The one thing we all have in common

Humans are funny creatures

We spend our days fighting each other over strips of land with borders visible only on maps and in our heads. We argue about where are are from (in a theological sense), and then bomb the crap out of people that disagree. Similarly, the civilised West screws each other over for the sake of bits of paper saying how much of a company you own.

Weird

And yet we all share one thing in common, one base instinct that drives us all. Nope, not sex. Nope, not love. Its having a poo

And if you don’t believe me, try driving out of London needing a poo vs driving out of London feeling a bit frisky. See, only one instinct wins there?

On my travels, I have noticed various trends in the whole realm of toilet ettiquette and standards. Broadly, standards are on the up. French service station toilets are generally immaculate, if not always well lit (curse you environmentally friendly lightbulbs). German ones are similar, and Luxembourgeon ones are clean and the services dirt cheap, which is why the car park is full of German, French and British people stocking up on coffee and chocolate as well as a tank of diesel

Toilets I do not like include:

Country pub toilets – Yes, I know this is the country, but can we just have some heating please? My equipment does not like the cold, and really needs to be warm to work at its best

Toilets at work – For the love of GOD gents, can you not flush, aim properly or flush? Yes I mentioned flush twice. I quite like some of the people I work with, but its quite upsetting to see the remnants of last nights dinner bobbing about in the water, and does make you hate them a bit. I’m sure the girls are the same, although it also appears to be a refuge for them to enable sobbing and the tail end of cat fights

Toilets at Airports – I haven’t checked my bag in yet, and peeing whilst trying to hang onto your suitcase is not fun. Worse still is using a cubicle, when it the point of almost no return, you discover you can’t get yourself and your suitcases into the little room. Bad

Toilets I do like include:

Hotel toilets, esp if I’m not resident. The vague thrill of marching through the foyer, using the facilities, stealing the expensive toiletries and then leaving is one of life’s pleasures

Toilets on planes – sadly only ever visited these on my own, but I harbor the idea that one day I may get to join the club. Although to be fair, the ones of the various crappy regional airlines I fly with aren’t big enough to poo comfortably in, let along get jiggy in. However, I am fascinated by what happens when you flush. BOOM! And it’s gone. Amazing. Like bonfire night

Any toilet where I’ve reached it on the sweating edge of wetting myself. Is there anything nicer than relieving oneself when you had got to the ‘Christ I may not make it’ stage?

Travelling for me revolves around a number of staple activities, and as I get older, one of them is the requirement for quality toilet facilities. It’s the one thing that unites us all as humans. Let us never forget that black or white, rich or poor, nothing beats the first wee of the day…

Communing with other people in their Cars

Communing with other people in their Cars

The motor vehicle is one of the great inventions of mankind. It frees us from tyranny (catching Public transport) and offers teenagers somewhere out of the wind to smoke pot and have sex, all the while expressing their individuality by dressing exactly the same as all the other teenagers.

I am a total car nut, I will confess. Fatherhood has rather castrated this hobby, since a car with a big fat engine and buckets seats that cause back pain are no longer of much utility. These days a boot with a removable rubber floor mat is the best I can hope for, but I still cling to the notion that my midlife crisis will facilitate a reckless purchase of Stuttgart’s finest. All content in the knowledge that nobody in my family has gone bald. And therefore I won’t look like those elderly slaphead’s driving sportscars that make us all feel good about ourselves (because we aren’t an elderly slaphead driving a sportscar)

Spending so much time in the car, gives one a chance to observe the different strata of society that exists on the road. Mirroring society as it does, there are the obvious underclass, the obvious top 1% and those of us in the middle bit, trying our best to run nice cars on budgets that should really only be able to pay for ‘P’ reg Hyundai Sonatas

