Thursday, 3 December 2009

1300 miles later

Whilst some might consider me mad, I'm quite pleased with what I have covered in the last three days. I've pushed my driving limits, visited places I've never been and fell in love with Skye again... The northern part of Skye that is, the southern bit still has the neon dancing girls ;-) Roll on the next roadtrip... I'll be taking Lesley next time though.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Mmmm... Mountains and Lochs

I'll say no more, what was god thinking when he let the Scots have this to themselves !

Monday, 30 November 2009

Made it before nightfall

After a slightly delayed start, with an accident on the A1(M), I went a slightly longer way to York via the M18, M62 and A19. Collected Ritchie, carried on up the A19 to Thirsk, then A1, A66, M6, A7 to Edinburgh.

Carrying on a slightly boring theme, A720 around Edinburgh, M8, M9, Forth Bridge then over towards Stirling onto the A84, A85 and finally A827 to our inn for the night. Got a great sunset picture, some snaps of the raging river next to the inn too. Looks like we are the only guests in tonight !!!! Food looks tasty though.

Weather has been great, dry clear skies all the way from Scotch Corner, but it's rather cold :-/

York traffic

Yay, stuck on the A19 trying to get into York.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

All packed, well almost

Got my bag packed, the batteries for the camera and camcorder are on charge, maps and magazines are ready to go, car washer jets topped up, just need to fuel her up !

Where am I going ? Well heading of up the A1, picking up my roadtrip partner up in York, across the A66, back along the A7, north via the Forth Bridge and A9 to Tayside where we are booked into a pub overlooking the river. Next day push north to Ullapool via all those lovely Scotish A Roads, then work back via some coastal roads to Plockton (yes, location for The Wicker Man), where we have another pub booked, then head back to York the next day via some more coastal roads and perhaps the A68.. Depends on the weather ;-)

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Scottish Breakfast 2 - The Return !

Heading up north again soon, at risk of making the thoughts on these pages an inquest into the state of the breakfast industry, I've spun things around and booked two places that suggest a full cooked breakfast, could these places return Scotland to the fore, could next week be the turning point of Scottish morning catering ? Watch this space as these and other questions are answered !

Friday, 23 October 2009

Bad ole breakfast

Having just returned from Scotland, I'm left with a bad taste in so far as this... What are businesses thinking when they present a guest with a tatty buffet breakfast, with nasty gritty eggs, limp bacon and a toaster in the corner for toasting your own !

Now call me a snob, but for the extra cost of a freshly cooked breakfast, with egg of choice and a selection of ready toasted toast must be peanuts ! I'm making a note for myself to always check in advance about just what sort of breakfast is available. After all it sets your attitude for the whole day.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

The upgrader !

True to form, we check in and get an upgrade, a nice suite room, with a view of Loch Lomond and nicely decorated ! What more could I ask for ? Oh yeah, we have a great big bath too ;-) Mmmm...

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Who said Scotland wasn't sunny ?

Just who was it again who claimed Scotland was always cold and rainy ? Just sat on a beach overlooking Solway Firth... Last night was nice, mobile signal free zone, so we had to find other things to occupy ourselves ;-)

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Sods Law

Why is it that everytime I start to look at doing some accident reduction work on a road, start to think, "hmmm... Not really that bad along here", bang, we have a serious accident that pushes me into action. Some might call me the grim reaper ?

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Economic crisis over ?

Given my mobile has been very quiet for the last 12 months, during which time the entire global economy has been in meltdown, it comes as a shining light at the end of the tunnel that my phone has been alive with the sound of recruitment agents calling about jobs for the last week... A sign that they are desparate or a sign that the global economy has restarted ? Here's hoping it's the latter ;-)

Easing into winter

Winter is never easy, so it's always nice to ease into the dark months with a few days away. We are heading up to Loch Lomond for a couple of days later on the month, staying an extra night on the way up in North Yorkshire and a fourth night on the way back in Cumbria.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Been to the beach

Had a nice few hours on the beach, it was sunny (obviously we didn't have Dave with us), although the wind was blowing a tad too much for sun bathing !

Essentially completed a round tour of the North Norfolk coast, Wells by the Seas, Hotham Beach, Hunstanton (hmm, not nice) and then Fakenham (again not nice and all closed for the day). Currently sat chilling in our loft room in Holt, the sun is beaming through the velux along with the smell of tasty food from downstairs ;-)

Friday, 4 September 2009

And of course.... The bathroom

No prizes for guessing what I'll be having after dinner ;-) complete with bubbles, wine and some soft classical music !

The snug

The view

A few days away

Taken a few days away in Norfolk, as you can see, I'm laid on the bed chilling already !

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Back to normal ?

