D4D

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Archive for the category “Driving”

Slow Roads

Every so often I have a day where I just want it to be over – not in any kind of self-harm way, just when a lot of things have turned to shit, and all I want is to go home.

Unsurprisingly, today has been one of those days.

It started OK – it was cooler last night, so I actually got some sleep. I’d got a meeting down near Reading, so once I was awake at 6am, I left to get down there while avoiding the worst of the rush-hour traffic, and aiming to be down in Reading before it even really started. That mission was kind-of successful, in that I was down there by 8.30 – but still, it took two and a half hours to do a journey that I can do on a weekend in an hour, or just over.

The meeting itself went OK, and I’ve got a bundle of work to do, which will make life entertaining.

Afterwards, fortunately I checked routes home on my phone, and found that the M1 had been completely closed due to a fatal accident.  It’s an area I know pretty well, so I knew I’d got a bundle of cross-country routes I could take, and that’s what I did.

However, it seemed like every single part of that route, I was preceded by slow-moving drivers who had nowhere to go, or no desire to get there.  The entire way back was spent going at 30 or 40mph on roads where the limit was 60, and all on what turned out to be the hottest June day in more than forty years – warm to the point where even the car’s air-conditioning wasn’t really managing anything.  (I may need to look at re-gassing it, but we’ll see)

All told, the journey home took two and a half hours – most of which was just due to being so much slower than I would’ve been on quiet/non-busy roads.

So, by the end of it, I was just wanting to be home, for it all to be over and done with.

It’s going to be the first day in several months where I haven’t achieved my steps-per-day walking target – I could still have done it, but frankly, with the temperature and everything else, I just couldn’t be arsed.  In fairness, I’m already well up on the week’s target anyway, so a day off is perfectly doable (and I’m doing a bigger walk at the weekend too) but still, it’s also the first time in ages where I’ve had a day with such levels of failure to be arsed.

Parking Distances

One of the things I like about working (and travelling) in Milton Keynes is their attitude towards parking, along with a nice dose of apparent cynicism and understanding of human nature/lazyness.

Milton Keynes has been pretty much designed around the use of cars (I know, it wasn’t originally so, but the New Town concept pretty much was) and thus there’s a lot of parking available. Sure, the city gets busy, but there’s usually parking spaces available.

The great thing though – in my opinion – is that they organised (and priced) the parking according to proximity to the main areas that people use.  So the parking spaces that are the closest to the high-footfall areas are the highest-priced. If you go a bit further out – by which I mean a block, not miles – then the price is about a quarter of the highest-rate, which seems like a valid reward for being prepared to walk a bit more.

Note : I’m aware that this could also affect those with disabilities and mobility issues, but there are mobility and disabled spaces right next to the main areas, and they’re not at the high rates.

Down near the train station, there’s a great example.  The closest car-park to the station now charges £8 for the day.  But if you go to the next one – literally, the other side of the (dual-carriageway) road – then it’s £4. And if you’ve got a Milton Keynes Employee permit (which will be the subject of a separate post) then it’s even less – £2.40.  So an extra distance of maybe 20 yards can save at least 50% of the parking cost.

As a plan and concept, it understands human nature and lazyness, and take some advantage of it. I think that’s brilliant, to be honest.

88888

Sometimes, things come together fortuitously.

Over the weekend, it was this – I got in the car one morning, and saw that the odometer was on 88,888 miles. So I took a picture of it.

I know it’s properly geeky, but still, it made me happy to have caught it – and with no risk to anyone else.

Drinking and Don Juan

On Saturday, I went into London for the day. The primary objective was seeing David Tennant in Patrick Marber’s “Don Juan in Soho” at Wyndham’s Theatre. However, that wasn’t til the evening, so I had time to walk and be bad in the meantime…

So, having driven down to North London, I took the tube down to Old Street (which is the laziest I’ve been in a long time, as I usually only get to Euston then walk) and visited Blues Kitchen to try their new special.

Then a walk back towards Soho, and the newly-discovered joys of Chick’n’Sours, where I had their special of Bang-Bang Chicken strips, which is all kinds of awesome. And alongside that, a couple of cocktails – with hindsight, a bit of a bad move, but well, it was par for the course.

After that, it was time to meet the people I was going to the play with – first of all, M, and then (later) two of her friends. In between, we had another drink, and then when the other friends arrived, they decided they wanted cocktails.   I know just the place, said I, and lo, back to Chick’n’Sours, where a significant number of cocktails were consumed…

Before the play, we’d got reservations at Marcus Wareing’s new place, Tredwell’s, and so that was where we ended up next, and more drinks were had as well as decent food.  The final bill was higher than I’d expected, but I’m assuming that’s down to a) drinks, and b) possibly not taking advantage of the Prix Fixe menu.  (I’d need to go back in order to figure things out – I failed to keep the receipt, so can’t check , and honestly don’t really care all that much)  It was good though, and all four of us enjoyed it.

By the end, I was… somewhat the worse for wear, although not ridiculously or dangerously so. Besides, by the time we got to the theatre I was already sobering up.

