Alfie: Driving on!

23 Feb

So far this week I have driven over 400 miles in two separate trips of 200 miles or more – something of a first for me given that I’m not used to doing more than a twenty five mile each way trip to work.

The first excursion was last Sunday (my birthday) and as a special treat I was allowed to transport Mrs Alfie and our recently divorced friend “Sue from Cambridge” to Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 from where they were flying off on a 5 day trip to the USA that they are now halfway through. They have gone to Boston (pronounced “Barston” in the regional dialect of North Eastern American English) to visit Sue’s daughter who is doing some work towards her Cambridge University Doctorate at Harvard and Sue didn’t want to go on her own.

It took me just 2 hours on Sunday morning to get them there for the required “3 hours before take off” target   – even with the world’s largest circular car park (the M25) involved – and another 2 hours to get home.  The home trip was easier given that I didn’t have a deadline and I was able actually to look about me as I worked around the constantly changing speed limits and road works of the London Orbital Creep Way.

I was only 2 junctions from Heathrow on the way back when I spotted a railway bridge across the entire motorway. It turns out my elder daughter had seen it a year earlier and had photographed it (from the passenger seat, of course!) – the words read “GIVE PEAS A CHANCE”

My second big trip was on Tuesday when, for the first time ever, my younger daughter expressed a wish to try a spot of sea fishing! I was happy to do this with her as some readers may be aware that this is my favourite pastime but Peterborough is (until a couple more inches of the polar icecaps melt anyway) too far inland for this to be a realistic hobby. Also, it is unfortunate that the nearest piece of coast (The Wash) is absolutely rubbish when it comes to catching anything and we therefore plumped for the 110 mile trip down the A1 and A14 to my old stamping ground of Felixstowe.

As this isn’t about my fishing prowess (or the lack of it) I will just say that we both caught a few, thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and actually got a little bit sunburned while Peterborough basked in a more seasonal drizzle! Then I drove 100 miles back home again.

And, tying this in with the bridge mentioned above there was an oddity that I noticed on that trip too. On the approaches to Ipswich on the A14 there have been erected three or four of the large matrix message boards of the kind commonly seen on motorways telling you to “take a break” or “speed kills” . I have, incidentally, only been told by others about the latter sign – I’m usually going MUCH too fast to read it!

Anyway these signs, which I assume are to tell Felixstowe-bound trucks when the container port is closed due to bad weather, have now been there since last summer and I don’t know if they just haven’t been plugged in yet or if someone has simply forgotten about them. Whatever the reason they never light up but each of them has a small yellow placard affixed to the base of the gantry reading “SIGN NOT IN USE”!

As my daughter pointed out these yellow boards are very difficult to read and it would be much more effective if they switched the damned things on and displayed said message there! No wonder Local Authorities are in such a mess if they can’t think of simple solutions like that!

I now have one more day of comparative leisure before the next road trip – I have to meet the British Airways flight from Boston that gets in at Heathrow at 7.30 pm on Friday and quite how I time THAT trip to take into account rush hour on the M25 as well as the indeterminate time my dear wife will take to recover her bags and get through customs, while still paying as little as possible in the short-stay car park remains to be seen!

ANOTHER 200 mile round trip – ‘tis a good job petrol isn’t over £1.25 a litre right now…….oh, wait…. it IS! Damn!



3 Responses to “Alfie: Driving on!”

  1. Alfie February 24, 2011 at 11:00 pm #

    Actually you wouldn’t want it spread over the entire bridge because only the lanes of traffic going under the left arch can read it without taking their eyes off the road for more than a fraction of a second – not a good idea on the M25!


  2. Vincent February 25, 2011 at 5:55 am #

    I do WISH that “peas” was INTENDED – but I sadly suspect that like so many today – the twit simply couldn’t SPELL!

    Re symmetry – I used to like those signs which said “THINK AHEAD” – but the last few letters were SQUEEZED together, to make them fit!

    And speaking of signs – I may have reported this elsewhere – but I had a laugh recently, at the story about a dual-language Council sign (one of those where they affix plastic letters, then laminate the thing) in Wales that said, in English, “all deliveries round the back, except on Sundays…” (or something mundane like that) and in WELSH, “I’m not in the office right now, but if you fax me the piece needed to be translated…”

    Got a BIG chortle from the Welsh-speakers, that did!

  3. Alfie February 25, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

    Not entirely off-subject, my elder daughter who is accompanying me on this afternoon/evening’s little jaunt to pick her mum up from Heathrow has just asked me:
    “Why in this country do we drive on a Parkway and park on a Driveway?”

    That probably doesn’t make much sense except in Peterborough where there is an amazing network of dual-carriageway roads all called “Parkways” – these partly make up for the rest of the place being a complete craphole!

    Anyway, back at the question as asked. Answers on a postcard please…..


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