Exercise 1

Listen to Clive’s story. After each part, answer the questions.

1   Where was Clive traveling to / from? Who with? When?

2   What happened before take-off and why did it worry him?

What do you think might have happened next?

 When did things start going wrong?

 What did the pilot tell them?

 How do you think Clive felt and why?

What do you think might have happened next?

6   What did the pilot decide to do?

7   How did the people on the plane react?

8   How did the pilot explain what had happened?

What do you think might have happened next?

9   Where did they end up going?

10   Why did the pilot think they would be able to land there?

11   How did the passengers feel when they landed and what did they do?

What do you think might have happened next?

12   What were the passengers then told to do? Why?

13   What alternative were they given?

What do you think might have happened next?

14   What did the people with children all decide to do?

15   What did Clive and his family do?

16   When did Clive and his family eventually get home?


1   He was traveling to the UK from Spain. He was with his wife and two children. It was December 23rd.

2   He got a text message from his brother. It worried him because his brother mentioned that there was a terrible storm in London.

3   When they were getting close to Gatwick Airport.

4   He told them that the plane was going to circle Gatwick for a while.

5   Clive felt terrible. He thought the plane was going to crash.

6   The pilot decided not to land and went right up into the air.

7   They were frightened and some people gasped.

8   The pilot said he couldn’t land at Gatwick as it was too windy and the airport had closed.

9   Amsterdam / Holland

10   Because it was less windy and they had been given permission to land.

11   They felt very relieved and applauded.

12   They were told to stay on the plane because it was going to refuel and fly back to Gatwick.

13   They could get off the plane, but they wouldn’t get a hotel.

14   They all decided to get off the plane.

15   They stayed in a hotel at Amsterdam airport. Then they got a train to Belgium and there they got on the Eurostar to London.

16   They got home on Christmas Eve / December 24.


1 2

I was I was traveling back from Spain to the UK, I was with my family, with my wife and two young children, it was two days before Christmas, and we were traveling back to London to visit my family there. It was an evening flight, I think the flight left around 10 o’clock, and it was leaving from Valencia. The weather there was really good, but just before we were going to take off, I was just reading my, you know, the messages at the last minute and I saw there was a message from my brother, so I read it, and he was asking me whether the flight had been canceled, because he said in the message that there was a very, very bad storm in London with gale force winds. I sent a message back to him saying, well, no, actually we’re just taking off, but obviously it made me wonder what the weather was going to be like when we got there.


3 4 5

It was a two-hour flight, everything was normal, until we got to Gatwick. As we were approaching Gatwick the pilot came on and he said, “I’m sorry, we can’t land yet because there’s really bad weather here, so we’re going to circle for a while. “So the plane started circling, and then we started getting the worst turbulence I’ve ever, ever experienced. The plane just seemed to be going up in the air, then dropping, then rising up again and then dropping.” This went on for about 20 minutes. Then the pilot obviously decided he was going to have a go at landing, but as he got nearer and nearer to the ground, the wind just got stronger and stronger, and the plane was being knocked around, and I really thought, “This is it, we’re going to crash.”


6 7 8

Just at the very last moment, the pilot obviously realized that it was impossible to land and he changed his mind and the plane suddenly shot back up in the air and this was a really scary moment and a lot of people on the plane they sort of gasped in alarm. The plane started gaining height, the pilot didn’t say anything, and when we finally got up, well, really high again then he came on and he said, “I’m very sorry, but I just couldn’t land, it was too windy, and I’m afraid we can’t land at Gatwick now because the airport’s been closed. In fact I have to tell you that we can’t land anywhere in the UK because all the airports are closed.” Everyone on the plane was sort of looking at each other and I think we were all thinking, “So where are we going to land? Have we got enough petrol to land somewhere else?”


9 10 11

Well then the pilot said, “Fortunately, Amsterdam airport has said we can land there, so we’re off to Holland now.” Then we had a two-hour journey to Holland, that was OK, fairly calm, fairly normal, and then as we came in to land at Amsterdam, the pilot warned us, he said “It’s going to be windy here too, but not as bad as at Gatwick” and it was quite a good landing, little bit bumpy, and everyone was very, very relieved to get down on the ground, in fact, all the passengers applauded. We all started getting up, to be honest we couldn’t wait, you know, to get off, to get our feet on firm ground again.


12 13

But then, just as we were getting all our things from the overhead locker, one of the crew got on the loudspeaker and he said, “Well no, no, don’t get off because what’s happening now, is we’re going to refuel, and then we’re going to fly back to Gatwick. We’re going to have another try, because we think that in a couple of hours, the weather should be better at Gatwick.” And he said, “If you want to get off, you can get off, but there won’t be a hotel for you, because this plane’s going back to Gatwick.”


