29. I should have hired a comfy car!

I was stuck in north-east London on my way back from East Anglia with the traffic at a standstill. Having left Lavenham about 6pm it had taken me just over an hour and a half to reach the A406 which would take me across London, west to east, and deposit me not far from where I was staying. But this prolonged delay caused me to have a re-think. Was this normal peak hour disruption or something more?

I contemplated taking another route but was a bit nervous about getting lost as it was starting to get dark….. then realised it was impossible to head off down another road anyway. I could see only gridlock in all directions.

Finally we crawled to a point where we were diverted from the A406 and up ahead I could see a massive pile-up near an overpass with ambulances and police cars in profusion. I learned the next day that 1 person had been killed and a couple seriously injured. That sort of information helps put waiting in traffic into perspective; at least I was alive and well, if a little tetchy! I had no idea then that some poor folk wouldn’t make it home that night – one of them, not ever.

Naturally, the diverted traffic travelled even more slowly as the unfamiliar road we were now on was narrower. Eventually, at….wait for it…10 pm, I decided I’d had enough – I was getting cramps in my legs. I found a place to pull over (wonders will never cease) – on the other side of the road mind you and it took me ages to get across there – outside a college with extra parking spaces for students. All of these students were sensibly at the local pub or tucked up in bed. So I’d hit the jackpot parking-wise……..the only exception to my THERE’S NEVER ANYWHERE TO PULL OVER! rant. Far be it from me to look a gift horse in the mouth but I wished the lighting had been a bit better. I had decided to stop and edit my recent photos on my laptop as it’s a time-consuming job and it appeared to be a better use of my time than sitting idly in the traffic. I foolishly thought that after 10 or 20 minutes the worst of the traffic would be cleared and then I’d drive home in peace.

Talk about stupid.

I actually had a great time playing with my photos and I’ve included a few in this post to lighten the mood somewhat….even though regular readers will have seen them before.

[For more photos and info re Lavenham go to Lavenham – anyone for a perpendicular?]

House near Lavenham

Fairytale house near Lavenham

I wasn’t giving the traffic much thought apart from the occasional glance to see if it had improved at all.

[For more photos and info re The House in the Clouds and Thorpeness go to                      Thorpeness – do I have a holiday cottage for you?!]

House in the Clouds and windmill - overlooking the golf course.

House in the Clouds and windmill – overlooking the golf course, Thorpeness, England

My outlook changed however when I checked the time and it was now 11 pm! I’d been waiting a full hour and nothing had altered. I truly began to worry then – I might still be here at 2 am waiting for it to clear. It might be dawn before I get home.

[For more photos and info re crinkle-crankle walls and the Huntingfield Arms go to             A Genuine English Country Pub]

Crinkle-crankle walls near Bramfiels, Suffolk

Crinkle-crankle walls near Bramfield, Suffolk

I decided I needed to get back into the inching traffic (if they’d let me) and make my way home even if it was painfully slow.

To cut a long story short I eventually got home at midnight and after a trip that took 6 hours instead of 3, I did my usual collapsing in a heap and breathing a sigh of relief. It sure was good to be out of that car. Again I was reminded of Top Gear. If you are going to be stuck in such awful traffic why not be in a very comfy car with all the mod cons. Makes sense.

The next morning I awake to find the sun shining in a wonderful blue sky, the blackbirds singing and a garden full of blossoms. It doesn’t get much better than this. I am due to have dinner in London with some old friends but decide to cancel – I’m a bit dubious about using public transport at night by myself. It’s mainly the return trip on the tube that bothers me. Maybe if I lived here I would get used to the idea but I’d rather visit them next week during the day on my way to stay with my friend Angela.

It disturbed me a little when I heard a news item a couple of days ago about people being assaulted on the tube as well as one about people impersonating taxi drivers who rob and/or assault passengers so I decided to stick to daytime travel when I was on my own.

The other distressing news is the outbreak of Swine Flu. When I first heard about it I contemplated flying back home to Australia on the next available flight. The problem is, of course, that the flight itself can put you at risk if there’s a carrier on board. In the end I decided to stay put and take my chances – and buy a face mask as soon as I possible. I was a bit slack in this regard and 2 days later there wasn’t a face mask to be had for love nor money. I took to carrying vast quantities of tissues everywhere with me and avoiding touching any public surfaces with my bare hands. It’s dreadful in the underground where people cough and sneeze right in your face and make NO attempt to stop the spray of moisture from hitting you.

If I so much as heard a cough or sneeze I’d run a mile, change carriages or put a big wad of tissues up to my face. It’s amazing how ignorant people are these days about the spread of infection. I remember when I was at school that it was a significant part of our education – the simple precautions to take to reduce the spread of infection such as covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough, wash your hands regularly especially before eating – nothing too onerous and it sure isn’t rocket science but how many people do it conscientiously? I can understand that younger people didn’t have it drummed into them the way my age group did so they have some excuse…but what about people my age? We know better…we should be leading by good example rather than being too darn lazy to do the right thing.

Oops! Bit of a rant eh? Must be getting tired. I’d better finish off now and break for a cuppa.


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