Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Caravan, August Bank Holiday

The entire population of the rest of the United Kingdom was clearly headed for Pembrokeshire for the pointless August Bank Holiday.  Well, a lot of cars were heading west down the M4.  This wasn’t a problem, until we got to Bristol, Junction 19, and the Smart Motorway.  At that point the signs lit up and the traffic slowed down.  The variable speed limit dropped to 50, then 40, then up to 60, then 40 again, then 50, all within about six miles.  For most of that way, we were doing 10 to 30.  Once we’d got past Junction 21, the Smart Motorway turns dumb, and the traffic gets back to normal.
The exact same thing happened around Newport, between 24 and 29, also a Smart stretch.  Are you detecting a pattern here?  (Clue: it happens on the M25 too.)  And they’re busy turning the M4 from Slough to Reading into yet another one – I don’t know the cost, but judging by the size and timescale it must run into tens of millions – whereupon, in 2022, a perfectly adequate motorway will turn into yet another traffic jam.
That’s quite enough about traffic, isn’t it?  So I’ll leave out the part about the A48 time-saving detour which added another hour or more to the trip, and my anxiety about running out of petrol before we could reach Carmarthen and locate the Tesco filling station.  Z was monitoring the satnav and warned me that there might be a slight delay around the Red Roses turnoff on the A477.  I didn’t think this would add much to the six hours we’d already clocked.

We’d presciently decided to stop at Pont Abraham and grab a bite of lunch (sandwiches, crisps and drinks).  We chose WHSmith’s rather than Costa, for reasons of morality.  I’ve probably written here before about the aptly-named latter company’s approach to their business, which can be summarised as ‘price up, quality down’.  Mind you, WHS can’t be absolved either: we paid over £13 for exactly the same stuff we’d bought at M&S two days previously for £8.40, the only difference being location – one on a motorway, the other not.

Once we got here, everything was fine.  Nothing had changed except the grass, which had grown a bit.  The six hour journey had made it too late to do anything with the rest of the day except have a drink, eat again, and absorb the sight and the smell of the sea.  That’s why I still come here, against all logic.
Sunday was a fun day.  We walked into Saundersfoot through the tunnels, had a pint at the Royal Oak, walked back.  That’s actually quite a lot of walking, especially for Z, who has a recovering but still slightly gammy foot, but also for me – I need to do something about my fitness level.
In the late afternoon, the usual bank holiday Sunday entertainment started up down the pub.  I usually hate being subjected to music I haven’t chosen, but these guys were pretty good.  I flatter myself that the guitarist sounded a bit like I might have done fifteen years ago.  (That’s high praise, in case you weren’t sure.)  And after that there was a classic Welsh boozy singalong, which politely finished well before lights out.
Today (Monday) we went for a walk up the valley then crab salads down the pub.  I‘m going to give the Wisemans Bridge Inn a free plug here – great location, superb service, good food, decently priced.  And they manage to satisfy up to a hundred customers all at once. 
Back to Reading tomorrow.  Back to, or from, the real world.
Oh, and I even managed to get a lot of work done.  That’s what happens when you don’t have internet.
No rabbits.  But the local wasps are very friendly.

1 comment:

  1. It's an "interesting" point that, the more people who use diversions recommended by their satnavs, the more delays are caused on roads that aren't designed for heavy traffic.

    Wasps don't sting me because I befriend them. I should always carry jam, just to be kind.