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  The Chatter Box : Travel
Messages 1 2 

Aberdeen break. by Ken Dunn on 8 February 2009 7:48pm
We got back this afternoon from what should have been a 3 day holiday break to Aberdeen. The weather forecast on Friday was for cold conditions with snow so we arranged to stop with a cousin in Dundee on the way in case the weather worsened. We got to Dundee with no trouble and after a short stop drove on to Brechin where we had another stop. The weather was still fine so we moved on to Stonehaven, our usual last stop on this journey and it is about 20 miles from Aberdeen. In Stonehaven while we were having a refreshment the snow started and for me it wasn't serious enough to prevent finishing the journey so we set off again.
On our approach to Aberdeen we saw cars coming towards us with snow on and this seemed ominous but we continued to join a queue of traffic about a mile long easing forward towards the first roundabout on the outskirts of Aberdeen. It took us 15 minutes to get to this roundabout. From there we had 13 roundabouts to get through before our destination and each one was the same with the traffic flow slowed to a crawl due to an icy road surface and some snow heaps at the side of and in the centre of the road.
After the third roundabout we diverted to find a quicker route and this was successful for about half a mile but the same delays happened and to make matters worse it was at the time of day when workers were making their way home.
We then had to do some careful map reading to ensure we got back onto a direct, but very slow route, to our hotel. The traffic continued to move very slowly and after a long time we rejoined the original route at the fourth roundabout from out destination. From here, as it was later, the traffic was easing and although the icy conditions prevailed we made slightly better time from here on, finally arriving at our hotel 3 and 3/4 hours after joining the queue for the first roundabout about 5 miles away.
I later said to my wife, 'That's us, we've arrived at base camp!'
The next day, as it had snowed overnight and there was about 2" lying, I decided to put on the foul weather gear and go for a walk to assess the conditions for an outing. While I was out the snow started again but I did find a Park and Ride terminus about 1/4 mile from the hotel and the buses were running. I reported this back to my wife who was at 'base camp' but she wasn't keen to venture out so I gathered up my stamp collection and wants list and went back to the Park and Ride terminus and caught a bus to the town centre. About halfway to the centre the bus stalled and we were stuck on a bridge. Fortunately the bus driver was able to restart the engine after fiddling with it for a couple of minutes and we were on our way again. I got to my stop in the town centre without further mishap and walked up to the stamp shop which I had checked was open before leaving 'base camp'
At the shop I got some important stamps for my collection and ater visiting a couple of other shops went back down Union Street to catch the bus back to the hotel.
When I met up with my wife again I said we could put up the flag at base camp as I had managed a very successful visit to the stamp shop.
The remainder of that afternoon (Saturday) was spent watching Manchester City beating Middlesborough in the football and Ireland beating France in the rugby. Hooray! Both my teams won. we also kept an eye on the weather forecast which was indicating the weather to worsen again on Monday. We had planned to stay until Monday but with the worsening weather forecast decided that we would rise early the following day, make a final assessment of the weather and, if possible, check out a day early.
The next day (today, Sunday) I was up at 7am and saw that there had been more snow overnight so we finalised the decision to check out early. We left the hotel at about 8.45 after removing about 1 and 1/2 inches of snow from the car an noticing that the windscreen washers were frozen up with an outside temperature of minus 4 degrees C. I had to drive very carefully to prevent skidding but made good time through the city following a more direct route than on Friday to do the roughly the same five miles distance in about half an hour.
Heading South on the main road with the washers still not working there was a lot of salt spray being thrown up by lorries and other vehicles that passed. Because this was wet the wipers worked well to clear the windscreen but the further South we went the drier the road became and any salt spray was being smeared across the windscreen giving restricted visibility. I had to stop 4 times to get out and wipe the windscreen clear. On the last of these ocassions the smearing was so bad I was blinded to the view ahead except for a very small section of windscreen through which I could just see the road ahead. Fortunately we were very close to a lay-by and I was able to reduce speed and carefully draw in to stop and clean the windscreen.
From there on the conditions improved dramatically and we were able to get home safely with even having time for a long break and a walk round Perth.
At home there was still a thin layer of snow on the roof of the car after the 120 miles as the temperature had only risen to plus 2 degrees C and the bodywork was thoroughly smeared with salt residue from travelling through the spray of other vehicles.
We were glad to get home and are able to relax now, not having to worry about travelling in such treacherous conditions.
Re: Aberdeen break. by mrsthing on 9 February 2009 12:09am
-4C and a couple of inches of snow are nothing compared to what we get in New England, and what we get is nothing compared to what they get in upstate New York and the northern midwest. Is that normal weather for Scotland in winter?

