D4D

Like handing a monkey a sledgehammer and letting it loose in a bomb factory

Archive for the category “Driving”

Staying In

Today, I chose to stay home rather than driving in what was supposed to be terrible weather. I made the choice when I was about to leave for the office, and there was a significant amount of snow coming down, at which “Sod that!” became the decision.  (This is also related to the fact that all roads from my place to work are uphill, and last time it was like this, the roads were paralysed because dickheads couldn’t drive up them safely)

As it turned out, the warnings – for this area, at least – were unfounded. I could have got in OK, and got home.  We’re an exception to the rule, admittedly – but I would’ve been OK.

All the same, I’m glad I stayed home. I’m happier to have been here, rather than the regular checking for weather changes, and wondering whether I’d get home or not (with the news having been suitably hysterical about the entire thing all day)  so all told it’s been a lot easier on the mind than doing the travelling.

I’ll almost certainly go in as usual tomorrow and Friday, although we’ll see what happens on each overnight, and re-assess based on that.

 

Booking Time Out – Week One

I wrote a while back about how I’d managed to book some time out this year, and intended to take it.

Last week was the first of those weeks, and I spent it with friends down on the south coast – which was pretty good, all things considered. I got very lucky with the weather – while it was cold and windy, that’s not unexpected in mid-February. And while we spent a lot of it walking dogs on beaches, I didn’t put a coat on once. (That’s more because I’m an idiot, and pretty warm generally. Everyone else was bundled up like an unwell Michelin man)  Considering that this week is all about the snowfall and ‘Siberian weather’, I reckon the timing was pretty fortuitous.

All told, it was a good week (well, five days) away. I still ended up doing some work, because of urgency and being swamped with requests, so it was easier to just get things done while everyone else was asleep, but that was fine, and didn’t take up too much time. It would’ve taken up more headspace if I’d left things unfixed until my return today, which meant it was all a bit of a balancing act, but one I feel worked out pretty well in the end.

And now it’s back to ‘normal’ until May, when the next one comes round.  And between now and then I’ve got a sod-load of stuff to do and organise, including making sure everything is in place for the May trip!

Booking Time Out

At the end of 2017 (and of 2016, and of 2015 – I know, I know) I said about needing to take more time out, take some breaks from work and so on.

I am rotten at taking time off – it’s never been high on my driving factors, and really it just ends up being expensive, and me just spending time on my own somewhere else.  And with all that, I find it way too easy to put off booking holidays and time away, it’s such a low priority that it always falls off the bottom of the list of things to do.

So this year, I’ve booked stuff already. I’ve got three breaks locked in, booked and paid for.  One in February, one in May, and one in November.

It’ll be interesting to see, come the end of 2018, whether I feel better for having those breaks or not.  I’m not sure, but I’m going to give it all a go, and find out.

Parking Penalties

Way back at the start of November, I went to a restaurant in Cambridge, and parked up in a marked parking area where you either displayed a ticket, or used an online payment app. There was a sign saying “Maximum stay 2 hours“, but nothing about “no return within [x] hours” or anything.  I paid using the RingGo app on my phone, and decided that if I exceeded that 2 hour limit, I’d simply buy another ticket via RingGo.

Anyway, the meal took a lot longer than the two hours – but when it came to the time, I started to get another ticket, only to be told “No return within an hour” by the app – the first time it had been mentioned anywhere. (The parking was too far from the restaurant for a “quick dash” to pay cash for a new ticket, as wellBollocks, thought I.

Once the hour was done, I got another ticket (yes, the meal went on that long) but I was pretty sure I’d have a ticket when I got back to the car.

And I did.  I also re-checked the signs, and took a photo of them, to prove there was nothing about the return clause on the signage.  Once I got home, I paid the ticket – I couldn’t argue that it had been issued correctly, after all! – and then appealed it, becaue of the lack of information and signage.  Despite information on the website saying I could (and indeed should) pay and then appeal, immediately it started throwing problems of “You’ve paid this, so can’t appeal it” and so on.

I ended up getting in touch with Cambridgeshire Parking by email, explaining the situation, that the signage and app made no mention at all of the ‘no return’ clause, including the photos and screenshots. And once it was sent, I waited. And waited.

