18. Speed limit?…………What speed limit?

A couple of times over the past few days I have contacted my friends, Jason and Sue, about meeting them somewhere in Suffolk. They are a marvellous Aussie couple who spend a lot of their time travelling the world and have, until last year, owned a house in Bramfield, Suffolk. While I was in London they were touring the south-east of England in their motor-home so via email we’d teed up spending some time together before they set off on their next big adventure – Canada I think.

Anyway, I was anxious to set up our joint venture in advance so I could organise some accommodation for myself ahead of time rather than having to worry each day about where I might stay overnight. Jason, however, saw things differently and would never commit to anything in advance. As a result, after our last phone call I was getting a bit anxious about the accommodation side of things in spite of Jason’s insistence that ‘there’s no need to book’. Hope he’s right.

* * * * *

I got up at 6 the next morning – and it was very cold and grey with some light rain. I was thankful that I’d be spending the morning in the warm, dry car. I packed for my adventure into the wilds of East Anglia making sure I had my new camera which takes smashing photos.

There was the usual London traffic scrum (casual term for ‘nightmare’) getting on to the A12 to Lowestoft and it was good to be out in the country for the first time since I arrived. I had asked a few locals about the speed limit and on each occasion had been totally confused by the reply. At home in Australia it seems simple enough: 100 kph on motorways, 60 kph on connecting roads, 50 kph on smaller suburban streets.

In the UK the limit seemed to depend to a large extent on the colour of the line on the side of the road, plus was it an ‘A’ road or a motorway…… oh …. and was it a dual carriageway…. and….. um….if it’s a – by which time I’ve lost track of the first part of the answer.

I simply COULDN’T get anyone to give me some figures – and I did try, many times. No doubt the sensible thing to do was go to a police station, not that I remember seeing any. The other point though was that each time I asked the question I felt sure that this time I would get a clear and concise answer. I’m obviously a pretty slow learner as I now found myself let loose on the highway without any ideas of the speed limit.

Still….how hard can it be?

Just keep an eye on the other drivers, right?

Forget it!!

I’m tootling up the A 12, in the middle lane, glad to have escaped the motoring hell of London, leaving the other lanes to the slowcoaches and speedsters – and there seem to be plenty of the latter. It slowly dawns on me that there is a build up of traffic behind me and from time to time a furious driver swerves out from behind me and roars past wearing an angry yet determined expression. Gosh, I’m doing 50 miles an hour – what’s the problem?

I then hit upon a fool-proof plan to discover the speed limit for myself.

I decide to crank up my speed by 5 miles per hour every 10 minutes or so until I detect that I’m no longer annoying my fellow drivers.

I’m a little surprised some time later to notice that while I’m now doing 65 mph cars are whizzing past me as if I’m still a nuisance on the road. Surely I must be close to the limit, musn’t I ?

By the time I reach 75 mph I am starting to feel stressed – cars are still racing past me and I worry that I might be pushing the little grey car to its limit. All the while I’m doing my sums and converting to the kilometres per hour we use at home. 75 mph is the equivalent of 120 kmp. Good heavens! This can’t be right! On an ‘A’ road?!? I summoned up all my courage and gave 80 mph a go – just in case – but still they flew past me. And then I realised – they’re all crazy – or rather speed crazy.

What a relief to realise that in fact the speed limit was something probably considerably less than 80 so I no longer felt any pressure to flog the poor old car (or myself). With a great whoosh of air I began to breathe normally again and returned to tootling along at about 60 and left them to their crazy speeding.

My trusty grey car on a typically narrow road in East Anglia

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