The play itself was thoroughly enjoyable – as always, I didn’t really know what to expect, and some of it was a bit odd (small dance scenes and the like) but all told, I really liked it.  Tennant himself is obviously having a great time playing the vile and reprehensible Don Juan, and the supporting cast were all pretty damn good as well.  It’s on ’til June 10th, and I’d recommend it if possible.

However, the seats at Wyndham’s are some of the most uncomfortable known to man.  A two-and-a-bit-hour performance was more than enough time to spend with my knees wedged into the back of the seat in front of me.

And then, once everyone else was on trains back to respective stations and homes, I took some time to return to the station where I’d parked the car.  I was completely sober by the time we’d got out of the play, and the extra time/walking boosted that even further.  If I’d been in any doubt, I’d have waited at the car, or found somewhere to get some food.

Then a quick drive home, and all good.  All told, a decent way to spend a Saturday…

 

Five

Amazingly, I’ve been in the current house for five years today.  How time flies when you’re having fun, and all that piss.

As it stands, this is now the longest I’ve been in any one place since I moved out of the parental home. It’s certainly not my “forever” place (whatever the hell that means) but it does suit me for the moment – and even admitting that feels kind of weird.

There are two significant reasons why I’m more settled here than pretty much anywhere else I’ve lived…

  1. The location. To coin a cliche, it’s easy to get away from (as I’ve said before) with the M1 for North-South travel, and the A421 for East-West, both within easy reach. It gives me plenty of options, and lets me be away from here on a regular basis while still having somewhere that’s easy to come back to. Compared to (for example) living in Norfolk and Suffolk where it was an hour to get out of the damn county – or onto decent dual carriageway – and this is just easy.  Because of that, I’m not keeping on thinking about where would suit me better.
  2. The finances.  While I’m doing a lot better now, and could easily fund a move, it’s more about the credit-checking and so on that would go with any new tenancy.  At the moment, I’d likely faily it (or at the least it would cause problems) so it’s easier to stay here.  That wouldn’t stop me from moving if I really wanted to – but because of Reason One, that’s not currently the case.  And without an urgency to it, why cause myself more problems or hassle than I need to?

As things stand, my tenancies expire in November – because the first tenancy was just six months, and then they’ve extended as 12-month ones.  The bankruptcy comes off my record in August 2018.  Unless things change radically in the meantime, I think I’ll be here ’til then, and from there I’ll see how I go. So the odds are, another 18 months here, and who knows after that?

Filling Time

(no, that’s not a euphemism)

So – this is a perfect example of how my life suddenly ends up getting busy…

As long-term readers know, I’m a regular at the Meatopia cooking festival at Tobacco Dock in London, which is usually on the first weekend of September. I’ve got tickets for both days (again, as usual) which would usually be enough to keep me out of trouble for that weekend.

Except now there’s a gig I want to see on the Saturday night, also in London. Which is also utterly doable – but makes for a rather busier and more complicated weekend, it’s safe to say.

So my plan was

  • Saturday
    • Drive down to Barbican, park up
    • Walk to Tobacco Dock
    • Eat Lots
    • Walk back to Barbican, check in to hotel
    • Travel to Camden for concert
    • Gig
    • Travel back to Barbican
    • Sleep
  • Sunday
    • Walk to Tobacco Dock
    • Eat More
    • Walk back to Barbican
    • Drive home
    • Die quietly.

Except it turns out my cat-carer can’t do that weekend. So….

It now consists of

  • Saturday
    • Drive down to North London
    • Travel to Barbican(ish), then walk to Tobacco Dock
    • Eat Lots
    • Walk/Travel back to Camden
    • Gig
    • Travel back up to where the car’s parked
    • Drive home
  • Sunday
    • Drive down to Barbican, then walk to Tobacco Dock  (or maybe get the train, depending on other stuff going on)
    • Eat More
    • Back to Barbican / Euston
    • Home, and Die Quietly.

And that is how my weekends suddenly get silly. (We’ll also mention that September already has every weekend booked with stuff to do)

Theatrical

This week has, again, been somewhat theatrical (and with a fair dollop of travel, just for balance)

On Wednesday I finally got round to seeing the Harry Potter play, which was very good (and I’ll write some thoughts about it later on) but made it into a seriously long day. Because of the size of the story/play, it’s been made in two parts, both just over two and a half hours.  Including the break between plays, it meant I went in at 1pm (for performance starting at 2) and left just after 10pm.  Then including getting back to Euston, and the Train Of The Damned to get back to Milton Keynes, I got home at about half midnight.

Yesterday I was down in London, going to see Hamlet at the Almeida Theatre in Islington.  I’d gone down earlier in the day, which was fine, and the play itself – again, very good, although I still need to formulate my thoughts and reactions to it a bit – was pretty complete, and ran to nearly four hours, including intervals.  So again, starting at 7pm, I didn’t leave ’til 11. Driving home was easier, but still, I wasn’t back ’til gone midnight.

This evening I’m back down in London for a friend’s birthday thing (and another late return home) and then tomorrow morning I’m over in Reading supporting another friend who’s running the Reading half-marathon (again) and raising money for the Multiple Sclerosis Trust.

So yeah, busy, and there really is no sign of sanity impinging on my life at any point soon…

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