A GROUP of local dancers are back home safe and sound after being caught up the weather chaos which gripped the country last week.
The group of eight girls from the Gordon School of Dancing, accompanied by principal Robina Addison, were stranded in northern France for two days while Scotland's airports were closed.
They had left for Bezu in Normandy, on Friday, November 26, just before the severe weather hit Scotland to perform at a St Andrew's Day ceilidh, a standing engagement they have kept for the last six years.
While there was no sign of snow in Bezu, the rapidly deteriorating conditions in this country meant they were stranded in the town for two days.
Luckily, the host families with whom they were staying were happy to accommodate them until they managed to catch a flight home.
Mrs Addison said: "There was nothing over there at all. It was very cold but there was no snow.
"We flew out of Edinburgh and it was snowing when we left but we didn't envisage the chaos because generally, in this area, it's not too bad - a day or two and it has disappeared.
"We were due to return at the start of the week, but when we got to the airport in Beauvais we were just turned away because Edinburgh airport was closed and we couldn't fly into Prestwick as there were no flights that day. Fortunately our host families took us back, as they did the next day again.
"We went back and were told the same thing again - the departure boards just listed everything as cancelled."
It was third time lucky for the group and they managed to catch a flight to Prestwick, via Dublin, last Wednesday, but further delays due to the weather in Ireland meant they missed their last connecting train after they arrived back in Scotland.
Mrs Addison said: "The minibus company which took us down didn't want to venture out on to the roads at night so we spent the night in a hotel outside Prestwick.
"The bus came for us on Thursday afternoon and while it wasn't too bad there we realised how bad it really was when we headed further north. It was extremely bad when we got to Stirling and it took us about four-and-a-half hours to get home, about twice as long as it should have.
"We weren't worried about being stuck indefinitely, but getting back to the UK was a bit of a worry because we were staying with families who were taking us back and forward and we didn't want to out-stay our welcome.
"Everyone was in good spirits although it was a bit tedious waiting in Dublin Airport. We were there all day and once we got on the plane they closed the runways again and we had to wait for around an hour."
The girls managed to stay in touch with their parents by mobile 'phone throughout the trip and although one of the group missed a planned birthday party, an impromptu celebration was organised in Bezu instead.
Mrs Addison added: "There was a nice 'welcome home' banner in Academy Square for us when we got back. It wouldn't be a proper trip without a bit of excitement and at least everyone was warm and safe."