Wednesday, 20 August 2014
Home Sweet Home
I had a wee sojourn to Englandshire this past weekend. The purpose of my trip was to hear the superb young tenor Jonathan Antoine sing. Unfortunately the concert was in Porthcawl, South Wales, though we managed to meet up with family enroute for a couple of hours.
My time was limited and it was decided the journey would have to be no longer than 48 hours. Little did I realise, although I did some research on English motorway conditions, that we would be driving or stationary for 23 of these hours.
The trip to the border was a breeze, although there wasn’t enough to turn any of these white carbuncles which intrude upon our wonderful landscapes. During the 500 miles journey I saw only 5 turbines moving. (The 5 is not a typing error).
However, this post is not about wind farms, but about the state of one of the main arteries between Scotland and England.
No sooner had we crossed the border at Gretna when we were held up for 95 minutes. No explanation appeared on these overhead gantries. It was a local radio announcement that gave us minimal information.
Once we passed the accident (a car had hit the central reservation barrier but there was no ambulance present so it didn’t appear as if there were any serious injuries involved), we thought ‘full steam ahead now’. I realise it’s fatal to think positively on England’s motorways. Ten miles further on saw us grinding to another halt. The problem this time was roadworks. From that northerly part of the M6 to Bristol on the M5, 40% of the journey involved roadworks; all of which had a speed limit of 40 or 50 mph. A journey which should have taken around 8-9 hours turned into a nightmare taking nearly 14 hours. Our average speed was around 35mph I calculated.
Here in Scotland another Forth road bridge is being built to ensure our traffic flows. A solid infrastructure is essential to the prosperity of a country. With the exception of the small section of toll motorway in the Midlands, the M6 and M5 have never been altered since their construction. With nose to tail traffic for hundreds of miles, is it any wonder the economy is in dire straights? (I don’t believe Osborne’s predictions that it is improving). Much of the traffic was commercial.
Of course the greenies want us all to sell our cars and use public transport, but I would have had to change trains four times to get to Porthcawl and then pay taxi fares to reach my destination and the cost was much more than travelling by car. That was on paper. In reality our fuel costs nearly doubled because of the miles of nose to tail stop/start conditions.
When crossing the border on the return journey I was never more delighted to see the sign ‘Scotland’ and breathed a big sigh of pleasure. Should I ever have to travel to the south/south west again I will fly, but right at this moment I’d be quite happy never to return further south than Penrith.
Why do people in England tolerate such poor roads? It would seem the greenies, with their public transport policies, have won. I’m sure those travelling on the buses I often saw alongside us, may have had different opinions.
The concert was wonderful by the way and worth the journey. When this young man’s solos album is released in October, I think he will take the world by storm. Quite probably this was the last time he would perform in a small, intimate concert hall and that’s why I was so determined to be there. Vast arenas, in which the performers are the size of matchsticks, aren’t for me no matter how big the stage video screens.