Mar 24 2012

I like driving in my car…

… it’s not quite a Jag-u-ar.

But it’s starting to get expensive.  The news tells us that fuel prices have reached a record high and, filling up yesterday, I can confirm that: it was the most I have ever paid for a tank of fuel. Ever.

And I have a big service coming up. Well, the car does, not me. Obviously.

And I keep looking at the wear on the back tyres and wondering how much longer they are going to last.

I haven’t checked, but I bet road tax went up in the Budget. And my car insurance will likely rise next year, as it always does.

Surely, at some point it’s going to become economically non-viable for me to run a car – unless I downsize to a Renault Clio or something (shudder).

But all this cost just adds to the joy and experience of driving.

There’s nothing like getting on the open road and putting your foot down, radio blaring and the wind from the open window blowing your hair as you grimace and wince as each. and. every. pothole. jars your spine, knackers your suspension and dents your alloys.

Speed cameras lurk around every corner, giving that unexpected thrill of  “Did it flash me or not?”

And then there’s the inevitable roadworks. Almost any journey on Britain’s roads today will involve spending some nice relaxing time sat in a sea of brightly coloured cones. It’s a  good time to de-stress, as you safely inch along at two miles an hour. And did you know that Britain is the cone capital of the world? Yes, we have more cones protecting our roads and making them safer than there are in the rest of the world put together.*

There is some major roadworks going on where the motorway passes through my neck of the woods. Traffic has been slowed to a safe and relaxing speed there for months, but they have just finished rebuilding junction 12 and earlier this week I decided to give it a try to see how much it had improved.

For years, early morning rush hour traffic has backed up along the B579, as turning right there to get on the motorway was made very difficult by the flow of traffic. But now, with the newly designed junction, they’ve thoughtfully put in some traffic lights to allow the B579 traffic to get out. I sat there on Monday morning and found that getting out was even slower than before. This is because they have cleverly phased the lights to allow you more time to sit there, take in the gorgeous surroundings and listen to Radio 2. I timed the lights (I had the time):

Red: 58 seconds

Green: 6 seconds

You don’t get many cars out in six seconds. Damn clever of them.

Anyway, better go. Gotta wash the car.


PS. I bet you’ve got Madness in your head now.

* I made up that particular fact. It’s probably true though.

In other news, this is most amusing.


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  1. Dave

    I want to go to a computer fair today cos I need some ink cartridges. They are cheaper than in the shops, but it’s going to cost about a tenner in petrol even though it ain’t that far away. Don’t know whether it’s worth the bother now.

  2. Masher

    That’s why they invented Amazon, Dave.

  3. Robert Mark Pewty

    In my capacity as a keen roadworks observer, particularly around the M1 corridor(Southeren section) I would like to correct you on a few small but somehow I feel important points.

    The re construction of junction 12 is not finished, in fact even to the partial observer of roadwork activity it should be noticed that the actual new bridge span over the MI does not even reach the Harlington Road side yet, could you imagine the mess on a Monday morning if the Highways Agency read your blog and because of it opened up the bridge, it would be carnage, so I would suggest you always check your facts about roadworks before you put the lives of thousands of Bedfordshires motorists at risk of potential plummeting injuries.

    Secondly, you have also refered to difficulty in turning right off the B579 to join the motorway at Junction 12, well I’m not surprised you are encountering problems as the B579 in fact joins the High Street in Toddington some distance from Junction 12. I think you may be confusing the B579 with the B530 which does join the Junction 12 complex, an easy mistake to make I grant you but one that could cause delays and ultimately mean you could miss an important appointment with your proctologist for example.

    It may be wise to chack the accuracy of your SAT NAV as these devices although hailed as High Tech can be known to fail, maybe think of investing in a good old trusty map. ( Many styles are available on Amazon at reasonable prices)

    On to Cones, Indeed the juctions traffic flow has be altered to safely accomodate the construction of the new junction and that has meant the use of many gaily coloured traffic cones to guide the motorised traveller through the junction and ” I’m convinced they’re a major contribution to road safety”

  4. Masher

    Sir Robert, if only I’d spoken to you before I wrote this.
    You are, of course, correct in that junc 12 isn’t finished. I just got carried away because both the new sliproads are now open.
    I would take you to task over whether the road is the B530 or the B579 as I stated, because I did actually check that on a map. However, as you have Sprat-Nav in your back pocket, my claim would quite obviously fall to the ground.

  5. Brennig

    I’m driving from OX28 to either Bedford or Chicksands every day. And back again, obv. It’s a fun little drive. Except for the ‘going through Milton Keynes’ bit, because everyone in Milton Keynes can’t drive.

    But it is an expensive game; driving. I could take the train. Except we don’t have a train station here, any more. Or a train line. And, including the drive in to Oxford’s very expensive Park and Ride, the journey would take me an eight-hour round-trip, against a three-hour round trip by car. And by rail it would cost three times as much as it does by car.

    So not too much choice at all really. Until that wanker David Cameron sells off the roads to Crapita or Mouchel or someone.

  6. Masher

    Bren – Ah, Chicksands. But a stone’s throw from here. Almost. I remember doing a job there some time ago when it was still full of Americans. Great fun.
    Yes, thanks to our crappy public transport system, the government and the fuel companies have us over the proverbial barrel.

    Arthur… sorry, I mean Robert – It looks like I can take you to task after all, sir! The road I referred to in my post was indeed the B579. I checked on the way home and both my sat-nav and the road sign stated it as being such.
    Yah boo to you, with bells on.
    For once.

  7. Robert Mark Pewty

    How sad that you doubt the validity of Sprat-

  8. Robert Mark Pewty

    Nav, after all the assistance it has provided you over the years, who can forget the Woolwich ferry incident.

    To examine your retort, Firstly the road sign at the Junction 12 location, indicating Luton Fancott Chalton, does it show the (B579) in brackets?

    I think you’ll find it does, this indicates that this road goes to Luton via the B579, Indeed if you observe the road sign further down this road where it meets the B579 the road sign there shows it as the B530.

    Secondly, your Sat Nav…. believable? doesn’t your Sat nav suddenly start speaking in French, no not believable at all.

    As a belt and braces exersize this is the AA’s routeplan Chalton to Flitwick.

    Start 0.01 Turn left onto Luton Road – B579 B579 0.01
    1.27 Turn right onto the B530 B530 1.29
    1.17 Turn right onto the A5120 A5120 2.46
    0.59 At roundabout take the 1st exit onto the A5120 (signposted Westoning, Flitwick) A5120

    I rest my case.

  9. Masher

    Alright, alright. Having examined the evidence further and after consulting with an expert witness (Google Maps) I concede.

    I will never doubt you again.

    We will always have the Woolwich Ferry.

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