Incident 12 - Neighbour recounts being stuck outside her house


Last week I was out walking with my dog. Our part of the UK had been hit a four days before with the largest amount of snow-fall we have seen for at least ten years!


I walked down a hill and saw a lady stood outside her house clearing snow from the road and her drive.

The day after the heavy snow fall I had also walked this way and noticed what appeared to be a lot tyre marks at the bottom of her drive, covered in fresh snow. It was obvious that someone had been pretty stuck there for quite a while. However, I did not know if she or her husband had been driving at the time. I suspected it would have been him, as she mentioned to me during the snow that we had last February that she did not like driving in snow.


I stopped to talk to her to see if I could find out what had happened. To start with she told me how her husband Richard had spent that morning clearing two tracks in the snow on the hill, that were the exact width of their car’s tyres, in an attempt to make it easier for them to get their car up the hill when they needed to go out. She explained that he measured the exact distance between the wheels of the car, and then marked that distance out in the snow on the hill before digging two groves in the snow all up the hill at that width – how is that for deadication?


As she was talking it suddenly occurred to me that if she did happen to have been the driver that made the marks that I had previously seen, I could record her telling me on my new mobile! Whilst she was explaining about Richard’s endevours in great detail, I got my phone out and pretended to look at a text message, when I was really turning on the ‘memo voice recorder’. I then stood with the phone in my hand as she carried on talking.


I obviously do not have her permission to place the actual recording on the web, but I have spent a while typing up the conversation. I hope you consider it worth while!


When I came back from my walk I went to take some photos to illustrate her stuck story. Guess what, bloody Richard was out on the hill digging his grooves further up the hill! By the time he had finished it was starting to get dark, and so the photos are not the best.


Also, please bear in mind that it had snowed twice since the previous Sunday evening that she was talking about, and after the last snow shower, we had had a much warmer day, and consequently quite a lot of the snow had melted. Then of course Richard had been busy digging the tracks on the hill!


The scenes in the photos are therefore quite a bit different to how it would have been on the Sunday that she refers to. I myself was also out driving that night. The snow-fall that night was really heavy, with great big flakes, and was falling onto already frozen ground. By the morning it was lying about 6 to 8 inches deep, which is absolutely amazing for us!



View looking down the hill. Ladies drive entrance marked with red cross. Most of the snow had gone by the time I took this a few days after the incident.




Shows her car car parked on the drive and approximate route that she took during the snow storm to get it there. Disregard the tracks dug in the snow on the hill. See above for an explantion!




Zoom in to see the fertilizer bag under the rear wheel!




Sorry this one is a bit blurred, but it was almost dark. Shows the dip (gulley) at the side of the road that trapped her




Red arrows show the slope of the pavement and road, down into the gulley where she got herself stuck




Shows the steepness of the hill and explains why she could not reverse back up when originally stuck the first time.




Shows that the hill is at its steepest, right where her drive meets it!


I finally managed to get round to asking if she had driven in the snow.


Here is what she had to say: "Oh yes. We went to a party on Sunday night. That was when it snowed. I had to drive home because I was not drinking. We took about 40 minutes to travel 6 miles. The snow was bucketing down, so I had to drive all the way in second gear”


I said: "Did you take that long because you got stuck or something?”


She replied: “No, I managed to keep going but I could hardly see anything. The problem was when we got home. I just could not get the car into the drive. I sat there just spinning my wheels, sort of weeeeze weeeeze , you know, spinning but not going anywhere. I tried for ages, but I could not get off the road. I kept trying to go back, but because of the slope of the road, I could not back up far enough up the hill to get a run at the drive. I think the problem is to do with the slope of the drive as well”


I said: "What did you do?”


She said: " “Well we did not want to leave it half out into the road, and I was stuck so much I could not go up into the drive anymore, nor back out into the road. I was sort of trapped in the bottom of a V. Richard got a shovel and spent ages clearing snow from the drive and in front of the wheels. It sobered him up. I could not help because I only had on my high heeled party shoes and my party frock. I was only getting out once we were safely on the drive. It still took me plenty of goes with lots and lots of wheel spinning to get the whole of the car into the drive. Richard did not want me to leave any of the car sticking out into the road, in case another car braked and then skidded whilst coming down the hill and hit it. I have never been completely stuck like that before. It was horrible not being able to drive where you want to. I kept thinking ‘It will be alright this time’, but it never was. I was just so stuck, and then my leg started aching from moving the clutch pedal so much. I was mightily glad when I finally managed to slither up the drive far enough”


I said: “So you did finally make it then?”


She said: "Yes, but you have not heard the best bit yet. We were about to go to bed when Richard looked out of the window. He cried out ‘Oh know’ and called me over to look. You would not believe it, but the car was almost right out into the road again”.


I said: "How come, had you forgot to put the handbrake on?”


She replied: “No I had, it was the ice on the drive. The slope was steep enough to make the car slide back on the ice, all on its own. It was about half way out into the road, and so we had to go out and start all over again. The trouble was that when I tried to pull forwards this time, I was trying to drive straight up the drive and I did not have the slight help that I had the first time from the fact that I been previously heading down the hill as I approached. This meant that I had to try and start off with the front wheels already on the upward slope at the bottom of the drive. The first few times I tried, I did not even move at. I was just sat there with my wheels spinning round and round. Richard told me to go back and out across the road as far as I could so that I could use the road to get a run up at the drive. I slowly rolled the car straight back for a few feet as the front wheels went across the pavement, but then it stopped. I tried to reverse as I still had room to go back further before I came up against the hedge, and I wanted to go back as far as possible to use as much of the road as I could to get a run up. When I tried to reverse, the wheels just span and I could not move. I opened my door to look and realized that it was because my front wheels were now down in a slight dip, where the road camber tips towards the pavements beside the kerb”


As she was telling me this, she walked to the side of the road and showed me the slight dip, by shoveling some snow from next to the kerb.