However, all of us out there fighting for our bit of tarmac seem to believe that being inside the car generates a force field, a cloak of invisibility. The other day I watched a middle aged chap in a shirt and tie in a nice Mercedes luxuriate in retrieving a humungous bogey from his nose. He then spend a few seconds dwelling on it, before guiltily enjoying a post-Ginsters snack. All well and good, whatever flicks your switch I say. But stationary at a busy intersection, it was blatant. And I made the mistake of staring too long, and caught his eye. I’m not certain who was more embarrassed

In fact catching someone’s eye from the car is a weird one. We British do the ‘if I don’t look at you, you don’t exist’ thing, but I like to go the other way. I smile, wave, blow kisses, stick my tongue out and generally interact with my follow road users. It helps if they are hot girls in sports cars, but even blowing raspberries at van drivers keeps me amused, although them catching me up at the next lights does offer a frisson of fear. Pulling faces at small children, safe in the knowledge they will spend the rest of the day at Great Aunt Maude’s house copying you gives me great pleasure. Winking saucily at WPC’s in their Panda cars is high risk but also fun.

So today’s offering is, get out there. Enjoy the road. Offer your fellow road users a cheery wave and a cheeky smile. By all means pick your nose or squeeze spots, just don’t do it at the lights. And if you are bald and buy a sports car, please, for your own good, buy a hat.

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Cold weather rant

I am not noted for limitless patience where travelling comes into matters. I’m teetering on the edge of the precipice that is present at the end of my 30’s, worried that its now OVER 20 years since I left school, and concerned that the flecks of grey hair dont make me look like George Clooney, they just make me look like me, but older.

Additionally, I am getting the right arse about train travel. Its bad enough my current employers force me to sit with the riff raff in Standard class, and are trying to cut expenses by making me drive places I would normally catch the train to. But all of this is compounded by the fact that people who run the trains get suprised by weather.

Weather is something we don’t really get a lot of in Britain. For overwhelming periods of the year a great splodge of crappy grey cloud sits above us, leaving us damp and miserable and lady’s hair a bit frizzy. Then for a glorious few days it gets hot (this used to be in August, can now be had anytime from mid April to October). Cold-wise, with the exception of last winter, the grey damp muckiness pervades all of it, again with a few days of dry frosty loveliness to rescue our souls. I love this sort of weather. I love being able to see the stars at night. I love the frosty earth, how it makes colours even more vivid and gilds the few flowers out with diamonds.

However, screw poetry eh? What any extreme of weather in this country means is the transport system grinds to an embarassed halt. Today it is frosty. This means the signalling system between Didcot and Reading has stopped working properly, and we are hopping between tracks in a desperate bid to keep moving. And the Train Manager (surely he used to be called a ‘Conductor’ before these days of rampant job title inflation?) keeps doing little jovial announcements like ‘haha we are only running 12 minutes late today folks!!’. Seriously my man – piss off. I’ve been to Scandinavia. These people are arse deep in snow for most of the year, and as a result have developed a stoic approach to life, an aversion to snowball fights on the way to work and an infrastructure that copes with temperatures so low you darent go for a wee until youve been inside for ten minutes. Similarly hot places like France and Spain work, when their staff arent out on strike because someone looked at their baguette funny, with gloriously modern trains and coffee that doesn’t require you to sell a kidney to pay for it and tastes nice.

Ahh, say experts, its because we build for the mean, not the extremes. Experts? My arse. Apparently I am an expert in my field, a concept that reduces me to giggling fear, since I can barely tie my own shoelaces. So I treat these experts with the scathing derision they deserve. Anytime a pillock on a suit is presented on the news as an ‘expert’ I reach for my metaphorical stock of rotten veg to hurl at the screen. Iinvariably they talk about how our infrastructure has to cope with hot and cold, rising passenger numbers and a legacy of underinvestment. Really? Or is it just bollocks? We’ve had railways since Brunel rocked up with his awesome beard and comedy hat. The population growth has been pretty steady and reasonably predictable.

