D4D

If brains were dynamite, you might just have enough to blow your nose.

Archive for the category “Driving”

Long Week

So far, it’s felt like a very long – and really quite unproductive – week in many ways.

I was away over the weekend, and while driving back on Sunday, the car died on me near Leeds. No power-steering, idiot-lights galore – and all while travelling at 80-ish in the outside lane of the M1. That definitely focusses the mind somewhat.

I got over to the hard shoulder immediately, and stopped. Called my insurance company – who also do the recovery part – and got it organised. I knew it was 99.9% likely to need recovery, so they sorted it out and that all went really smoothly. They’d predicted up to 90 minutes before the recovery got there, and they turned up within half an hour.

Apparently, I got lucky – my recovery part includes “Get me home”, rather than the more standard “nearest garage, and then pay through the nose for anything else” policy. So I got one truck that took me back to Milton Keynes in one go (no Relay crap either, thankfully) and dropped the car off at the Saab garage locally, and then I got a cab home. Not cheap, but could’ve been so much worse.  According to the recovery driver, if it’d been the normal policy, it would’ve cost me around £500 to get the car home…  I broke down at 1.30, and was back in Milton Keynes at 6.00, and home by 7.00.  Not at all bad, all things considered.

While I was waiting to be picked up, I’d also organised a replacement hire car – which also reminds me yet again how great smartphones and apps can be, sat by the side of a motorway booking a hire car – that I collected on Monday before heading off to Chesham to be on-site again.  All fine. Hassle-filled, but fine.

After doing a bundle of driving and so on, I got home about 9pm, and parked up.

And on the Tuesday, by 7am the battery was completely flat and the hire car wouldn’t start at all. Cue a three-hour farce with the AA not sending anyone when they said they would, and making an utter bollock of the entire process. Not helped by using the hire-firm as an intermediary (although they handled it fine, it was just the AA being useless) but still. I finally got sorted at mid-day.

So yes, it took the AA three hours to find a known address and fix the problem (Epically flat battery, although we don’t yet know why – apparently Fiat couldn’t find any issues with it) where it only took four-and-a-half for another company to find me on a motorway, and drive 180-ish miles. Safe to say, I won’t be putting any money in the AA’s direction any time soon.

Along the way, the Saab was fixed on the Monday – the power-steering belt, which also powers a number of other bits, had snapped, and it was just that part which required replacement. So, a bill of £85 all-in, including VAT, labour and parts. Could’ve been *so* much worse…

The rest of the week has just been busy and ridiculous, and doesn’t really feel like it’s stopped at all. With luck it’ll ease up now for the weekend – but then, this is me, so what’re the chances?  Low-to-sod-all , I’d say…

More Travel

As I’ve said many, many times before, I can be a bit of an idiot – particularly when it comes to what I regard as ‘doable’ for travelling etc.

Today has proven that yet again.  Well, I’ve organised it all today, but it’s happening on Saturday.

Over the weekend, I saw some really good reviews and opinions about the production of King Lear that’s currently going on at Manchester’s Royal Exchange, with Don Warrington as Lear.  So today I had a look at whether there were any tickets still available.

Turns out, there were. Not many, but enough for me to book one to see it on Saturday afternoon.  And that’s what I’m doing.

I’ve also (in the name of something approaching a sensible idea) booked myself on trains to get up there and back. But I did seriously think about driving, too. A 350-mile round trip to see a play. Like I said, an absolute idiot.

The reason I’m not making a weekend of it is because I’m also in London on the Sunday – although not ’til the evening – for another hopefully epic meal.

I am indeed an idiot, and quite possibly a lunatic.

Foggy Roads

After the gig on Monday, the drive home was one of the nastiest I’ve had in a long time – all the roads were covered in super-thick fog, which made the entire endeavour a lot tougher and slower than it would usually be. Thankfully, it was all a route I know really well – without that, I think it would’ve been even slower and I wouldn’t have known where the hell I was at any point.

The fog was so thick, in general I could only see about three cats-eyes ahead of me, so the concentration was ridiculous the entire way.

The other plus was that the roads were a lot quieter than they could have been – although the great majority of the people who were out were desperately bad at driving in fog, which really wasn’t ideal.

Still, it all passed peacefully and without any extra nastiness, so that’s got to be a bonus. It could have been so much worse along the way…

Going Back

When I went back to Reading over the weekend, I also took the opportunity to stop off in Bracknell.

There was a vague kind of logic/sense here, in that I expected Reading itself to be solid, through having road closures etc. going on for the half-marathon itself, plus usual Sunday shoppers and so on, so it made more sense to get to somewhere else, and then train into Reading. I knew Wokingham station’s car-park is a bit of a cluster-chuff at the moment, so I went for Bracknell instead. And as things turned out, that worked really well.

Of all the places I’ve lived, Bracknell was probably the one I liked least. (I just tried writing ‘the most least-liked’, but that’s a phrase to make eyeballs bleed) I’m not a great fan of most of the area – I don’t mind Wokingham and Windsor, but the rest I could happily never really visit  again.  So it was also a chance to see if Bracknell had improved at all, or if I still disliked it.

