News of the recent snowfall in the UK resulted in the usual guffaws of laughter here in the French Alps – 5cm of snow in Britain causes total chaos, here it results in the occasional Gallic shrug.

Fair enough, heavy snowfall is common in this part of the world so the authorities are far better set up to deal with it than their counterparts in the UK; even so, Britain does see snow most winters so it makes you wonder why the powers that be are so utterly incompetent at dealing with it.

That said, so are many of the residents. Here’s what I mean:

Recently, just afore Christmas, I’d gone for a few drinks with a couple of mates in a pub on t’ moors where I grew up in Yorkshire (t’ Packhorse above Hebden Bridge since you ask; also known as ‘t Ridge; if you want to experience the gulf in quality between a southern shandy-pint and a proper northern ale this is the place to do so).

Anyway, as we supped our ale snow cascaded from the heavens in spectacular fashion, but unlike the Three Wise Men a couple of thousand years prior we were not ‘sore afraid’ for we were travelling in the Daihatsu 4WD of my mate Paul. It’s a bit bent and battered but the combination of four wheel drive capability and decent all-terrain tyres meant we were certain to get home safely.

When we eventually departed ‘t Ridge there was a regular blizzard blowing, and ascending a steep hairpin en route we came across a stranded traveller (sore afraid no doubt), wheels spinning vainly as he tried to ascend said hairpin.

And yet he was in a brand new VW Toureg 4WD, surely a vehicle that could take a mere Yorkshire blizzard in its stride? Well, perhaps it could have had it not been sporting a set of racy looking low profile tyres. Why on Earth do you put low profile tyres on a 4WD? I’ll leave you to ponder that for yourself…

Anyway, the bloke in the Touareg enquired if we could give him a push. No problem, we obliged but to little effect – in fact we ended up having to leap to one side as the Touareg came sliding back down the hill towards us before crashing into a dry stone wall.

The rear wing was rent asunder and no doubt would cost thousands to fix. Whether it would have been covered by the owner’s car insurance I don’t know, since it seems the height of foolishness to pay tens of thousands for a 4WD and then kit it out in tyres that would have been more appropriate on a racing car.

Still, things could have been worse. At least the dude in the Touareg was able to get a lift back to civilisation with us in the beat up Daihatsu – with the sensible tyres.


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