Parenting, profundities and humour

Cycle Rage — June 29, 2016

Cycle Rage

It is time for a rant…. I haven’t had one for a while. Not a proper, judgey, one sided rant. So brace yourselves.

A couple of months ago a new road opened near us. That is it up there. The road had been a long time in the coming. When we moved here in 2002 it was in the planning stages. Various issues to do with, I think, funding and compulsory purchase orders had got in the way.

Anyhow after a protracted building phase, involving both existing roundabouts at either end being compromised for eons, it was officially opened in April.

Personal friends may remember the photos of my husband and offspring running its length and myself walking it prior to it being opened to traffic.

Once I had got over the disappointment of it being single lane only and the fact that on its circa two mile stretch there are four roundabouts (do we have Milton Keynes envy? No just many houses to build to cope with the outpouring from London) the thing I was most impressed with was the wide and smooth cycle and pedestrian way running along side it.

To start with his road revolutionised our school run. Until temporary traffic lights appeared on one of the only other two routes to allow for the entrance to yet another housing estate to be built. I use the word ‘temporary’ here very loosely. The traffic control is there for about three months. Sigh.

Still the road has helped. Off peak I can now do the school run in 7 minutes. I know, I have timed it. Partly because I fell asleep in front of an episode of Prison Break after a particularly heavy day of cleaning and was almost late to pick up.

I didn’t drive down it at night for a few weeks but when I did, wow, was I impressed. That cycle way, which at times is on a higher level than the road, is lit up with blue LED lights. It looks like a runway. In extremis I am sure light aircraft could land on it.

This got me thinking that there is now only one small piece of our route from home to school that doesn’t involve a cycle way. It is a particularly tricky part of the route involving a major junction and a Roman bridge which is too narrow to comfortably take two cars side by side. But still mostly nice, safe, even cycle route.

I have plans. To dump the school run. Obviously not on cello days. And probably violin days. Which basically means only Mondays and Wednesdays, but still in time it might alleviate my driving schedule. Assuming I can get my head round the Roman bridge.

There are going to be a lot of houses built by the side of this new bypass. I think around 1500. And so I am pleased with the council’s foresight in providing a route out of their estates that can be achieved safely on foot or cycle.

They have even installed an underpass at the roundabout nearest to my village so that not one cyclist needs to negotiate its perils. At the other roundabout it links well to existing cycleways with islands.

Sorry it is taking me quite a long time to get to my rant. So far this isn’t very ranty. Here we go then.

I drive down this bypass a bare minimum of twice a day. More often than not it is six times. And already I have lost count of the number of cyclists cycling on the road rather than the cycleway. In both directions.

I completely fail to understand this. The road has a fifty mile per hour speed limit. Even on the down hill sections no cyclist without the aid of steroids is going to hit that speed. That means I have to overtake. On a single lane road. Or sit doing 20 mph, gently seething.

This morning there was a middle aged man in Sky branded Lycra gear cycling in the same direction as me down the road. Completely ignoring the deserted, purpose built cycle way immediately to his right. Which has about 50 signs proclaiming it as such along its length.

Moreover as lorries hurtled past him he was relying on a woolly beanie hat to protect his head in the not unlikely-and certainly more likely with him on the actual road- event of him being knocked off his bike.

I just don’t get it. I have asked my husband, who himself is a middle aged Lycra clad cyclist every Sunday, why. He has tried to explain that serious cyclists don’t like using cycle paths. Because they are generally uneven and possibly go up and down for drop kerbs for people’s drives and contain cyclists who are going too slowly, to their Lycra clad minds, getting in their way.

I feel so sorry for them. Having to negotiate the odd cyclist who has the temerity to go slower than them. Not. They think this gives them the right to make all the cars using the purpose built powered vehicle road, for which we pay tax, negotiate a slow cyclist.

And even if I accept the fact that all that up and downing over dropped kerbs is too hard on their poor bottoms THIS IS NOT THE CASE ON OUR NEW CYCLE WAY. It is so smooth teams of roller skaters use it for practice. There are no drop kerbs. No pot holes. Practically no other users.

I got quite ranty in the car. Once we approached the roundabout queue at the end of the road I was trying to get in the left hand lane. Cars were queued. I squeezed to the left side of those queueing to go right. I was stuck there for a bit. Queueing.

Non helmeted Lycra man caught me up. And then got arsey because I was in his way. There was some gesticulating. I only just stifled the urge to open my window and point out the proximity of the cycle way. Which incidentally had no queue. And would have led him safely in the direction he wished to go (right) without him having to negotiate the roundabout at all.

Prat. I hope he gets nipple chafing.


Fares Please… — March 13, 2016

Fares Please…


I am not really a car person. My husband is a car person. And likes to pour over brochures and specifications and trims. And I am not. To me a car gets you from A to B. With the cello. Not much else.

However I have reached a point in my parenting life when actually I am more of a car person. And that is because I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in it.

