It’s been a little while since I just blogged about life. Mostly it’s been about games or movies or movies about games, or games based on movies about games. Or books. Or games based on books. You get the idea.
We tend to do a little bit of travelling around this time of year, up to the North East to see my family and down to the South Coast to see Grete’s. In terms of distance there’s not much in it either way, 160 miles North East and 200 miles to the South Coast. Okay, so there’s 40 miles more going south. But those 40 miles make a hell of a difference, because most of them are around the M25. In fact, I reckon it’s about ~45 miles around the M25 from the M1 junction we arrive on, to the M23 junction we leave via. It’s only 20-30 miles more going around than it would be going across London as the crow flies, but those miles are often the most painful. This time we went north twice, and each time went up and came back on the same day, it’s about 3-4 hours depending on traffic and stops, and it’s a pretty easy run (especially for me, since I can’t drive).
Going south has traditionally been our nemesis though. We once missed a wedding while we sat on the M1 and then the M25 for about 5 hours and only just made it for the reception. The M1 is usually okay, but the M25 is often slow, busy, and inexplicably stop-starty (it might not be a word, but you know what it means). Sometimes we’ll chug along at 15mph for ages, and then speed up with never any sign of what’s going on.
We set off for the South Coast late morning on Saturday (11am), the weather reports had us concerned and while we would normally head out at 8am, we didn’t want to set off without checking ahead, making sure it looked clear. The terrible weather of Friday had mostly cleared, most of the main roads looked fine and although there was still some ice on local roads near Grete’s folks it wasn’t too bad. We made good speed down the M1 and were about 7 miles out from Toddington services when,
- traffic slowed to a crawl, it took us about 50 minutes to go those 7 miles
- we were passed, in the hard shoulder, by 2 ambulances, a fire engine and several police vehicles (and some cheeky bastard using it to bypass traffic)
We went into the services, there was a maintenance vehicle parked in the chevrons of the junction before which we thought little of. We picked up some drinks, used the toilets and were ready to set off, when we noticed another maintenance vehicle now blocking the route back on to the M1, and no traffic at all passing down the M1, or arriving at the services. I can’t find any reports on the web, but from what I heard a couple of vehicles had to be cut open, and the police investigated the causes. Which left us in the services for about 3 hours. It’s better than it could have been,
- we could have been stuck on the M1, behind the closed junction
- we could have been in the accident, and I truly hope everyone involved came away as well as they can be
Once we got going again everything was clear and other than a minor issue on a local road (sheet ice, preventing us from making it up a hill three times before we found another route), we got there fine. Pretty cold the whole way, made it to minus 7 Celsius at one stage.
It’s always worth the journey of course, both North and South. Grete’s mum made a lovely roast dinner for us when we finally arrived, and we got to see her sister and their kids, some friends of ours in Hailsham, and my mother, sister and kids when we went North.
But now we’re home. It’s still bloody cold and we’ve had (well, once again, Grete’s had) a hectic day, but it should be calmer now on the run up to Christmas. Some quick shopping today, then a physiotherapy appointment for Grete (the first to see if they can work out what’s up with her back), then Grete taking Fizz to the vets to see why she’s lost her meow, and finally Grete went to the gym. While she was out I quickly tidied, put our Christmas decorations and lights up and sorted out some stuff I’d been meaning to do for ages (recycled about seven hundred free newspapers).
Already three days of my holiday gone, but the next few should be nice and relaxing.