D4D

Talking bollocks so you don't have to.

Archive for the category “Commuting”

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.

The Next Step

This last week, I’ve been working from home – which is something I usually enjoy, but it’s not been overly assisted by feeling like rubbish, and somewhat demotivated.

Alongside that, for whatever reason, the cats have been super-demanding and really whingy, which has pissed me off more than it should.

All told, it’s meant I haven’t got as much done this week as I should’ve done, so it’s time to do things differently.

I’ve been aware of ‘co-working’ spaces/offices for a few years now, but never really felt the need to make use of them. I did look at them quite seriously when I had the possibility of the long-term ‘working from home’ gig earlier this year (which fell through) so I had some decent contacts.

As it turns out a couple of new ones have opened up quite near me in Milton Keynes. One in particular is ridiculously priced (as in ridiculously low) so I’m going to give that a go this coming week. Four days for £30 all in. I can live with that.

Of course, I still need to find out what the catch is. (If there is one) But if it works out and I like the place, it might be worth my while to make use of it for longer (depending on what other projects come up, naturally)  Looking at the costs, it could cost me £80 for the whole of May, which is pretty insane…

We’ll see how the first week goes. But this could be the start of the next step up the ladder, having a place to work from for myself…

Parking Mad

At the moment, the BBC has a documentary series on about Traffic Wardens (Parking Agents, Collection Agents, whatever else you want to call them) called “Parking Mad” and it’s been pretty interesting.

What I find most interesting is the people who don’t pay their parking fines, then get all snotty and sweary about it when the costs for it go up and up.

No matter how paranoid you are, I think the great majority of parking wardens just give tickets to people who’ve overstayed their tickets, not bothered, or are parking like cunts in the first place. I’ve spoken to a fair few over the years (I’m a twat for talking to just about anyone) and haven’t ever really come across a bad one. I’m sure they exist, don’t get me wrong – I just don’t believe every one is a bastard, or hates every other driver.

So if you’ve got a ticket- and again I emphasise that this is In My Experience Only – the odds are that you’ve fucked up and done something wrong. The ticket is going to cost you £30 to pay in the next 28 days, or £60 after that (and with extra costs the more they have to do to recover it) – so just sodding pay it. It’s a fee for fucking up.

I think I’ve now had four parking tickets. Two in Cambridge (where I’d be the first to admit that I pushed my luck anyway, and/or forgot to renew the ticket at the end of its duration) and two in London when I was commuting, and had a brain-fart about paying the ticket. The London ones were a pain, because you couldn’t buy the ticket before 9am- not from the machine, not online. I *know* it was a plan to get more people to forget to pay it, and thus do the tickets. But in six months, I forgot a grand total of twice.

I just don’t get the point of not paying a ticket – you know you’re going to lose anyway, so you might as well get it paid while it’s cheap.  Even if I were going to protest it, I’d pay while lodging the appeal. (Unless it’s better to not do so – I don’t know, never had to do it)

The programme seems to specialise in these ball-bags who park like twats, make a mistake, and then blame everyone but themselves. Of course, they don’t pay, and then bitch even more when the bailiffs come round (or stop them in the road) and charge £500 for what could’ve been dealt with for £30.

I’ve said many times that there’s whole heaps of stuff about people that I simply don’t get. Parking tickets are just one more facet of that lack of knowledge/understanding.

Squish

Maybe I’m more aware of it this week, with Death of the Mau, but on my drive to and from work I’ve noticed a lot more dead animals by the roadside this week.

Uncommonly, the great majority seem to be badgers (of varying sizes and ages) which I always find very sad.  At least these are on dual-carriageways, rather than the completely-intact bodies I sometimes see on the edge of other roads. (I’m never quite convinced that these aren’t actually from farmers/people gassing them, and using the roads as a convenient excuse/reason for dead badger, and disposal thereof. But I’m horrifically cynical)

In my opinion it’s always sad to see dead badgers – they’re awesome creatures – but particularly seeing younger ones depresses me.

I suppose it’s that time though, with semi-mature ones making way for new litters and exploring the world, and also post-winter-sleep. (I know they don’t ‘hibernate’ as such, but they certainly appear to slow down significantly over winter)  All the same, you’d hope that a driver would notice a bloody big black-and-white creature lumbering across a dual-carriageway. (I know they don’t, because they have issues noticing other cars, let alone animals. But still, we can hope)

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