Hayley Matthews: Snow can be dangerous even for Highlanders

I'm the overcautious one in the household and my partner has laughed many a time at my suggestions of 'do this just in case' or 'don't do that it's dangerous'. However, we reached a new high mid-week after the snow warnings.

Friday, 2nd March 2018, 6:00 am
Take a blanket, warm clothes, water and food when driving in snow (Picture: AFP/Getty)

On Wednesday morning, the text came in to tell me all schools in Edinburgh would be closed due to severe weather so I told my partner, be prepared to sit in the car for hours because you might get stuck. “Ha,” he laughed, “I’m only going to the Gyle!”

Ah yes, however, bad weather and traffic chaos do not discriminate against how long or short your journey is. I don’t mean to sound like a know-it-all but before working in TV, I managed a team of traffic and travel editors and broadcasters for nearly 10 years and we’d seen it all! We ­provided travel reports to radio stations up and down the country and were all well aware of the treacherous spots in poor weather.

“But Hayley, it’s just the Gyle,” my partner repeated. I’ve seen, many times over, one small accident turn the roads heading for the Gogar, M8, M9 and beyond into absolute chaos. I remember well the severe weather in 2001 when we were all housebound and the airports were closed. I remember the devastating impact on city-centre commuting that the 2010 weather had and it’s nothing to be laughed at. We all need to take this seriously and stay off the roads.

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We argued as my partner was getting ready for work. I told him, “Please take a blanket, some water, snacks etc because you could very well not get home until well past midnight the way things are going.” Again, he found this hysterical then it hit me. He’s a Highlander, has seen some pretty bad weather, and this wasn’t bad weather to him, this was just winter.

He raised the good point of “why did they never get a red weather warning when the snow was that bad up in Wester Ross?” Not Game of Thrones Westeros, the real Wester Ross. I had no idea. Maybe they were just used to it? Maybe, it was “the norm”, I really didn’t know – but what I did know was how it could all go tatties up with a tailback on the A8 and no one would be getting out the Gyle. “Just take a bloody blanket!” I said.

And so he did, whilst giving me a smile as if to say “you’re being ridiculous” and off to work he went. About six hours later and after only the ­second-ever red weather warning issued for us, I texted my partner saying he should head home as the blizzard conditions had set in and the Edinburgh skyline was just a big white blur. Turns out he had been sent home early and was actually on his way.

He’s still adamant that, had he got stuck, he would have jumped on a bus, tram or walked it home and wouldn’t need any car supplies. That would have been fun in a pair of Converse! Anyway, I’ve just accepted that it’s because he’s a Highlander.

He’s seen much worse and probably driven over the Bealach Na Ba to Applecross in much worse conditions than we’re seeing just now. However, I will be keeping that blanket in the car. Even if we don’t use it, you never know when someone else might be in need of it or we may need it to help an injured animal in the bad weather, because after all, you can never be too careful, can you?