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Archive for the category “Commuting”

Inept

Following on from yesterday’s post about car maintenance, and giving the Saab a treat, there was one final thing that needed doing.

Over the last couple of months, the car’s been intermittently reporting “Key battery needs changing”. It did it for a week, then stopped doing so. Then every so often the message would return. (I know, that’s pretty much the definition of ‘intermittent’. Sod off)

Anyway, last week it got more consistent, and over the weekend it started not locking etc., which I figure is a pretty good indication that it’s time to sort it out. (Luckily I’ve got two keys, so it wasn’t a complete hassle) Having looked at the instruction book – yes, a man reading the instructions, what a rarity – and picked up the necessary battery on Sunday, expecting it to be a two-minute job.

Safe to say, it wasn’t a two-minute job. Following the simple instructions, the panel on the key simply wouldn’t open. I probably could’ve forced it, but what the hell would be the point of that?

So it ended up that yesterday I went to my Saab garage, and got them to do it instead. It cost me nothing (except the fuel to get there, of course) and yes, it took them less than two minutes all told.

On occasion it’s galling to be quite this inept – although they did say it’s something that a lot of people have issues with doing – but at the same time I’m fairly secure in my inpetitude, and in getting things done by those who know how to do so.

Basic Maintenance

This week, the Saab must think it’s been stolen – allbeit by someone who actually gives a damn about cars.

With the various odds-and-sods and issues of the last few months, basic car stuff had kind of gone by the wayside. I’ve been promising the car some attention, and so now normality has been somewhat resumed, it’s been time to do it. Plus, of course, the onset of winter conditions, which means it makes sense to ensure things are sorted.

Over the weekend, it got a proper clean inside and out (I don’t quite know how car windows get so disgusting on the inside, but they do) which made a world of difference. There were also new windscreen wipers – the last MOT said they were OKish and wouldn’t fail the car, but did need replacing. So with the colder/wetter weather (and with the next MOT due in a couple of months) it was worth sorting out.

Finally, it’s now sitting on new tyres – it’s a year since I did the last new set, and they’ve done nearly 30,000 miles in that time.

Of course, now it’s had another couple of hundred quid spent on it, it’ll now break down spectacularly in the next couple of weeks, knowing my luck.

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.

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