Yet I am condemmed to travel on a train so cold I can feel my blood retreating from my extremities, is late again and full of the type of people I normally cross the street to avoid. Oh, and the ticket cost the same as what some poor bastard picking vegtables out on the Fens gets paid in a week

Is it too much to ask for a train that is temperature all year round, not full of gibbering morons and IS NOT LATE ALL THE TIME

Yes. Yes it is apparently

Packing for Holiday

They say the most stressful things a man can do are:

  • Get married
  • Get divorced
  • Go to IKEA with the missis

I’ve dealt with them by:

  • Drinking heavily on my big day
  • Will get back to you
  • Sulking, carrying on like a five year old and generally performing.  Its doesnt stop us going, but it makes me happy to get away with such awful behaviour

However, the fourth most stressful thing a man can do is packing to go on a family holiday.  The family are old hands at this now, but I’m certain when they went into Iraq they didnt plan like this.  I should confess at this point that I contribute to the packing process by:

  • Preparing MP3 players
  • Programming satnavs
  • Hiding upstairs in my office hoping people will forget I am here

I am a dab hand at points 1 and 2 (thought of the day, How many Deep Purple tunes are ‘too many?’, supplimentary comment “No you can’t have Katy bloody Perry”).  Point 3 generally gets me shouted at, and rightly so.

However, I do subscribe to the cliches around women and packing. In the summer, the question is “Seriosuly, how many sarongs do you need?” and in Autumn “No love, I’m fine. One scarf is fine. Honestly. We’re going to Holland. They ride bikes. No, I don’t care if my scarf doesn’t go with my coat. Please? OK. OK. OK. Take two. Please stop crying”

However, we invariably take the right stuff. Mainly because I’m not involved.  I have developed a fine line in packing stuff in the car, finding little spots for things (who would have known you can fit so many packets of chirizo down the tyre well?), all in the name of buying more wine at CitiEurope.

CitiEurope, for the uninitiated, is the big shopping mall by the Tunnel in Calais.  It is exactly the same as any shopping mall in the UK. Except that Calais is one of the grottiest towns anywhere in Europe, offering a gallic take on, say, Hull or Nottingham for sheer ground in horror and shudder inducing misery. AND the big supermarket is full of the sort of shoppers that I go out of my way to avoid. Yep. English people

English shoppers in CitiEurope split into two distinct camps.  The first are the ones who think Orangina is sophisticated, are buying a selection of frankly rather average cheese to take home for Grandad and stop in the middle of the isle to discuss with their fat friends whether its cheaper to buy talcum powder at home.   These people are an irritant, and make me upset.  But the second group make we want to shrivel up and put on fake German accents so as not to be associated with them by the irrepressively snooty sh0p staff.

These are the middle aged wine bore’s (or ‘pillocks’ as we call them out West), who are strolling up and down the vast wine isles, mulling over dusty bottles of wine that are as much as a few pound cheaper than the UK.  There’s lots of appreciative sighing, “mmmmm”-ing, pinching of noses, lolling about, and generally behaving like arses.  “Look”, I want to scream “Ive been on the road for nine hours, the children are bored and my wife is playing see how many wine boxes she can fit in the boot before the car’s rear suspension breaks. GET OUT OF THE F**KING WAY”.  I want to explain, that since the shop is aiming for the mass market, most of the wine is utter piss. Granted, its CHEAP piss, and worst case can be used as Toilet Duck replacement, but still piss.

So, packing for holiday has its uses, namely, making sure I have enough room to buy boxes of cheap piss in Calais to get past the anger built up by being there in the first place.  I know this doesnt add up, but better this than a week in Wales. And I’ve got 30 litres of wine in the garage. Yay

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Scandinavia

One of my favourite places I’ve visited over the years has been Scandinavian.  I think it’s because it looks superficially so similar to Europe, but is so different when you get up close.  I’m afraid that I’m not experienced enough to be able to tell much of a difference between Norway and Sweden (sorry Kasja!), so for the purposes of this blog, I’m going to say Sweden, but it could mean either.

