On the road

 

A slight diversion in this latest musing, in that I want to look at the “delights” of travelling to the races.

I tend to go racing many times each week and driving over 1,000 miles a week is not uncommon.

Generally the journeys are uneventful and the motorway network, although boring to drive, does speed the journeys up.

Although I had reservations about the opening of toll motorways in this country I must admit the M6 (Toll) does make a significant time saving when I make forays to the North West courses.

One of the mixed blessings of motorway driving is the motorway service area. It has to be admitted that the quality of these establishments has greatly improved over recent years. However, with the notable, exception of the splendid Tebay services on the M6, few, if any, of them match some of the service areas that can generally be found on continental Europe. I lived and worked in Amsterdam for a while and, at the time, one of the best restaurants could be found at the motorway service area near Schipol airport – and it still does good food now.

Of course our service areas are still a charter for legalised mugging with their extortionate prices. However it is good to know they you always have the chance of a comfort break on a motorway drive.

My biggest bugbear with most service areas are the emotional blackmailers who attempt to persuade you to sign up to a charity linked credit card. It seems almost every service area now has these itinerant sales people and let’s face it that is all they are – glorified sales people. I usually get really annoyed with them – not wholly because they are selling what they are selling – what hacks me off is they seem unable to take no for an answer. Having said “no” I expect them to back off, however they invariably persist in the conscience twanging hard sell. They then have the nerve to get upset with me, when I explain to them in unambiguous terms that I really am not interested in their product.

I have always prided myself on having a good sense of direction and have always eschewed fads like sat-nav systems.

However my self confidence was dented slightly on a recent visit to Beverley. This was only my second visit to the course, the last one being about ten years ago. I made good time along the motorways and as I was running early decided to take the “pretty route” for the last twenty odd miles. Somehow my internal navigation system failed and I ended up getting totally lost and somehow overshot the course by about 15 miles. Instead of arriving in plenty of time I ended up being rushed.

I then did the unthinkable, I bought a sat-nav – do you know what?  It is the best buy I have ever made. From an egotistical point of view it has confirmed that most of the routes I have been using over the years really are the quickest. It has also shown me some short cuts I didn’t know about.

Most of all it has stopped me being late for the races on more than one occasion, mainly due to its diversion button. Hit a traffic jam in an area you don’t know – just press the diversion button and it will navigate you around the problem. I am now a sat-nav convert, especially as my sat-nav is also a computer, meaning I can write up my notes on a small hand held, rather than having to lug a huge great laptop around with me.

It is great being in the 21st century.  

 

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