First things first, there’s a whole new roundabout and housing estate on the approach to Bracknell, which was quite a surprise. I’d thought I knew where I was going – and I kind of did – but that did come up as a bit of a shock. (Even more so, as it also didn’t come up on the SatNav) I can’t imagine the driven commute between Bracknell and Wokingham/Reading was any fun at all while all that was going on.

Other than that, there’s a lot of regeneration work going on in the centre of Bracknell, which I didn’t get the chance to have a proper look at.  It wasn’t that high in my priority list – mainly because I’m still pretty sure nothing short of flattening it and starting again will do anything positive for the place.

Obviously I didn’t get to see all of Bracknell, but then, nor did I massively want to. The bits I saw were more than enough to convince me it’s still a scabrous shitpit, and definitely somewhere I’d never want to go back to for anything more than a couple of hours. In that context, it’s fine – much more than that kind of timescale, though, and it just becomes some kind of self-inflicted torture…

Seasonal Transitional

This time of year is hard for me.  A lot of it is related to the change of the seasons, the transition between winter and spring/summer, the weather, and the resultant effect on my depression.

It’s weird, really. Through the winter, I expect the grey days and the lack of sunlight – it’s par for the course, and I’m used to handling it, fighting against depression and not wanting to go out.  I get as much daylight as possible – currently helped by my office facing big windows, which maximises things, and walking at lunchtime – and basically just get through Winter the best I can.

Come spring though, things change. Days get longer, we have more hours of sunlight, and I know that the easier time is coming – but it’s not here yet. I’m tired from having kept the depression at bay all winter, and it hits me harder now as a result. I just don’t have the energy by now to keep on fighting with it. It’s the time when I completely lack motivation, and could happily stay in bed a lot longer, not wanting to get up.

I still do get up, and get things done. I make plans – not always conscious plans, but because I’m aware of the upcoming Glums, I make plans ahead of time, sometimes without realising just why I’m making them for that time. I still do stuff, and get on with it. But it’s definitely a lot harder than usual (as the actress said to the bishop) and a rough period.

It’s not helped by being (or at least feeling) greyer than usual. Yes, it’s getting light – but the last couple of weeks, it’s just been bright grey, with fairly thick mists and fogs most mornings. Again, a facet of the season, but one I find particularly tough to deal with. I’m OK with it being dark when I get up, I’m better with it being light and sunny when I get up. But this grey crap in between the two is just draining.

I’ll be OK. I’m used to this crap, and I can generally deal with it. I’m affected by it, but I won’t admit defeat to it.

Given a couple of weeks – usually once the clocks go forward at the end of the month – things will start to come back. But March is just a bit cruddy, with drained energy levels, and more blah than usual as a result.

Another Quiet Week

This week has been another ‘quiet’ week – or at least one where I don’t seem to have stopped long enough to do a decent post. Which means ‘quiet’ here and… less so in reality.

It started off well – driving home on Monday from a long weekend in Dorset. A ‘quiet’ ‘break’ that resulted in 600ish miles of driving – but also enough necessary downtime and peace to have made it worthwhile.  In fairness I could’ve split the driving, or whatever, but it’s never the driving that tires me, so *shrug*

The place in Dorset will definitely be re-visited though – it was great, and all told thoroughly enjoyable.

The rest of Monday was less fun – once I’d got home I started feeling pretty rotten, and ended up having a sleep on the sofa. Felt a bit better when I woke up, but rapidly got worse again, and ended up with gastric explosions of an epic standard. At least it had the good grace to wait til I got home, rather than expelling my innards into a hire-car.  Thankfully, there was only the one major dollop, so I was able to sleep etc.

Tuesday was a day on-site with my current client – could’ve done without it, but needs must and all that.

Wednesday and Thursday were back to almost-normal, but also included taking the bloody Saab back to the garage (another Engine Management light issue, which was why I had the hire care for the weekend) and going to the cinema, as well as a day where it seemed like people were all trying to kill me. (More of that in another post, perhaps)

And now Friday, and back on-site, as the boss is then away for two weeks.

And that, my friends, is a ‘quiet week’…

150,000

Last night, during another daft day-trip drive, the Saab went over the 150,000 mile mark, just over three years since I bought it.

At that time, it had 74,000 miles on it, so I’ve doubled its mileage in three years. And one full year of that has been on much shorter commutes than usual, so it’s quite impressive all round.

Of course, I’ve been doing more daft long journeys and day-trips, which helps add the mileage on.

As I’ve written before, it’s been more annoying and a bit less reliable over the last six weeks or so (and how the hell are we only six weeks into 2016? I’ve done so much, I can’t believe it’s fitted into six weeks!) but hopefully all is now back to normal.

The problems have all been related – from the look of it, at least – to the turbo, and thus to the replacement turbo I had last year. I suspect that having a new and fully-working fresh turbo has perhaps added more pressure than the old (original) pipes and hoses can handle, so they’ve split or leaked, which has led to the issues.

Anyway, that’s another milestone achieved by the Saab. I hope we’ll get to the next one, whatever that may be…

 

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