I went a few times with work, and my traveling companion was a Swedish colleague from Stockholm.  As ever, when you travel with someone you get to talk about stuff other than work, and I can clearly remember a fierce argument about whether rabbits eat their own poo.  I should say for the record, they do, and I won.  Anyway, my actual point is that travelling with a local has its ups and downs.  The ups are that they know where all the decent bars in downtown are, the downsides is that as a result you ending getting the bill, and Stockholm must be the most expensive place ever for drinking

But as Travolta, said, it’s the little differences (man).  The most extreme is clearly the weather. Leaving a spring like London mid-April with blue skies and daffodils making the big push for it, I was a bit upset as we descended into Arlanda airport to see everything was grey, dead and covered in that horrid snow that’s been chewed up by cars into a black mush.  Still, getting a transfer to the hours flight north, I was pleased to see that the airport had lots of IKEA-esque chairs and wood, but was then terrified by the air stewardess doing the safety announcement in Swedish (I KNEW what she was saying from the gestures and the life vest being waved about, but what happens if they do it different here?? What about the moose?), and then pleased to see as we landed, that it was knee-deep in snow.

Proper snow. Like you see on Christmas cards. You know, deep and crisp and even.  I will confess that I bounded out of Arrivals, abandoned my suitcase, and dived into the snow. As my colleague emerged through the doors, I hurled a snowball at her.  I can safely say that if I had thrown a dog-poo flan at her, I would have not got a worse response.  Apparently, because they spend their entire lives clearing paths, digging the car out and generally wishing for May, when it’s all gone,  snow is not funny (snow joke??). We don’t apparently throw snow balls in April. Everyone else was staring at me, and as my colleague apologized for barking, she explained that there is a time and a place for this sort of thing, and Swedish regional airport car parks are apparently not the place. I spent the rest of the day crestfallen and a bit sulky

So as I raised, it’s a horrifically expensive place to go drinking.  Other things I’d noticed were:

1.The reason why Scandinavians make the best rally drivers are because a. they all drive like maniacs b. the roads outside of the main towns are just the tarmac-ed bits of the ice sheet. 

NEVER accept a lift from a local if you are running late for your flight.  ‘Its OK’ the chap said in his best comedy Swedish chef voice, ‘I think we can make it’.  Soling yourself in Scandinavia is a great name for a punk band, but it’s something I can live without the imminent prospect of again

2. Fish. Everything has got fish in it. They smoke it and eat it.  They bury it, then eat. They eat it raw. They eat it for breakfast. I like fish. But I got haddocked out, and came home longing for broccoli and mashed potato

3. Despite what I’d be led to believe growing up in the UK, it’s not wall to wall porn on the TV. And God knows I spent hours in my hotel looking.  However, every single person on their TV does look like they should be in ‘Abba – The Musical’.  This was scant consolation

4. They make the British look like the Italians for emotional outbursts.  I sat in a meeting and delivered a groveling apology for something my company had done, and the chap I was talking to barely moved a facial muscle.  I was told afterwards that apparently I’d blown him away with my candor and groveling, but for all I can could tell, I may as well have read him the Rugby League results from June 1975

5. They are friendly, tolerant, and enormous fun. Frankly, ignoring the snow, the weird light and the mental driving, it’s one of my favourite places I’ve ever been to.

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European LTA (Lorry Tennis Association)

Over the years, I’ve done a fair few miles across Europe, as I’ve previously intimated.

It has a sort of golden allure. The idea of rocking up at the Tunnel, that giddy first few minutes trundling along the motorway outside of Calais, followed by a deep breath and then plunging into that goddawful first few hours of boring fog-drenched flatness that the North of continental Europe seems to specialize in.

