As the weather stopped colleagues getting into work, Backchat's office was three short a couple of Mondays ago. But he thinks himself lucky compared to Towergate, which had at least 130 people missing for the entire day.

The Towergate staff had been part of a four-coach load of employees away for a weekend of company bonding in Lille, France. The return journey proved difficult. Although one coach made it back on an earlier ferry and bosses Peter Cullum and Paul Dyer had taken the Eurostar and got back safely, three coaches got stuck on the Channel, unable to dock at Dover because of the storms.

The company bonding continued for 18 hours (free food and soft drinks provided by the ferry operator) until the ferry could finally dock, keeping all 130 off work all day Monday.

Backchat understands that previous trips have been to UK amusements parks, a much safer, if less exciting, option.