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5:32pm on Friday, 28th October, 2011:

222 Miles


We're at my dad's this weekend, back in my home town in Yorkshire in the house in which I grew up. It's some 222 miles from where we live (depending on the route we take), and normally takes about 4½ hours to drive. Today, it took 6½.

The reason it took so long was because of five incidents along the way.

Incident #1: my wife was driving, and had gone about 10 miles when she saw a sign saying "Road Ahead Closed". That didn't seem likely — it's an A-class road. Half a mile later, we reached a queue of traffic. We sat in it for 10 minutes, then it moved. There was another sign saying "Road Closed", and a man with a walkie-talkie sending us up a country lane. The lane was wide enough for one vehicle; the walkie-talkie was to stop the traffic from the other direction from being sent down the lane at the same time. We were diverted through a bunch of villages that looked as if they were the kind where the people who live there only ever marry each other. Eventually we reached the main road again, just as a truck was being sent up the narrow lane and found it couldn't pass the truck ahead of us because the road was too narrow.

Incident #2: my wife was still driving. We were on the A14, just outside Cambridge a bit beyond where the M11 ends. Traffic was slow, then it stopped. By stopped, I mean we moved about 5 car lengths in 45 minutes. My wife and I swapped seats (we got out and walked, since we weren't moving), on the grounds that my wife wouldn't give up and try a side road whereas I would. We switched on the radio to find out what the cause was, but just missed the traffic news. The next time we heard it, 3 hours later, they didn't mention any problem. Oh well, I'll be getting a proper mobile phone after Christmas so next time we'll know what the hold-up is (although we'll still get held up, of course).

Incident #3: our diversion was going well, and we approached a roundabout to make the right turn that would put us on the main road back to the A14. Exept, the roundabout seized up. Nothing moved for 10 minutes. We didn't know why, it just stopped. This time, we did find out why, though: a police car appeared, followed by an enormous flat-bed lorry on the back of which was what could accurately be described as a ship. It was HUGE — like, trawler-sized, but with the shape of a motorised yacht. It had at least two lifeboat racks on it. It would never have fitted under any road bridges. Gawd knows why they didn't take it wherever it was going by sea...

Incident #4: I took an earlier-than-usual exit from what I normally take, at North Cave. It was going well, until I saw a sign saying "all routes this way". I followed it. I shouldn't have. It was all routes to Market Weighton that way. This wasn't the opposite direction to where I wanted to go, it was merely orthogonal to it. That added another 10 or 15 minutes to the journey.

Incident #5: we got through Beverley quite quickly, because at least when you approach it from the direction of Market Weighton it's easy to avoid the centre. We got to Tickton, then hit traffic again. There was over a mile of it, and we crawled along. The cause was an accident involving a scooter (an antique one like the mods used to ride in the 1960s — a few more overtook us, so there must be a meet-up going on). The police were there, but an ambulance and a second police car came screaming along when we were getting close to the scene. the police from here stopped traffic coming the other direction and eased up the queue. As we went past, we saw there was a body lying next to the motorbike. So, not entirely a waste of time then.

Maybe when we go back on Sunday, we'll take a different route.

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Copyright © 2011 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).