Over the years, it’s gone from madcap blasts in sports cars, to the John Deer-esque burr of a diesel estate and a roofboot the size of Swindon. When we started doing it, we took a change of pants, passports and a pack of Babybels. The number of passengers has gone up with the arrival of the little ones, the amount of gear has gone up (but we always forget the tin opener), but two things remain constant. The first is the Babybels (and perhaps some small spicy wind-inducing sausages. I will confess to farting and blaming it on the children as one of life’s pleasures now I’m in my late 30’s). The second and most important facet is entertainment

According to my good lady wife, the children are not to be spoiled with DVD players, since she used to have to stare out of the windows for hours on her childhood eurojaunts, and the CHILDREN MUST LEARN. This is fine. I am driving, so she has to deal with domestic discipline. However, there comes a point when we are all bored and discord erupts. So games have been invented to keep us all amused. There’s the usual ‘who am I’ game, which is isn’t entirely fair, since my son’s choices are invariably Batman/Spiderman/Anakin Skywalker or a character from a Nickelodeon cartoon I’ve never seen. And so I lose and get grumpy, and then everyone creeps round me for a bit

But the best game, which I know is spreading amongst a select few, is Lorry Tennis. It’s a simple game, but generates excitement, rows and tears – three requisite items for passing the day in a car that smells of wet tent. The base rules are simple. Pick two or three lorry franchises rarely seen in the UK, but often seen on the continent. The odder/ruder sounding the names, the better. Ours are Willie Betz, Norbert Dentressangle and for bonus points/schoolboy giggling between me and the wife, the famous(ish) Belgian haulage contractors, Fockeday. Then all you need to do shout out the name as you spot the lorry. Encouraging your children to yell ‘Willie!!!’ at the tops of their voices as you trundle towards Dijon keeps them amused for hours.

Advanced players can start to build in their own rule sets to add complexity. Ours are:

• The Norbert or the Willie has to be on the move, so passing Service Stations full of stationary HGV’s used to be a fruitful hunting ground, and is now banned under the 2007 ‘Its my game and I make the bloody rules’ amendment by me

• The driver can call a let at any point, usually because it’s raining/icy/generally inclement OR is undertaking a heroic overtaking maneuver somewhere near Stuttgart and needs to concentrate

• Extra points can be gained for spotting a lorry with a branded trailer (known as the ‘Double Norbert’ rule)

• Limited edition lorries also score better. White Willie’s (they are normally yellow) or Norbert’s that are in fact tankers are highly prized by experienced players

• Eddie Stobart’s are practice calls in France, you can call them, but they don’t count, but you can all feel pleased that one of our own is that far down

Working on the basis that this is cheaper than 2 x DVD players, I can spend the difference on wineboxes/coffee in Calais on the way home and feel justified in the unwarranted hammering the current account takes in Carrefour. And if, like me, your entire family is fiercely competitive, to the point where arguments over who saw the white Willie tanker first (a rare rare treat for the Willie connoisseur) can last for 10 or 15 minutes, this has kept us amused for literally years.

And crucially, it’s better than French/Belgian/German local radio

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French Motoring

Sadly, this is not an ode to those nice little 2CV’s and Renault 4’s which I have such a weakness for. I might do that next time

 

I actually mean French driving, French motorways and the like.  I’m back from my holidays in France, and being relaxed has reduced the vitriol. And to steal from Shakespeare (sort of), I come to praise them, not to kill them

 

For years there was a general acceptance that the French were garlic munching maniacs, driving battered old Peugeots at barely sublight speeds about the place without so much as a look in the rearview mirror.  Well, I’m almost sorry to say that its mostly untrue (garlic and elderly Peugeots aside).

 

I’ve had the pleasure of driving all over Northern Europe, and can make the following generalisations:

 

1. The Germans do drive like their tails are on fire (the days of de-restriction are mostly over, but still exist in places and everyone just carries on regardless)

2. Dutch and Belgium motorways might as well be cobbled. I recommend taking a bag to put your fillings in if you are off to CentreParcs. You can just hand them straight back to your dentist on your return

3. The British haven’t the faintest clue how to drive at speeds over 45mph. Button, Moss and Hamilton might just be the only ones

4. The French have the best drivers and the best motorways

5. Portuguese Taxi drivers who work in Brussels appear to believe they are in an episode of Starsky and Hutch

 

Points 3 & 4 generally cause the most arguments.  I’m not going to argue with you on point 3, because there is no argument. Drive the M6 between Birmingham and Manchester, and try to retain your temper as a subtle blend of vans, students and terrified-looking middle-aged women in cars their husbands bought them trundle along in the middle lane, regardless of conditions, traffic and the Highway Code. Utterly hopeless, slowing up traffic and boiling my blood faster than a Jim Davidson Christmas Special.