14 15 16

So then everyone had a bit of a dilemma, and in fact what happened was that pretty well everyone who had children, all the parents, there were a lot of children on the plane, because it was Christmas, pretty well everyone who had children got off the plane and the others stayed on. We were really happy to get off that plane and we spent the night in Amsterdam airport, and then in the morning we got a train from Amsterdam to Belgium. In Brussels, we picked up the Eurostar, and that took us through France, under the Channel, and back to London. So, after traveling all day, we finally got home around seven o’clock in the evening, just in time for the children to hang up their stockings for Christmas. Definitely the most frightening experience I’ve ever had.

Exercise 2

A. Listen to Moira, who lives in the US, describing a disastrous trip. How long did it take her to get home? Check (✓) the right answer.

 eight hours

 twelve hours

 fourteen hours

 three days

B. Listen again and answer the questions.

 What was unusual about the weather that day?

 How far is Moira’s home from her office?

 Who offered to give Moira a ride home?

 Why had so many drivers parked at the side of the road?

 What were some of the people walking along the road wearing?

 What problems did they have between 5:30 and 6:45 a.m.?

 Where did Moira tell the driver to drop her off?

 Where did Moira walk to avoid falling over?

 How did Moira get down the hill leading to her house?

10   What time was it when Moira eventually got home?



14 hours


 It was incredibly cold / -4°degrees.

 It’s 25 miles away.

 Two of her co-workers / colleagues.

 Because they were tired or they had run out of gas.

 They were wearing high heels and thin jackets.

 There were a lot of cars slipping and sliding, and trucks parked by the road. They had to go incredibly slowly. They were on a thick sheet of ice. They had to go up a long hill.

7   On the main road.

8   In the deep snow at the side of the road.

9   She sat and slid down the hill.

10   It was 7:30 in the morning.


Usually when it snows in Atlanta, the temperature hovers around freezing, and nothing much ever happens ‘cos the snow falls, but then the temperature goes up and everything melts and that’s the end of it. But this time – oh my word! I mean it started snowing at about noon and immediately, really quickly the temperature dropped to -4, which is very unusual. I was in my office, which is up on the 51st floor, and I was getting kind of worried and I looked out on the streets and saw that nothing and no one was moving in any direction. And I live in a suburb, in Marietta, about 25 miles from the office in downtown Atlanta. So, anyway at 5:30, two people, two of my co-workers who live near me told me to hurry up and ride with them, so off we went.

Eight hours later, we had literally gone three miles, just three miles, and all along the side of the freeway people had parked because they were either too tired to go any further, or they had run out of gas. Several times we actually moved out of our lane, only to find that what had stopped the car in front of us from moving was that the driver had fallen asleep at the wheel! I honestly didn’t think we’d ever get home. I mean if we’d only gone three miles in eight hours, we might not be home for three days!

Anyway, as the night wore on, I saw more and more people walking along the side of the freeway, and some of them were in high heels and thin jackets, and by this time it was, gosh, about -9. I have no idea where they were going because they were miles from anywhere.

Around 5:30 in the morning, like 12 hours after we’d left, we made it to the top of a hill, and all the way up the hill there were cars slipping and sliding, and huge trucks parked four or five parallel with the drivers sleeping, and people parked who were out of gas. It was just a thin stream of cars that was able to make it to the top of the hill, somehow sort of managing to get around all the cars that were slipping and sliding and crashing into each other. So fortunately, we made it through, but we were going incredibly slowly.

And then, to our absolute amazement, the traffic thinned out and we were able to move a bit quicker. But we still had a problem. We were able to move, but we were on a thick sheet of ice, so every vehicle on the road was a potential weapon to all the others. We had to keep our fingers crossed and drive slowly and hope no one would hit us. This continued for about 12 miles, at which point we had to go up a long hill at our exit. We had learned that hills were what did everybody in, what made them either crash or give up, and at our exit there were wrecks and empty cars and trucks everywhere, but we made it through and turned onto the road that leads to my house. It was just weird, really spooky, driving along that road for four miles at 6:45 in the morning without seeing a car or a person in any direction. I told the people I was with to drop me off on the main road because where I live is very hilly and I knew if they tried to get near the house, they’d never get away, so they let me out. But all I had on my feet was a pair of flat shoes, and I fell over seven times in quick succession until I realized that if I wanted to stop falling, I would have to walk the mile to my house in the deeper snow, on the side of the road. So up and down all those hills in my thin flat shoes I trudged through the snow and when I got near our house, I had to sit and slide down the hill! That was the only way I could get down there. I tell you I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. So, finally I stumbled in the door just as the sun was coming up at 7:30 in the morning, so it had taken me 14 hours! It really was something I’ll never forget as long as I live.

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