Too bad your trip had to be cut short. At least you got to see a couple of good games in Aberdeen.
Re: Aberdeen break. by peripatetically on 9 February 2009 12:42am
Judy, Scotland gets more than that, depending on where you live. The highlands get more and so does Orkney and farther north. We usually get ore than 2 inches too, but I guess Ken wasn't far enough north for the worst. My friend in Dundee gets more than 2 inches, but this year has escaped it by a miracle, she told me yesterday. And I know for a fact it gets bloody damn cold and damp over there too! I'll stay here, thank you. I love Scotland but wouldn't wan to live there in the winter. And their winters are longer than ours. Summers are never as warm as ours either and they are quite short.
Re: Aberdeen break. by peripatetically on 9 February 2009 12:55am
Ken, glad you got back safely from your adventure! I thought you were joking at first when you said you took your album out into the snowstorm. HAHAHAHA..
Re: Aberdeen break. by mrsthing on 9 February 2009 2:39am
I could never survive a Baltimore summer! The few days I was there in June 2007 were sheer torture--it was in the mid-90s and drippingly humid. I was so glad to be in an air-conditioned hotel!

I was just surprised that Ken had so much trouble driving. Around here, a couple of inches of snow slows things down a bit, but nothing like what Ken experienced.
Re: Aberdeen break. by Ken Dunn on 9 February 2009 2:03pm
P.S. The car windscreen washers are working today at +1 degree C.
Re: Aberdeen break. by peripatetically on 9 February 2009 2:09pm
Not here either, Judy. I was surprised too, unless there was ice underneath, then it's bad.

HAHAHAHA, yes , we ALL hate those hot humid days here. When people say they live in humid regions, I always wonder just how humid and doubt it's as bad as here. People usually just don't realize how miserable it can be. Even Florida summers generally can't compete with us. But I love it here. Every day isn't necessarily unbearable. Our summers makes it easy to jump right into a backyard pool or the ocean. I was in Cape Cod many years ago and the water was too cold for swimming. We sometimes have to do a toe test before getting in and easying ourselves on some days, but once we geet wet, it's heaven! And easy to get out wth the sun baking your body. Ahhhhhhh. And not tepid water like a bathtub--- just refreshing.
Re: Aberdeen break. by mrsthing on 9 February 2009 4:34pm
Since I have a substantial layer of blubber, I seem to be able to enjoy swimming in just about any water temperature above 55. My daughter and I went swimming on a freak hot weekend last May, and the water was frigid (57F, I later found out), but we both adjusted and spent quite awhile paddling around. I figure I burned some calories just staying warm. LOL!

Having a child who was fearless and very mobile from her first birthday on, I got used to just jumping into the water to make sure she stayed safe. Her first visit to the beach, at age 16 months, she *ran* into the water and didn't stop until it was a few inches over her head! I caught up to her and saw her looking around, wondering what was going on. I yanked her out pretty fast. I laugh about it now, but I was panic-stricken at the time.
Re: Aberdeen break. by Holle on 9 February 2009 5:15pm
As things happen, we came just for a short visit to a friend of us - who is English and lives now in Germany - as he had the bold BBC headlines on the screen 'Snow chaos in England'.

He said, 'Oh look that's so embarrassing...' and than he explained: As the UK sees such a winter only every 20 years or so it is just not worth the investment (public in a proper snow plough fleet and private in winter tires) and people are simply not used to drive on icy roads.

As he came here and his girlfriend asked him for the first time to change the tires for the winter, he was just puzzled 'What's wrong with the tires, they look good?!' Meanwhile he knows what winter tires are and how to drive on icy roads... so just give the British a bit practice and everything works fine ;-).
Re: Aberdeen break. by peripatetically on 9 February 2009 6:25pm
Brrrr. that's a little too chilly for me, but a quick dip might be ok. lol.
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