This weather would strike right in the middle of the busy exhibition season, with Nairnshire Modelling Supplies having four shows in almost as many weeks. The recent Tyneside show was not affected by the weather, but things looked ominous for the Falkirk show, another important event in our calendar. We travelled down on the Friday before without a hitch; our ten-year old Ford Focus making the journey without a slip over Slochd, driving over frozen slush on the A9. She delivered us safely to the hall, via lunch at Cafe Tabou in Perth. We must admit to visiting a dealer outside Perth to look at a new car as we are growing more concerned about the ability of our trusty Ford to keep up with the increasing pace of exhibition life.
As the weather deteriorated further over eastern Scotland during Saturday, we checked the weather forecast with care for Sunday and saw a looming disaster for us: getting stuck on snow in the Central Belt with a car full of stand and product. It was with regret that we decided to pack up on Sunday morning before the show opened to make a run for the north and home before things became too bad. It was as well that we did!
The A9 was closed between Dunblane and Perth, so we travelled north up to Kinross to join the M90, following a Tesco fuel tanker which did much to clear the road for us – a clearly skilful driver. The picture above shows the M90 Edinburgh-Perth motorway just after we joined it at Kinross. Not too bad, we thought, we can handle this! This was round 11am and the fuel tanker truck was making good progress ahead of us.
Approaching the high point of the M90 south of Bridge of Earn at Glen Farg, we realised that things were really bad on the main roads around Perth. South bound traffic was clearly in difficulty on the long hill up Kilknockie bank as can be seen in the above picture, with jack-knifed lorries and cars sliding all over the place trying to get round them. It was clear that the steep hill from Junction 10 to Broxburn to access the A9 would be chaos too, so we decided to avoid that and run over the River Tay bridge, down to Junction 11 and go through Perth itself to avoid long hills.
We thought our plans were to be snookered by the slope up to Junction 10 as cars were sliding all over the place at the point where the motorway divided. Our trusty Ford kept its grip on the road thanks to Avon Ice Touring tyres I had fitted this Autumn. We could not help noticing that the cars in most trouble were the posh, expensive Audis, BMWs and similar so-called luxury cars. If only we had four-wheel drive for this spot, we would have charged past in lane 2! However, after an hour we got over the top and down the hill into Perth. I wonder how many became stranded after we passed because the snow became steadily worse and was accompanied by thunder and lightning too, a most eerie experience.
I would like to say thank you to the organisers of the Falkirk club for their understanding and for the good luck messages from our friends on the Scottish exhibition circuit. We did get home after six hours of hard driving, safe and sound. Oh and our trusty old Ford Focus never put a foot wrong the whole time, as heavily loaded as she was! What many would like to know (including ourselves) is why the private road contractor responsible for maintaining the M90 was so tardy in getting ploughs and gritters out on the motorway when the local councils kept roads in central Perth open and the A9 north of Perth almost totally clear… We saw only one plough on the M90 and that was long after so many people had got into serious trouble south of Junction 9.