Driving in it. Sitting in it. Eating in it. Sleeping in it. Playing Solitaire in it. Reading in it. Highlighting programs of interest in the Radio Times in it. Planning menus in it. Generally living a large proportion of my life in it.

Take yesterday as a fairly standard example. It was Saturday. If it wasn’t then yet again I refer you to my scheduling habits for these blog entries. If you are still confused then you are clearly not a loyal reader. Please bone up. But anyway it was. A Saturday.

Youngest was playing soccer with her team away in Leighton Buzzard at 10am. Leighton Buzzard is a town I know well having spent my pre teen and teen years living there. My mother and one brother still live there. The journey used to take the best part of an hour. Then the powers that be built a new bypass and I can do it in 35 minutes with a following wind. Yesterday, however, I didn’t. One lane of that bypass was shut. I think some poor souls were litter picking. Or something. And then Leighton Buzzard hits grid lock on Saturday mornings.

So anyway that was my first hour in the car. Chatting to Youngest about life, Def Leppard and soccer. Mainly soccer.

There was a brief interlude where I actually watched football. In fact it wasn’t that brief. They kicked off late. And then played four quarters of 15 minutes with the obligatory team talks in between. This necessitated hubby taking Middlest with him to Eldest’s hockey match at school. As I was not going to be back.

Anyway we got back in the car. The traffic in LB had hit its lunch time peak. That lane was still closed. I decided in my infinite wisdom to drive straight to school to extract Middlest as he needed to be elsewhere too close to the end of Eldest’s match…which had also kicked off/bullied off/ whatever the hockey equivalent of kicked off is- off late too. It seemed to be a day for it.

I drew up in the bus stop next to the Astro pitch and hubby met me half way with Middlest. I set off home.

Clearly I am used to this journey as it is the school run. I set off on automatic pilot conveniently forgetting the flooded flood plains of the river in my village. Which I had commented on to Youngest merely minutes earlier on our journey from LB to school.

It was a shame I hadn’t thought about the implications of those floods on the river bridges in our neighbouring village which I needed to cross to get home. They were flooded and shut. Which I found out just as I approached them. There is another bridge over the river in a village about 10 miles further on. But I wasn’t prepared to risk that bridge also being closed. So we turned around and retraced our steps. Tyres.

We waved at school as we passed by again. And crawled through the traffic the other way. The way that I avoid at all costs. Bridges permitting.

Just as I was driving through my own village on my normal route which allows me to turn right into my driveway (I having learnt the hard way fairly early on the dangers of turning in left with loud children in the car and on a deadline) Middlest piped up that our road had been closed. At that end. Ah yes next door’s lead pipe replacement which seemed to have necessitated digging up the entire street. It hadn’t been closed when I had left home several decades earlier but it seemed the digging could not be accomplished with traffic signals alone and as hubby was leaving the road was in the process of being shut. I am glad Middlest remembered albeit not early enough for me to take the logical ‘other’ route.

I quickly changed tack and took a scenic route through the housing estates of my village to approach the drive from the left. We waved at our old house on the way. Turning into the drive left was made even harder than usual by the presence of an Anglian Water van and several workmen standing around looking pensive in the middle of the street.

So overall that journey took the best part of two hours. Which made us late for the rest of the day. I shoved food down Youngest and persuaded her into a shower and packed an overnight bag for her.

Then we set off again to town to drop Middlest at his party. Another crawl through that traffic that I avoid at all costs. Bridges permitting. And also road closures permitting. One critical road for this ‘bridge’ journey to town involves a street which has been shut for ‘essential’ gas works since February and isn’t due to re-open until May. Sigh.

So another 40 minutes of my life in the car.

There followed a rather pleasant interlude. I dropped Middlest at his Pokémon party in the local comic book store. And then Youngest and I had about an hour to kill before I needed to drop her off at the local pottery painting shop. We went to the library where it quickly became apparent why the multi storey had been so full. Some sort of event was in full swing blocking off the teenage fiction section. Anyway we had a browse and then a snack and drink in the café. Lovely.

I dropped her and plodded wearily back to the old voiture. At least on this journey I was alone and able to play Def Leppard at ear splitting volume and sing without being shouted at. Still the traffic was bad so yet again it took 40 minutes. It didn’t help that I had forgotten about my closed road until I had gone past the point where I could take the ‘other’ logical route. Again. More housing estate. Hi again old house (usual pang…).

It would be nice to say that was it. But it wasn’t. I went back out at about 5.30pm to collect Middlest from his party this time from his friend’s house. On the other side of town. The traffic hard calmed a bit so the whole trip took about an hour there and back. So not too bad. One half Def Leppard, one half Pokémon de-brief. I forgot about my closed road entirely this time but thankfully it had re-opened in the intervening period and was merely traffic signal controlled. I successfully negotiated turning into my drive for what felt like the umpteenth time that day.

And that was it. I turned off the cab sign for the day. A total of around five hours in the car. All told.

Poor hubby though. He had to go to get Eldest from his night hike at half past midnight. Yikes.

So there you have it. I guess I am a car person. By default. And the world’s worst paid taxi driver.



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