 

Its 4 that I want to focus on. Let us imagine a broad sun-lit upland of the future.  Motorways are smoother than a Peter Bowles chatup line, traffic flows because (get this) people know that it’s not the fast lane, it’s for overtaking. People are courteous and sign their intentions clearly.  Sounds very familiar?

 

Lets also not get too romantic though.  The French produce arseholes in the same way any nation of drivers do, and some of the maneuvers I saw this summer would have made the Red Arrows soil themselves.  But even then, it’s done with a level of skill and confidence that British arsehole drivers don’t exhibit.  Hooning about the place in a Citroen Saxo with a bean-can for an exhaust and a hoopy-earringed tart for a passenger is about as good as we get for arsehole driving in the UK.  I watched in fear/horror/grudging admiration as a bloke in a van towing a caravan the size of Westminster Abbey undertook a line of BMW’s, cut up an HGV before crossing three lanes to exit the motorway with about 10 yards to spare, never once indicating or slowing down. That, friends, is driving like an arsehole. I actually clapped the exit maneuver

 

However, in the main, they don’t tailgate, they don’t lane hog. Their service stations aren’t seething chav palaces of noise designed to extract every last spare penny from your pocket (three quid fifty for a coffee? I don’t want to buy the bloody plantation, just a drink from it. Bastards).

 

And here’s the clincher, the winning entry. When they indicate a maneuver, they do it.  British people wobble about in the lane whilst they make their minds up, indicate, wobble about some more, slowly cross the white line, and then crawl past the HGV at 1mph difference. The French see a gap, indicate and move. I know this is going to happen so I can deal with it. Some old fart spending 20 minutes wobbling about with his indicators on while he decides whether the 3 mile gap before the next oncoming car is enough just causes queues and irritation.

 

And clincher part deux. When you drive south from Calais, usually it gets warmer and nicer for about 600 consecutive miles. All you can say of Britain is that if you keep driving South, you might end up in Plymouth. And nobody needs that.

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My ten favourite roads

In the UK that is (apart from one)…and in no particular order

1.The Cat and Fiddle (A537 Buxton to Macclesfield). I don’t have a bike, and I’ve not been in the pub, but the road allows you to undertake kamikaze overtaking maneuvers with some degree certainty. It is also flanked by sheep that look like they’d tear your head off at a moment’s notice. Do not under any circumstances get out of the car

2.A82 past Loch Lochy in the Highlands. Arrow straight A-road running parallel to the water for a few miles. Hillsides covered in trees, and you can belt along at 90 and still have enough time to gawp at the view. Oh, and sorry Mr Squirrel.

3.The road across the Clifton Suspension bridge. I like to do it holding my breath. As a result, it’s never fallen down yet with me on it, so clearly this technique works

4.Any road leading out of Nottingham. Seriously, what a dump? The A52 does lend itself to racing away at speed, recoiling in horror at the awfulness of it

5.Hyde Park Corner. I’m not from London, but I do spend quite a bit of time there, and whizzing round here and up Park Lane is one of the great wonders of the modern world. How in god’s name do they not hit each other? I know that Mumbai is probably worse, and that Bejing is more mental, but bollocks to you, this is my blog. And its UK centric, apart from….

