I’m on the brink of my second escape to the sun.
It might sound daft and unappreciative but because I am going away for ‘only’ 3 weeks I have found it very difficult to take the preparations and the packing seriously. It’s a very different mental attitude to preparing to go for the 5-month trip last summer or even the 6 weeks in June-July this year.
Preparing the garden was easier because there will not be vigorous Summer growth from now on and it is too early to do the Autumn clearing. I harvested the potatoes, a very good crop this year, averaging 2 lbs per haulm, a total of 110 lbs !!!!!! Thanks to the weed-suppressant fabric the vegetable patch is still largely weed-free and the winter veg growing through slits in the fabric is doing well, apart from the fact that some of the plants I bought labelled ‘purple sprouting broccoli’ turned out to be cabbage. The main problem was that the apple tree which has normally been completely harvested by mid-August is not yet ready to pick and has a very heavy crop which I won’t get the benefit of. But no real problem, that’s the price of jetting off to the sun. Given a straight choice it’s a no brainer but…….. I hate wasting food, particularly top quality food!! So hopefully the apples will be picked and eaten by next door.
Bit of a meander here. A documentary I heard on the radio recently quoted a figure of 25% of food bought in the UK is wasted, put out in the rubbish. Brought up in the immediate post WW2 years with rationing still in place and nowadays in a climate–conscious Western-world I am paranoid about wasting food. It therefore grieves me to see crops, however meagre, not being harvested and used properly. So hopefully the apples will be picked and eaten by next door
Eventually I got around to packing, determined to limit the amount of stuff I take so as not to run up against the excess baggage charges I incurred on my way home in July. One lesson I learned last year is that they have shops even on small Greek islands which generally stock things such as shower gel ….. so why bother taking it with me. All it takes is a little daring to try Cobra Venom Shower Gel for (Greek) Men (I made that up) rather than Arctic Ice for (British) Men.
Then I travelled Up North on Monday, ironically a day of warm sunshine, probably the best day of the Summer. I left home at 11.05, amazingly only 5 minutes later than planned in order to avoid the traffic congestion around Birmingham and in particular at the M5/M6 interchange. It worked a treat, for the first time in many years I drove off the M5 and onto the M6 at 70mph with little traffic nevermind queues. As I drove further North the traffic got heavier but was still free flowing and moving at 70 mph.
I had decided beforehand to break the journey and have a snack at the exceptionally pleasant lakeside Stafford Services and had made a salad out of fridge remnants to eat in the sunshine. When I got to the car park I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was completely full and there were stewards in hi-vis jackets directing traffic to park on the grass above the parking area. I have never seen so many cars or people in a motorway services. No wonder the traffic was light on the motorway itself.
But then as I drove out of the services and re-joined the M6 it was quite a different story, the traffic became horrendous, alternating between being parked to moving at 50 mph every few miles. There were no accidents and no holdups caused by traffic merging from slip roads at junctions. The queuing would suddenly end at a random point between junctions, surging to 50 mph before slowing to a crawl and then stopping again. It showed the typical pattern of what many years ago my lecturer in Traffic Management called SVT, Sheer Volume of Traffic. This was a problem on the M25 from the day it opened, so much development having been allowed close to its junctions which meant that it was over-capacity from Day One. Some improvement has been brought about on the M25 by introducing variable speed limits which controls the speed and flow to achieve maximum capacity. The M6 has become such a pain that clearly a similar approach is needed.
Now I’m at Ruth and Tim’s and enjoying the warm sunshine which seems to arrive when I am leaving the country. A few more things to do on Wednesday morning and then I catch a flight at 19.05. The internet tells me that the flight has already been delayed an hour: it should leave at 18.05. I wonder how much it will be delayed altogether this time?