After five weeks away from work - ok, so I was there for three days in the middle - getting my head back into the work mode was never going to be easy ! I'd like to be able to say that I charged in and got back in the driving seat without a hitch, but alas, I haven't. I've now completed a full week, several design briefs completed, several small schemes are back on track and I'm about ready to hit the ground and face live fire on Monday ;-)

In the mean time though, I'm currently laid out, chilling, we have just had a minor tidy, shopping completed this morning and waiting for John to turn up for tea. Practically just like before I was married, or is it ? I've an odd unexplainable feeling in me, something I never expected to have last month, a feeling of being grown up, or should I say, not quite a bloke, more a man ? I'm not sure, but whatever the feeling, I seem to be cooking tea more !

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Lesley in the hot seat

The wedding went completely to plan, the venue was as good as it gets, food fantastic, staff very attentive and all the guests appeared to enjoy the whole thing. As for us, we loved every minute of the wedding. We are now heading south to Kent to spend our second night as a married couple on the first day of our honeymoon... And as you can see from the picture, I'm already in the passenger seat ;-) that's marriage I guess !

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Awesome !

Was out on site today, usual mundane site visit looking at signs on a rural bend high up on the A6033 when suddenly the guy I was on site with drew my attention to an approaching Harrier Jump Jet coming in at a low level ! We were both in high vis yellow waistcoats and as the jet flew low over us the pilot dipped each wing to say hello ! A truely awesome sight to see especially one being made by probably my favorite aircraft ! Made my week !

Friday, 15 May 2009

Just another week... not quite...

Its been quite an odd week, it was rounded off by hearing the news that the chap who gave me my first real job had passed away. Jeff Cowley will be remembered by many, sometimes for the wrong reasons as many people didn't get on with him, but what Jeff represented to me was a feeling of knowing where you stand. Jeff never lied to me, he never misled me, he often defended me and others, knowing that we were in the wrong.

Jeff was an Architect for Sheffield City Council, he put practicalities first, often upsetting the other Architects in the office, but perhaps Jeff's greatest achievement was helping to get the World Student Games to Sheffield in 1991, he attended the 1987 games in Sarajevo and worked hard in enabling the games in Sheffield to take place. The world is sadly lacking people like Jeff, who "tell it as it is". Farewell Jeff !

Another hit this week was the visit to hospital with mum, she has been freefalling for a few years now towards dialysis and if soon to go onto a transplant list, the words mean little to most, but actually getting into the details was quite a reality check for us both. Makes my cold and cough pale into insignificance really...

Sunday, 10 May 2009

1000, 2000, 3000, Check Canopy !

Well they say thats good advice for jumping out of an aircraft... Everything appears to be coming together for a very mad few months through May, June and July, what possibly could go wrong !

I've made loose arrangements for the 30th May to have a stroll around Sheffield by way of a "Stag Day", I have a few days in Gdansk in early June, then a 9 day tour of England, Wales and Scotland, culmanating in a mad dash on the 21st June from John o Groats to Lands End, then I get married in July followed by a glorious two weeks touring France, Italy and Switzerland.

Everything is booked bar a few little details, who said weddings were stressful, well perhaps its the paying for them that gets you ;¬)

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Went for a little drive and ran out of country !

Went for a bit of a drive last Sunday, well it was sunny, so we packed an overnight bag, filled a cool bag, popped the camera and a few other bits in the car (including a handful of paper maps) and off we went... Which way, left or right I asked...

We headed down the A616 to Ollerton, then south on the A614, picking up the A6097 to the A46 and following all the way down to just short of the M1. Avoiding the motorway, I picked up the B4114, then the classic B4455 Fosse Way all the way through to Halford, then taking a route across to Welford-on-Avon, picking the B4632 up through Broadway, Winchcombe, Cleeve Hill to Cheltenham.

Heading further west, along the A40, we turned off before Ross-on-Wye to visit Symonds Yat (open early after engineering works due to the recent TV coverage) and them picked up the A466 down the Wye Valley, past Tintern Abbey. At Chepstow, we started thinking about where we should stay that night, it was turned 5pm, so we continued a short while on the A48 towards M4 J24 before I remembered a place that I'm stopping at in June in Pembrooke Stackpole Inn. So we finally hit the motorway for a dash to Pembrooke via the M4, A48, A40 then the odd A477 and some little back roads... A glorious sunny days drive.

