Twenty minutes before closing time on Saturday, Asda cafe manager Susan Fisher was getting ready to go home when there was an unexpected rush of last-minute customers – including a film crew and a canary!
The production crew of Peaky Blinders were among those seeking refuge in the Asda car park after the A96 Glens road to Aberdeen was closed due to snow drifts. They'd been on the road all day and needed a hot meal – and a hot water bottle for the canary who was travelling with them.
Susan kept the cafe open to make sure everyone who was stranded could get something hot to eat. She single-handedly served 16 separate groups.
The road was closed between Huntly and Inverurie after 3pm on Saturday afternoon and, when conditions worsened, it was announced it would stay closed overnight.
Checkouts colleague Tracy Bean and Covid safety marshal Finn Mulligan were also busy helping stranded drivers and customers, taking orders for food, carrying meals out to the car park and even arranging emergency accommodation for those who needed it.
Tracy got in touch with Di Mitchell, who arranged for the nearby Castle Hotel to open up for the night, and a local community organisation, COTAG, laid on 4x4 transport to take people from Asda to the hotel.
The video below, filmed by Finn, shows conditions in the area on the road from Keith to Asda Huntly after it re-opened:
"The weather's been pretty bad up here for the past week and a half" said Susan. "The Glens road just outside Huntly was closed and when that's shut there's no other way to Aberdeen, you're totally shut off.
"We normally close the cafe at 5 o'clock on Saturday but about 20 minutes before closing I noticed lots of people coming in asking for meals. That's when I heard the road was shut so I stayed open and was serving food until 9pm. Obviously people couldn't sit down because of Covid restrictions but they were understanding and they were very happy to get a meal.
"I put an announcement out on the tannoy that the cafe was staying open and colleagues went round cars in the car park letting people know and taking orders. We served 16 groups of people - lots of steak pies, a pizza, sausage chips and beans and Kids Eat Free meals for one family who were stranded with two young boys and a baby.
"We served the crew of Peaky Blinders too, although I didn't realise who they were until Finn came in asking me to fill up a hot water bottle. I said, "Do they have kids with them?" and he said "No - it's for the canary!".
Finn, who took the hot water bottle request, said: "Asda is on the way out of Huntly and it's the most convenient place to stop if the road's closed.
"The canary was in a cage on the heated seat of the car – it looked like quite a pampered canary! I didn't recognise anyone famous, so I think they were all crew."