Two weeks later they came back, saying “It says about no return on the ticket machine. Appeal denied”.  And that was pretty much it. Nothing else about how to appeal a decision to an independent review (which, according to the website, should be provided every time an appeal is denied) or anything else. So I wrote back, explaining the situation again, that I’d gone nowhere near a ticket machine – having paid online – so never saw the one place they say the clause is detailed.

Another two weeks, and another “Nope. It says it on the ticket machine. You should’ve checked. Appeal denied” response. (Admittedly I’m paraphrasing – but not by all that much!)  And still no information about how to take it to an independent adjudicator.

Eventually though, just before Christmas, I ended up speaking to a manager. My sense of humour had utterly failed, I’d escalated it to a full-on complaint, and got the call.

The entire situation is ridiculous. In order to get the information about the adjudicator, I’d have to get my initial paid fine refunded, let the council go through DVLA to find the vehicle owner, send me a formal notice, then I could appeal it, get denied, and get the information about the adjudicator. Which might take up to three more months. Utterly, utterly farcical.  But still, I was prepared to do it – not for the money, but simply for the fact that Cambridgeshire Council seem to think that it’s OK to not provide the information, and then fine drivers who haven’t actually walked to the ticket machine.

Anyway. Common-sense finally kicked in. The fine will be refunded, and they’ve accepted that signage (and app information) needs to be improved.  The manager still insisted that “no signage mentions the no return clause, that’s a national thing” and so on, but there’s going to be a review.

The real icing on the cake for that, though, was that after two months of dealing with this, I was back in Cambridge the following day, and parked at a different piece of on-street parking.  And lo and behold, on the information for that one, the signs say about the no return clause, and so does the app.  Which means it’s definitely about inconsistent information within the council, rather than my being utterly wrong.

And yes, I did re-email the manager to tell them that as well…

Palindromic

Over the weekend, I saw this mileage figure coming up, and when it happened, I pulled in (safely) to get a picture of it.

Because sometimes I’m just that sad…

Snowbound

Yesterday, the weather effectively enforced a day off for me, doing nothing outside.  Nothing major, but we had a fair amount (for the UK) of snow overnight, which led to lots of issues with accidents, blocked roads, etc. etc.  For my own village, the two main roads out were completely blocked – one by a jack-knifed lorry, and the other just by drivers failing to get up the hills.

So technically it wasn’t the weather itself, so much as the sheer number of people who can’t bloody drive in snow. But still, day off.

In honesty, it was much needed. As I’ve said before, I’ve been ridiculously busy for the last two years – I’ve just counted up, and I’ve had stuff booked in for 48 weeks of 2017 (I’ve counted up til the end of the month) and even on those four ‘free’ ones I was still doing stuff – and December hadn’t provided any real change in that.  That’s nothing short of barmy.

So anyway, I’d spent Saturday in London with a mix of food and theatre stuff, so it’s not like it’s been a write-off of a weekend, or anything like that. But a day of doing sod-all – barely going outside, catching up on recorded TV etc., doing some reading, etc. etc. – was definitely A Good Plan.

Whether I feel better for it is still to be determined, but regardless, it was a good day.

Another Daft One

The weekend just gone was another in my long list of silly (but enjoyable) ones, with a fair amount of driving. (Well, that’s no shock)

Saturday was spent in London, with a good friend, M. We had lunch at Mere (Monica Galetti’s new restaurant), which I’ve been to far too many times this year since it’s opening night in March – but it was M’s first time, and it was (as always) great.   From there, we walked down to the London Coliseum, but took a small detour to the Fitzrovia Chapel, which I’d found on a previous visit, and is fabulous. We were lucky there, as it was closed for events and so on, but the member of the events team who opened the door let us pop in quickly to look at the place, and was lovely.

Then we went down to the Coliseum, to see the ENO’s production of Aida , and then we split and went home. A very good day.

Sunday was the sillier of the two – a flying day-trip up to see other friends just outside Manchester, leaving the house at 6am and not getting back til midnight. But again, it was worth it – it was the last chance I’d got to see them this year, and I’m really glad I took the chance to do so.

I was knackered by the time I got home, but it was absolutely worth the effort and time. So yes, a good weekend all round.

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