D4D

Talking bollocks so you don't have to.

Archive for the category “Commuting”

Signage

At the moment I seem to spend far too much of my available non-work time on the road, so I notice stuff around me.

Over the last couple of weeks one of the motorway gantries on my route (the ones with speed cameras on) has been out of action, so there’s been a small – but noticeable if you pay attention – yellow sign saying

Camera not in use

Today though, I noticed that it has changed, and now says

Camera now in use

And lo, there we go, seeing it flash on speeders.

It just struck me as interesting, the simple alteration of one letter that means so much, and changes the whole thing – and I wonder how many people notice/realise.

Inherently Useless

On my commutes, I regularly find myself bemused by the whole thing of performance cars – things like Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Aston Martins, AMG Mercedes and the like.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like the look of a lot of them, as well as the idea of fast cars. I love seeing them, and some of the stuff about them, the hand-made elements and so on. But here in the UK I just don’t really see the point of them.

I get that some of it is about showing off, that you can afford a fast car (as well as the petrol etc.) and fair play. Personally I don’t value myself by my possessions – large or small – and I don’t define myself by that perceived value, or that of the brand/marque that’s been chosen.

But regardless of whether you’ve got a shitty old Mk1 Ford Fiesta (or any other ‘low-end’ vehicle) or a £200,000 Mercedes SLS AMG, you’re legally limited to 70 mph. 80 at a push. And the run I do on a daily basis is populated with speed cameras and police, so it’s really not worth speeding past that – it’ll become a very expensive hobby, for sure.  So what’s the point of a car that can do 200mph, if it’ll never get there?

Sure, there’s other places you can speed, where there’s less cameras. But even then if you do get caught, it’s going to be expensive.

And then you get to the fuel consumption. That SLS gets 21mpg on the combined cycle – and I bet that drops like a stone if you put your foot down.

Great, you’ve got the money to make it feasible for you. I’m happy for you – not impressed, and not bothered, but it’s not for me, it’s for you.

Mind you, if you own that £200,000 car, it must really steam your piss to be overtaken by a shitty 13-year-old Saab that’s worth less than a hundredth of what your car cost…

Interesting Start

On the way to work this morning, I was confronted by road closures and the after-effects of this crash.

Fairly serious – and the damage all looked pretty grim – so I hope all are OK in it.

[Update : As it turns out, they weren't. One fatal (a motorcyclist)]

Squish (Follow On)

This year, I’ve seen a lot of roadkill – as I’ve commented before – which is at least somewhat related to going back to doing a fair amount of driving on fast roads, dual carriageways, motorways and the like.

I don’t mind that too much – although I think it’s quite sad to see it – but there’s something that bugs me about it, which is this.

No matter where the bodies are on the road – including right over by the edge and (particularly on motorways) right in the middle, near the central reservation and safety barrier, right out of the traffic lanes.  Yet within a couple of days, the bodies are flattened, all bones crushed and so on.

It’s not decomposition – OK, it could be, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t happen that fast.

All I can assume is that there’s a certain breed of driver who feel it’s acceptable (or perhaps even amusing, I don’t know) to run over the bodies, even if it means curving out of the lane, towards the crash barrier in order to do so.

And really that just boggles my little mind…

Tempting Fate

Of course, having written yesterday about how smooth my commute has been – and comparatively quicker than getting to Milton Keynes – last night’s journey was vile, and this morning’s one not much better.

Last night I saw the aftermath of more accidents than I’ve ever seen on one stretch of road.  On the M1 I saw no less than seven sets of crunched vehicles. Thankfully most of them were pretty minor, but all told they’d resulted in (and/or were the result of) about ten miles of traffic jam.  In the same journey, I saw four different lots of police who’d pulled people over – I assume for speeding.  And finally, on the other side, a rolling-roadblock in place for what appeared to just be an articulated truck travelling slowly on the hard shoulder.  (Why that required a full rolling roadblock I have NO idea!)  And of course everyone on my side had slowed down to have a look at whatever was going on – which also almost caused a couple of accidents just in what I saw around me.

This morning was just a section of the A1 that was screwed. No idea why, and no reports on radio etc., but it was just solid from the M1 into London.  Thankfully I was only on it for a fairly short stretch (about 3 miles, all told) but that short stretch took me half an hour.

