D4D

Would you be offended if I called you a cunt?

Archive for the category “M1”

Situation Standard

Yet again, I appear to now be idiotically busy over the next few weeks – well, really ’til the end of the year, what with one thing and another.  I still don’t quite know how I end up doing this to myself, but it’s pretty much standard behaviour these days.

I’m not complaining – in general I like being busy, and prefer it to days doing nothing  – but every so often I look at the calendar, and the board that holds all my upcoming tickets, and think “Lyle, you really are a bloody idiot“.

So, just in the next six weeks, and in no particular order, I will be…

  • Seeing Sir Ian McKellen as King Lear in Chichester (and staying overnight, possibly stopping off in Oxford on the way back)
  • A one-day conference in Birmingham, which may or may not happen, depending on other work commitments/stuff
  • A day-trip blitz run to Sheffield
  • A day in London doing a food festival in the morning, and a play in the evening
  • followed the next day by a day-trip run to Middlesbrough and Durham (for reasons I won’t go into now, as it’d identify the dates I’m away)
  • a weekend in Newcastle (which is, of course, not the same one as being up in Middlesbrough, despite proximity and so on)
  • A day trip to Cambridge
  • An evening in London, via Oxford (there’s reasons, but yeah, still idiotic)
  • And at least two other visits to London (with another one in early December)

Not just those travels, but somewhere in there also needs to be

  • Finally getting the starter motor on my car replaced (a hassle/fight that’s taken way too long, and will get written about some other time)
  • Seeing a number of films, which I’ve already got tickets for
  • other (more local) food things
  • Working (of course)
  • And finishing off two other projects.

In short, all a bit mad.

I know I’ve said it before – but for next year I need to start doing a little bit less, not being so booked up, and allocate some downtime for myself.  I just need to get some perspective on it all – because ‘downtime’ for me is also car-time and driving-time, it’s time where I can just float a bit, figure things out and so on.

Mind you, that’s also what I’ll be doing over the next six weeks, so I can figure bits out and what I want to do (and how) in 2018…

The Man Behind The Curtain

I mentioned in the last post that I’d done a day-trip to Leeds, and that I would write more about it.  So, here we are.

One of the Michelin-starred restaurants I’ve been wanting to try for a while is Michael O’Hare‘s “The Man Behind The Curtain” in Leeds. It’s always been booked solid, but when I looked on a whim a couple of months ago, I discovered that there was a table for four free for a late lunch on Saturday. I called the other friend who was interested in the same place , and I booked it.

That’s where the first shock came in. The entire price of the meal was paid at the time of booking, including the wine – and the service charge!  Now to me, that’s taking the piss.  The only other Michelin-starred place I’ve seen with that attitude is The Fat Duck, and even there it’s “only” the food that is paid for ahead of time, not the wine and tip. Every other place I’ve been has taken a credit card number, and said “if you don’t show up, you’ll pay the full price”, which is fine with me.  Paying up front for it all seems very dodgy.

Anyway, I did that, and last Saturday was the day.

I’d hired a car for doing it as a day-trip, as I was also driving the others there and back, and it makes life fun.

“The Man Behind The Curtain” is… highly individual.  First things first, it’s on the top floor of a department store – definitely not somewhere you’d just wander into! As it turns out, it now *was* on the top floor – our meal was the last lunch served in the top floor, and they were moving to the basement after the dinner service.

It’s a strange space, seemingly more of a gallery than a restaurant. The walls were graffitied and arty, with chicken-wire clouds above some tables. I’ve never been anywhere else like it – but that also shows in the food.  Again it’s very arty – some of the food is quite spectacular, as is the crockery it arrives in. In particular, “Emancipation”, which is cod in squid-ink, basically black food on a black “droplet” plate…

That was just one of the ten ‘courses’.  And they were all brilliant.

Honestly, I kind of wanted to not like it, to be unimpressed by the entire place. I feel really strongly about the whole ‘pay upfront’ thing, and think it gives a really bad impression of the restaurant. But the food, the atmosphere, and the service of the place all combined to leave me still impressed.

It was a really good day, and decent drives there and back (two hours door-to-door each way) helped as well.

Fluffy

This evening, I’m off to London to see a comedian called Gabriel Iglesias (AKA “Fluffy”) at Hammersmith Apollo.

