.
“The earliest we can get to you is 4pm.”
Groan. Start wondering who we can call. Whose numbers we’ve got and who would be brave enough to venture out in the deteriorating weather. And then, at 4.30ish:
“It looks like it’ll be midnight before we can pick you up.”
More to follow…