I’m heading back late tonight – a small matter of seeing Neil Gaiman at the Barbican in London – so that’ll be fine for the return journey (or had bloody better be!) but I hope that type of journey is the rarity rather than the commonplace.

I’m pretty sure it will be, but fingers crossed all the same.

Time vs Distance

My new job is based in North London – which means that my daily commute is now about 40 miles instead of the 15 or so into Milton Keynes.

However, weirdly my travel time is now usually about 45-50 minutes – which is much the same as it was for the MK role. In fact it’s actually a bit less, mainly because MK at peak times is pretty much gridlocked, particularly around the key roundabouts/interchanges – of which my route went through four or five.

Now it’s a straight shot down the M1, round a tiny section of the A406 (the dreaded North Circular road) and that’s it.

Obviously if I were closer to the centre, or it involved the M25 at all, or were somewhere a bit less “on the route” then it’d be worse. But as it is, it’s working out pretty well for me so far.

I can live with that.

Location Fixation

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been thinking a lot about location – where I live, where I work, where I want to live, all that. I’ve been in the current house for two years now, and I know I’m getting a bit twitchy.

The current tenancy doesn’t expire ’til November though – due to an initial six-month one, followed by 12-month ones. As a result, I’ve had plenty of time to think about it, look at the pros and cons, and – I think – I’ve now pretty much made a decision.

As has been noted on many occasions, I’m not all that good with permanence – I like change, embrace it even. It suits me. So two years in the same place is enough to make me twitchy, to start to feel that itch in the back of my skull.

It’s not too bad at the moment though. I’ve certainly had it far, far worse than this. If I were still in the same job as well, the options would be different – I’d be needing to move on in both cases. As it is, I’ve been back on the contracting since July, and it’s kept things decently varied – which means the house side of things can relax a wee bit.

There are places I’d like to move to, some new locations and some old. (Or at least close enough to qualify as revisits) They’re more about reflecting how much life has changed in the last few years, most particularly the ability to drive, which opens up whole new vistas.

For example, I’d like to go back to the North-West, live around the Peak district somewhere. I wouldn’t live in Manchester itself again, but there’s loads of places around it that I really like. It’s still a front-runner when the move does happen.  The same applies for the South Coast, and Dorset in particular. It’s an area I love, but didn’t really get to appreciate as much as I could’ve done, because I didn’t drive. So yes, that’s also a front-runner.

There’s other places too. A revisit to Bath and/or Bristol wouldn’t be out of the question – particularly when not combined with an insane commute, ideally – and there’s new locations too. I’d consider most places, but Nottingham and Derby have always been good to me, and there’s a whole heap of other places. (Plus a long-standing idea to sod off to somewhere like Cork)

However, right now there’s also a bigger plan in place. Rebuilding after the bankruptcy, seeing what comes next, as well as looking at work and finances and what the hell I want to do/be when I grow up. There’s ideas on that score, but I need to have the time and inclination to do something about them. Time I’ve got. Inclination? Less so, right now. But that’s a post for another day.

I could move, sure. But practicality-wise, where I am right now is pretty much perfect for me right now. It’s not a long-term location, but for now it’s good. I’ve got all the transport links I need – my commuting radius for work covers an insane amount of miles. It makes my contractor life a lot easier. Location isn’t in many (if any) of those calculations I have to do. For me, right now, that’s an important factor, and outweighs pretty much everything else.

Financially, it’s easy. If I move North then the odds are that my rent would drop. But for where I am, for what I’ve got right now, I couldn’t do much better. I’d like some extra space, an extra room or two – but it’s not something that’s necessary right now either.

All told, while I would kind-of like to move, I don’t need to move. And staying put has its advantages too – location, money, blah blah.

That means that – in the lack of a good reason for moving other than “But I want to” – I’ve decided I’m going to plan to stay where I am for the next eighteen months. The six months from now for the current tenancy, and then extend it by another twelve.

Of course, the landlord might decide to sell up or something, or work may throw up something that makes me have to move. Neither option is likely, but they could happen. But short of those kind of eventualities, I’m going to face up to things, and not move.

By that time – November 2015 – I’ll have been in this place for three and a half years. Then I think it’ll be time to move on – or at least move up. If my work is still keeping me based in a way that the current location is still OK then I’ll just look at moving to a bigger place locally. If things change or work isn’t a limitation (I can work from pretty much anywhere, after all) then it might be a big location change too. We’ll see.

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