Going on holiday is exciting isn’t it? That escapism and excitement of new experiences. The fresh views, sights, sounds and expensive tat in local gift shops.
But I’m not going to be grumpy about being on holiday because now I’m here in a seaside town called Falmouth, I’m actually quite chipper. How can I not be with a nice apartment overlooking a picturesque harbour? The boats bobbing and swaying gently up and down, left and right. As I watch the scene from my window for what must be at least half an hour, mesmerised, I see that it is really a hive of activity, albeit at a very subtle pace. Boats gently drift into view and they are so unimposing that they are hardly noticeable until you see that a boat is suddenly half way across the vista and you hadn’t even noticed it glide into view. It’s quiet and peaceful with none of the usual sounds of suburbia that we are used to.
It is possible to have a nice holiday in the UK. There are some beautiful places in this country but the weather can never be guaranteed. For this post I thought I would share with you the joy of travelling to a holiday destination in the UK.
The M5 is a motorway that stretches from West Bromwich near Birmingham, down to the South West of the country as far as Exeter. This was the road that I had to navigate as part of my journey to Falmouth. Our journey to Falmouth consisted of negotiating almost the full stretch of this road.
Luckily, I have a phone app called Waze that gives directions and also allows other Waze users to update in real time any issues on the road. Unfortunately, I am unable to stare at it and give it the attention it needs whilst driving. I’m too busy concentrating on maintaining my speed of 70mph and avoiding contact with other cars of varying speeds. We suddenly hit a queue of traffic. So I check in and luckily I am able to see that another Waze user has updated the map to show that there is currently a traffic jam. Thank you Waze brother or sister, I thought. It instantly helps, because it reinforces my theory that as we are sat there, stationary, bumper to bumper, we are actually in a traffic jam. A relief to have it confirmed.
But it doesn’t tell you why there’s a traffic jam and as we crawl forward slowly increasing our speed, we can’t help but wonder what has happened to cause such large tailbacks. Perhaps an accident? A broken down vehicle? Annoying road works that consist of cones blocking lanes with no works actually taking place? As we reach normal speed again, it soon becomes apparent the cause of the jam. Typically, there is no reason at all. Nothing. It’s just one of those common completely random traffic jams. This happens several times.
The interesting thing is that you can message other Waze users in real time. Kind of like MSN Messenger or Facebook chat whilst you’re driving. Thing is, how are you supposed to do that whilst driving? And what would you say anyway?
“This traffic eh?”
“This traffic. Terrible. Complete standstill.”
“Up to much the weekend?”
“Do I even know you?”
“Just another Waze user.”
“I’m moving steadily now again so I should really be concentrating on the road rather than typing messathfc;`l`s,dnvh”
Then we could end up in traffic for a further few hours because we find out someone was on his phone typing messages instead of watching the road. What a bloody idiot!
I wasn’t able to keep my finger on the pulse of the M5 traffic situation because Waze completely drained my phone of battery life. Great! Thanks Waze. Thanks for giving me the complete impractical opportunity to small talk with complete strangers whilst driving at speed and then have another Waze user tell me there was a jam when I was already sat in it!
But the journey was not only fraught with the drama of avoiding other speeding vehicles and then sudden stoppages, we also have the danger of complete douchebags on the road.
I’m in the fast lane. Not because I’m a Gimp who sits there regardless of whether I am overtaking someone or not. I am overtaking people in the middle lane, perhaps not as quickly as I would have liked but then I am bound to maintain my speed in accordance with the vehicle in front. I cannot go through them and I must maintain some distance from them for breaking distance in case of an emergency. A premise which didn’t seem to make sense to the driver of the white Mercedes behind me. He was so close to my rear that I thought he wanted to change the channel on my radio. Did he not like radio 4? But I wasn’t going to move over. I was moving just as fast as the guy in front of me and we were overtaking the cars in the middle lane. If the white Mercedes guy had passed me, he would then have to maintain the same speed as the guy who was in front of me which was the speed that I was going at anyway.
He then darts from the outside lane to the slow lane and undertook us as he was leaving by a slip road. He then made a hand gesture calling me wanker. Completely unnecessary and totally unjustified! Clearly he was upset with my choice of radio station.
But things like that niggle at me. They shouldn’t, but they do. Especially if I don’t think I deserved it.
Mrs Grump woke up from her slumber and asked if I was ok. I let off steam, venting about what had happened and giving words of wisdom she said that the guy was no-body important, a tw@, we would never see him again and after ten minutes it would all be forgotten about. “It happened twenty five minutes ago,” I said.
We need a break. A toilet stop. A caffeine kick. Let’s stop at the next services!
We are met by a very busy car park and what should be a straight forward, park and piddle stop ends up something like a challenge on Takeshi’s castle. If it’s not trying to get around a bright yellow roller skate that’s blocking the way, with 5 elderly women inside struggling to park the thing, we have to make our way through the crowds of zombified over 50 year olds who all have the same gormless look on their face. Mouths open, eyes glazed over, looking like they have lost their carers.
I look at their expressions and wonder if they think they are in the film Cocoon. Do they think they are stepping onto the mothership? Do they think they are going to get their youth back on some distant planet? Do they not know where they are? This Moto service station really doesn’t resemble a space ship. If it did, I would expect much better toilets. Not a tap that you have to hold down to wash each hand individually and a hand dryer that’s weaker than an asthmatic with a straw.
Their constant dawdling means that they are always in the way. You have to dart around them, trying not to trip over them to get to the loos and hope you don’t get stuck behind them in a coffee shop queue. It’s painful.
An old woman orders 5 lattes. Then another joins her.
“Have you ordered?”
“Yes, I’ve ordered five lattes.”
“But I wanted tea. Just a cup of tea.”
“Can I change my order to 4 lattes and a cup of tea please?”
Then another woman comes over.
“Doris, what have you ordered?”
“Four lattes and a cup of tea.”
“Oooh No. No Latte for me. Coffee doesn’t agree with me.”
“I didn’t want a Latte either Mildred. I’m having tea.”
“Would you like a tea Mildred, like Agnes?”
“Oooh no. Goes right through me. What else do they do?”
“I’m going to look at the biscuits. Shall I get us some biscuits?” asks Agnes. The other two contemplate which hot drink would be best suitable for Mildred that wouldn’t A) go right through her, B) Keep her awake and C) Be ok to take with her medication.
Then from across the room, Edith shouts up that she has a desire for a Mochafrappuchocachino.
Meanwhile, the queue behind is growing ever longer behind them.
“Why not decide before you order!!???” I shout…. in my mind. I think my loud over exaggerated sigh may have been a give away for my intolerance although they still seemed oblivious to it. I guess they hadn’t tuned their hearing aids to that sigh frequency.
It was a relief to get out of there and get back on the road.
But that’s behind us now. I don’t have to worry about it now. Well, not until we go home.