She continued: “It does not look much does it, but it was enough, because I just could not get back. When I then tried to go forwards I had to try and drive up across this sloping pavement (pointing at the pavement at the bottom of her drive) and then onto the slope on the drive, all from a standing start. To make matters worse, the car had obviously slid back soon after we left it the first time, and for the hour or so since then, until we saw it, it had been snowing heavily the whole time. The actual drive in front of the car was covered in freshly fallen snow, which had fallen on top of the ice that had already formed after the rain that we had before the snow had started. The drive was so slippery that I even almost fell over trying to walk down it to the car”


I said: "So what did you do?”


She said: "Well when Richard saw that I could not move the car onto the drive, he suggested that I try to go backwards again as he said I would definitely need to get a run at the pavement and drive, and pointed out that the slope up the camper of the road was much less than the slope of the drive. That made sense so I tried really hard for about five minutes to reverse back towards the hedge behind me, but the wheels just span and I could not move. He told me to keep dipping the clutch up and down and that eventually I would wear away the snow and ice and get down onto the tarmac and get some grip. The trouble was it was still snowing heavily, and all the time the drive was getting covered more and more right in front of me, and still I could not move. It was luck nothing tried to drive past down our road, as they would not have had room to pass and would have had to sit and watch me being completely stuck half blocking the road. I would have been so embarrassed, but would not have been able to do anything to let them pass by. Richard went off to get some hard board from the garage. He started clearing the drive of snow and then I helped by laying the hardboard on what he had cleared, to stop the new snow building up again on top of the tarmac. I was wearing some trainers by now so I could help”.


She continued: “Once we had finished I got back in and Richard put two pieces behind my front wheels. I then managed to reverse a on them for a few feet, but I could not get back any further once I had gone off the hardboard. He then quickly removed the hardboard from the drive and I tried to immediately drive forwards up the slope, before too much new snow settled. It was amazing, as his clearing the snow hardly made any difference. I only moved forward the same few feet that I had just managed to reverse, and then a few more onto the pavement, and that was with my wheels spinning like mad. As soon as I got the front wheels onto the actual drive, I just sat there spinning and spinning all over again. I went back and forth a few times but could only get about a foot or two onto the drive before I span to a halt each time.


I said: "How did that make you feel?”


She said: "I started to get really frustrated but Richard told me to calm down and be patient. He put the hardboard down onto the drive after each attempt, apart from the piece that covered the area that he was working on clearing, but he could only just clear it faster than it was falling. He gradually cleared underneath about three boards and told me to try again. He reckoned that if I could just get up a bit more speed on the road and pavement, then when I got onto the bottom part of the driveway that he had tried to clear, then I would be able to get up the last few feet of snow covered drive, using my momentum”


I said: "Did his plan work?”


She said: "Well sort of, eventually, but I must have sat and waited for him to clear snow and then remove all of the boards at least six or seven times. Each time I tried to drive in, I got a little bit further, but not all the way, before I span to a halt again. I got really annoyed, as I was getting tired and just wanted to get the car off the road. I even shouted at him ‘Why can’t I get the car up this slope, its not steep. I just want to get inside in the warm and not sit here all night spinning my wheels like some typical stupid woman driver’. I was so frustrated, but he was really cool, and just kept telling me to be patient and I would get there in the end. On what turned out to be the last attempt, I really went for it and slammed the accelerator nearly to the floor. The wheels were spinning at top speed and I thought I was going to wake up the whole street, but I just did not care. I span and span those poor tyres so fast I thought: ‘If they do suddenly get some grip, then I am going to ram our other car, which was parked at the top of the drive, into the garage door’. It was really strange, because I am normally such a laid back driver, nothing much annoys me. I just take it all in my stride and wave at other drivers if they get cross with me. But that night I turned into one of them. I was just so frustrated with both the car and my inability to drive up a small slope for just a few feet. It looked so easy, but I tried everything and nothing worked what ever I did”.


I said: "What do you mean? What did you try?”


She replied: “You know, things like trying to pull away really slowly, trying to start off in second gear, through to revving the engine really hard and letting up the clutch really quickly whilst pressing the accelerator nearly to the floor. I also kept turning the steering wheel from side to side to try and find some grip, as well as using the hardboard to drive on”


I said: "Did you try rocking in your seat then? That often works”


She said: "Oh yes, that was one of the things Richard was trying to get me to do. I found it quite hard to start with, but he stood by the open window giving me instructions and eventually I got the idea of pressing the accelerator and clutch in the opposite direction to try and rock the car backwards and forwards when I was stuck. Mind you I don’t know why he bothered, because it did not work and I was still stuck in the dip”.


I said: "So you made it eventually then?”


She said: "Oh yes, in the end. I was so relieved I can’t tell you. I then had to sit there in the driver’s seat, whilst Richard looked for a brick to put under the wheels, to stop us sliding back down yet again. He could not find one and so he had to use a bag of fertilizer instead. Look, its still there. It looks really odd doesn’t it?   


I said: "So what are you up to now?”


She said: "Trying to clear some of the snow from the bottom of the drive and pavement and some from out in the road. It’s mainly so that I can drive out and get up the hill if I have to. I don’t like the feeling of being trapped in your own home. I will be very glad when this bad weather has finished. I have proved to myself that I am not very tolerant when driving in it, especially if I get stuck”


She then went on to talk about other ‘boring’ things!