6.The St Bernhard’s Pass. I always dreamt of driving it in a Porsche 911. And I did it. And now I never need to do it again. The cars turning circle was just about good enough to do the hairpins, there’s no Armco on the Swiss side and when you get to the top, its freezing cold, the parking is crap and the place is full of St Bernhard Dogs. Who, despite what you have been lead to believe are not big fluffy, soppy bundles of joy with brandy barrels round their necks. They are big fluffy, angry looking things, who appear to only want to dig out trapped skiers to supplement their diet. They are kept in a cage the size of Salisbury where they pace about looking angry. Great road. Bad place

7.A303 past Stonehenge. On a sunny day, listening to ‘Viva Las Vegas’ by Elvis. No, I don’t know why either. Try it, it’s awesome

8. M6 Toll Road. Or as I like to think of it, the Midland’s Private Race Track. Smooth Tarmacadam. No traffic. And Ive paid my fiver and I’m going to drive AS FAST AS I DAMN WELL WANT. ‘Triffic

9. The M62 as it goes over the really high bit and the carriageway goes either side of a cottage. It’s not even a nice cottage. And it’s a really blustery, crappy place to live. But I love the fact that someone said ‘sod off’ to the builders and made them go around. It’s hard not to applaud this kind of bloody mindedness

10. The A38 north of Derby. As previously discussed. 20 roundabout free miles over the Dales

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Happiness is….

A warm gun?

A mild hamlet?

Or an A38 without traffic on a summers evening?

I recently had to drive up to York of an evening, which is one of those drives I’ve done many times, but never seems to get any shorter. Normally I’d do it during the day, which involves jousting with cars, vans and lorries as you scrap you way up the M1. But I did it post rush hour, and as a treat, drove up the A38 through Derbyshire. This is a road I drove many times as a student. There is something about driving an old route which makes it evocative and pleasing

Best of all, it was a sunny evening and largely traffic free. Is there anything than better than streaking along a dual carriageway at 68.9mph and seeing it open up in front of you, especially as it climbs over the dales? The road must have nearly 20 miles of roundabout free swoopiness, allowing for long lazy overtaking maneuvers and the time to catch a glimpse of the Dales. Lovely

So the question is, what’s the best bit of road in the Country?

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Top Ten worst drivers

In no particular order – they are all bad

1. Dolly Birds in underpowered Citroen Saxos

2. Old ladies parking in Sainsbury’s carpark. Love, it doesn’t need revving so hard, and for christsake HURRY UP

3. Tired-looking women driving people carriers full of their offspring. At most, only 37% of their attention is on the road

4. Anyone driving a car that has been ‘pimped’ (as I believe they call it). An R-reg Vauxhall Astra is still a heap of shit, even if you use a bean-can for an exhaust, give it squinty-look headlights or lower it.

5. Anyone driving a 2 year old black 320d BMW. It screams rep (which is fine) but if the phrase ‘lane discipline’ is representative of your love life, rather than a driving approach, give the keys back to your fleet manager please

6. My Mum (or your Mum). She’s driving an elderly small car, and has a top speed of 34 miles an hour. The only upside of getting stuck behind my Mum on a twisty B road is that at some point your frustration will boil over and you will undertake an overtaking maneuver so heroic you will soil yourself with fear

7. Estonian Truck Drivers. He’s been on the road for 18 hours, his bowels are in tatters through excessive consumption of smoked sausage and coffee and he’s probably got bald tyres. Little wonder he tends to wander a bit outside of his lane markers

8. Twats in expensive sports cars. This is just jealousy

9. Coaches belonging to a major provider of scheduled coach transport in the UK. The Ryan Air of the road, their drivers typically perform high speed maneuvers that are best left to Saturday afternoon repeats of Smokey and the Bandit. I usually find giving them a wide berth helps. And that the law requires the drivers to be called either Dave or Nige’

10. Motorbikes. Again some mild jealousy as I’m not allowed one under the terms of the matrimonial contract, but they do seem to have a deathwish most of them. If I hit something at speed, various bags, gizmos and belts will do their best to bail me out. Hit something on a bike and all that happens is the contents of the leather outfit are reduced to something that looks like and has the consistency of a takeaway chicken madras

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