On Italian roads and a hired Fiesta

There is a bridge over the railway tracks in my town that has recently been resurfaced. And it stands out dramatically, because the moment your tyres touch it, everything becomes as quiet as a whisper. It stands out even more because such properly surfaced roads are so incongruous with the general state of Britain’s roads, increasingly deserving of notoriety.

Should you want a ‘grass is greener’ experience with respect to the quality of our roads, however, go for a drive in Italy’s Lazio region (even if the region itself is lovely).

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A long overdue fleet update

Some time ago, I set myself the goal of posting at least monthly here, and have failed miserably this year in doing so. As there is no one I am accountable to for this, I offer no excuses – I have other priorities in my life, and have willingly set this aside. Still, this site has been getting a surprising amount of traffic in the past few months, so I wanted to offer a quick update on a few things, with the hope that over the remainder of the summer, I will be able to write a bit more regularly again. Continue reading “A long overdue fleet update”

Why is traffic management so hard?

Those of us who are attentive and self-aware motorists often despair at lack of common sense employed in the world of traffic management. National and local authorities responsible for the roads we use everyday seem to have little understanding of how these roads actually work. Hence the blight of ‘smart’ motorways, ill-timed traffic lights, and reduction of speed limits on empty rural roads.

This deficiency of common sense has become apparent in my own town this past week. Bordered as we are by a river and a canal, and with a distinct lack of crossing points, North Yorkshire County Council has once again seen fit to close one of the two main bridges leading out of town for a period of three weeks for another round of supposedly essential roadworks. Why these essential works couldn’t have been carried out a few months ago when they last closed the bridge for essential works is anyone’s guess.

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Fleet update, November 2018

2002 SEAT Leon 20VT

Having said I should drive the Leon more in my last update, I have been doing exactly that this month. It is strange to find myself going outside and actually pausing to think about which car I want to drive. Before this, the Leon would only win out if my sole intention was blasting round local B-roads. Now I willingly choose to take it, even for commuting purposes. It really has improved that much following the work I did to it a few months ago.

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Take the long way, it’s good for you

A few times a year, I go to a meeting near Scarborough for a couple of days, and the usual route to get there from my home in the Selby area is to take the A19 to the A64, and the A64 across, as highlighted on the map below. If there is no traffic, this route should take right about an hour. However, this is a journey I make somewhat regularly, and only once have I managed to do it in an hour. Usually it will be one hour and fifteen minutes; my most recent trip took over an hour and a half. Continue reading “Take the long way, it’s good for you”

The epidemic of the wrong-way parker

Were we to highlight the selfish actions of our fellow drivers, the list would soon occupy a considerable amount of space. But I choose today to highlight one in particular: The wrong-way parker.

For as long as I have been driving, I have made efforts to park on the side of the street facing in the direction of travel. Friends have even ridiculed me for this driving pedantry, particularly when, on streets with parking on only one side, I would go so far as to find a place to turn round just so I could park facing the correct way. Perhaps I am an extreme example. But then again, maybe it just appears that way given the growing number of people who don’t even put a modicum of effort into parking properly and considerately.

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Yours truly being the only one parked correctly in this photo.

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2178 miles around Europe in a £1000 E39

Tell someone that you are about to embark on a 2000-mile road trip in a 19-year-old car you paid £1000 for more than two years ago, and they’re likely to question your judgement. Cue Jeremy Clarkson leaning in towards the camera, raising an eyebrow, and uttering those immortal words: ‘What could possibly go wrong?’

Well, in this case, absolutely nothing went wrong. In fact, thanks to the car, this was probably the most comfortable and enjoyable road trip I’ve ever been on.

A wet Monday morning, all packed and ready to go.

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I nearly wrote my car off today

Because I spent the first 24 years of my life near Toronto, Canada, I have seen my fair share of winter driving, occasionally in some pretty extreme conditions. So it was to my surprise today to find myself in the middle of the most terrifying winter driving experience I’ve ever had, in the North of England, with only a couple of inches of snow on the ground.

Wandering into the North Yorkshire Moors for a lazy morning of recreational motoring, I found myself on a rather narrow, snow-covered road. The road had a few hills, but was relatively flat, and I was having no trouble with traction in the E39. Following the map, I could see that I was about to rejoin a proper two-lane B-road, so decided to press on. What I wasn’t expecting was for the last half mile of the road to feature a 15-20% downhill grade. Or that it would be covered in a sheet of ice.

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