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A bit of a waste of an extra hour…

We are now in British winter time and, as per every year, we get our longest day of the year today as our clocks go back an hour. I have to admit, I spent mine sleeping.

I walked to the local corner shop and got my Sunday newspaper before going back home to cook a pork roast dinner with all the veg I could squeeze into the pot. It should be a good bubble and squeak tonight.

Having had said lunch and cleared the decks, I am sitting watching the drizzle come down onto the already damp leaves. Yep, definitely the start of winter.

Having checked out the met office website, I am reminded that I should check my winter emergency kit and refresh my knowledge on how to drive safely in winter weather. In the south of the UK, we’re relatively unlucky to get caught in unforecasted severe weather but while climate is what you expect, weather is get, it pays to be prepared.

I have to say one thing I do carry in my winter emergency kit is a candle and a means to light it. I love torches for light, but if you get trapped in your car when it’s cold, a candle can heat the small space quite effectively and make the difference between hyperthermia and feeling a little chilly. Ensure there is good ventillation before lighting – a candle burns oxygen and releases carbon dioxide.

When it comes to clearing the snow and ice from your windscreen and windows, a heated ice scrapper can be a boon and more energy efficient than burning fossil fuels to get the car warm.

I also carry a chamois for demisting the windows inside the car – again, rather than having to spend energy from the engine or battery. I do this before the start of a journey.

I’m a big believer in winter tires, but appreciate they can be a bit of a luxury. Do ensure your tread is in good shape – remember, if you aquaplane, do not break, instead gently ease of the accelerator and steer into the skid. When the vehicle gets good grip, proceed gently.

Remember, any patch of road can have a micro-climate, so while the road has been ice free, a dark or sheltered patch may have some lingering ice. Many modern cars with external temperature gauges will beep when the general temperature is 3°C which is when this is more likely – if you vehicle doesn’t have this feature, look out for clues that you may be in a micro-climate (more mosture or moss on the side of the road, for example).

Not always easy to do, but see if you can get skid pan training – my advanced motoring groups arrange these every so often and it really does mean you can learn in a safe and a controlled environment.

If you are planning on a journey in inclement weather, always ask yourself if you have to do the journey. Few things are worth risking life and limb for when you can use video calling or the plain old telephone to be close to people 🙂

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