It’ll be the second time I’ve seen him, and I’m looking forward to it. When the tickets were announced, I got them straight away – at the same time griping about it being a Friday night gig, wishing it could be a Saturday, but there we go, it was the one that was announced.

The Friday sold out pretty quickly, so there’s now a Saturday night gig too – which is kind-of annoying, but still, I’m happy to be going for the original date, the one that should have sold to the people who really wanted to see it, rather than the also-ran “yeah, kinda interested”s, who’ll end up at in the Saturday one.

It makes for a long old day, but I’m sure it’ll be worth it.

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.

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?

Automagic – Thoughts

Over the weekend, I hired a car – I was doing a drive to Middlesbrough, Newcastle, and back – and chose to have an automatic (as written about here) The main reason was just to see how I got on with it, as autos aren’t something I usually drive.

It was actually pretty interesting. Enterprise gave me a Ford C-Max, which is a proper boat of a thing – but all went really well. It drives a whole lot better than it looks, and it’s the most spookily quiet thing I’ve driven. There’s dark magic at work, when you’re travelling at *cough* 75 in a diesel-engined car, and can’t hear a jot of engine noise. Well, it’s either that or I’m going completely deaf. (Hint : It’s not the latter)  Interestingly, that makes it quite hard (for me) to hold to a speed – it turns out that I drive far more by the noise of the engine than looking at the speedo/revs (which also explains why I speed up when I turn the radio volume up)  Thankfully, it also comes with cruise control, and a speed limiter.

The journey up was pretty easy – and very lazy, with not having to change gear at all – but didn’t give me a great ability to test my preferences between auto and manual.

However, the journey back really showed the benefits. There’d been an accident on the M1 up in Leicestershire (nothing major, a two-vehicle thing that spread across the two outside lanes) and the queues were insane – mainly because there were so many fuckknuckle cunts who belt along, ignoring the ‘lanes closed’ signs, and wait ’til the last possible minute before pulling in to the only open lane, thus jamming things up for everyone else.

As an aside, I strongly believe that the speed cameras should be activated on every gantry where the “lane closed” signs are operative, and should catch every single driver who ignores the warnings and stays in those lanes. Simple driving without due care and attention, £60 fine in the post. Not (necessarily) even points on the licence – the cunts would soon learn when it started being expensive.

Anyway, those tailbacks were, if not a joy, at least a lot easier. No need for endless gearchanges, clutch etc., just plod and stop, plod and stop. I’m still not a fan of the auto-stop/start technology on modern cars, but even that worked fine all the way through, so I confess that I’m less unconvinced than I was. (And yes, I know, double negative etc. etc.)

Once past that, it was an easy ride again. I was impressed by the satnav in the car, picking up a further closure on the M1 and automatically rerouting. I know it’s pretty standard (or should be) but it hasn’t happened in any of the other hire cars I’ve played in this year, so it was a nice touch.

I think if I were to end up doing a lot of city/motorway driving again for commuting etc., I’d seriously consider getting a car with an automatic gearbox now. It doesn’t completely match my driving style at present – I still had a couple of moments of acceleration (particularly when pulling away from a junction, and when coming out into traffic) where I wasn’t happy with how the auto ‘box handled things, as it either over-revved and/or bogged down, until I let up the accelerator and re-pressed it. But I acknowledge that’s my driving style, rather than the ‘box itself.  I’m pretty sure that I’d quickly change my style to be a more gradual acceleration if I were to have an auto vehicle as my everyday drive.

Will I consider hiring an auto again when the travel dictates it? Yes.

So all told, pretty successful all round.

Automagic

I’ve got another weekend of driving ahead of me, and because I’m still not 100% confident in the Saab, I’ve rented one again for the weekend.

This time, for variety’s sake, I went for an automatic – no idea what type yet, but automatic.

I haven’t driven autos that much – I rented one back when I was in Norfolk, which I wasn’t massively impressed with – so figure I might as well get some more experience with them, and see how it goes on a weekend that involves a fair number of motorway miles.

Part of my thinking is that (assuming I don’t mind it) it’s something that I may consider in the next car, because I seem to drive primarily on motorways, and in traffic jams- occasionally at the same time.  I’ve noticed that, when I’ve had a really bad day of slow-moving traffic or city stuff, it can make my legs hurt, purely from just using the clutch all the time, so it’s something to consider, at least.

I’ll write more next week, once I’ve done a bundle of driving in it. One things for sure though – it’s going to be interesting.

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