Next morning, a touch mistly and after a great breakfast, we did a bit of a tour around the area, B4319 (avoiding the tanks playing at shelling each other), back along the B4320, then up via Pembrook Dock and St Brides Bay running along the coastal unclassified routes to pick up the A487 at Newgale to St David's and onto Fishguard. The route home was opening up along the now primary A487 via Cardigan, Aberaeron and turning off onto the A44 at Aberystwyth. The climb over the hills was fun, but foggy enough to slow my progress, I managed to find several passing places along this section, a great drive until we hit the much busier A470, my progress slowed a little by slow natives along the A470 and A483 ;¬) The sat nav was suggesting I took a route home via Manchester and the Woodhead, then came up with a even less favourable route via Leek and Buxton (fine in the light, not so much fun when tired at night).

We decided to ditch the advice and headed up the A458 to Shrewbury, the sat nav going bonkers with all sorts of odd route combinations, onto the A5 bypass, where a little 1.6 Proton did its best to race me from the roundabouts - not much chance against my 272bhp ! The A5 led onto the M54, to the A460 and the M6T, we stopped at Norton Canes, perhaps the nicest service area I know to have a Latte, Panini and bun from Costa, I had to buy some maps just for the sheer hell of it ;¬) then headed home, I was torn between the A38 and jams at Derby or the A5/M42/M1 and the 50mph roadworks - I took the A38 to find the jams had gone by 6:30pm, then headed home on the last leg fueled by a bottle of coke and fruit pastels along the A61, M1 and finally back on the A6135 to home !

A great drive of about 650 miles in two days, set me up for the challenges of my two long road tours in June and July, but I paid the price, I was shattered on getting home, but my mind was too active to let me sleep, tuesday was a blur but I slept well on Tuesday night :¬)

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Google Street View captures true crimes !

Some of us are born lucky, but some born very unlucky, so how would it feel if on a empty rural dual carriageway your little lad was caught short, well, you would chance your hand and get him to have a tinkle next to the road, yes ?

No one will ever know would they ??? or would they ?

Saturday, 14 March 2009

4000 Mile Honeymoon

As some of you will know, I'm not one to do things by half if I can help it... so true to spirit, I'll be heading off on my Honeymoon with Lesley around France, Italy and back via the Swiss and French Alps...

I've started a specific blog called 4000 Mile Honeymoon, so do drop along and see what our Honeymoon turns out like...

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Road to my first Million ?

After spending the last few months on my desk, begging to have it's pages thumbed, I finally found time to read a book I bought sometime well before Christmas, called "How to make a Million from Property", by Gary McCausland. Sadly, whilst promising plenty on the cover, the meat inside is mostly what I had already figured out from the school of life. But, it's good to know that I'm thinking like a developer, now if only I could find that £20k I need to get things moving......

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Working Buzz

For the first week in ages, I've felt a real buzz about being at work, not sure if it's the coming of spring or if I'm feeling ill but there is certainly something going off ! I actually worked a full ten and a half hour day today too, that's been unheard of since well before Christmas, let's hope I can keep the pace up... Well for a few weeks at least !

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Summer is here !

Well perhaps not, but it's lovely and sunny here today, getting me in the mood for doing things and getting out of the house after what seemed a long dark winter. Roll on spring, BBQ's, drinks on the decking and lazy evenings watching the sun drop below the horizon.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Quick note to Gordon

At what point does a road become number one priority for an upgrade ? I'd love to know the answer, because having being stuck today at three points on the Yorkshire motorway network that are in dire need of extra capacity, I'm wanting to grab the MP responsible, place them in a room with 1000's of other cross motorists and see what affect that has on future work !

My typical journey, three or four times a week is more or less fine in the morning, if I leave home at 6am ! But coming home, there are three sections that really get me cross, first is the M62 J26-27, which has been the scene of a innovative waste of money called a HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) Lane, which must be the most abused restriction in the entire country and done nothing for the journey times on the M62.

The second, on the M1 heading from Lofthouse (J42) to J41 is also an object lesson in how not to design motorways. Granted, back in the 1970's I'm sure this section was a great improvement over using the old a roads, but now, an inordinate number of vehicles have to weive here, with three lanes of vehicles joining from the southbound J42 slip wanting lanes two and three and half a city coming down the M1 wanting to leave at J41. This mind numbing experience each day strikes me as one of the hot top 10 locations on the network that if improved, could contribute in save time alone to the billions wasted on the banks.

Last up, the M1 passes Sheffield, whilst three lanes of motorway have been great between Wakefield and Sheffield, approaching the Tinsley Viaduct, the motorway loses capacity to a shopping centre ! Now dont get me wrong here, the shopping centre generates enough traffic to warrant a whole lane, if not two, but that shouldn’t be at cost to the strategic shipping of goods and the long haul drivers that face this nightmare daily.

So what’s the solution ? I say damn the banks, if a bank goes under, good riddance, let the government take over the mortgage loans, gaining income from the population and use the £100's of Billions being pumped into paperclips and champagne dinners back into industry to build roads and homes, manufacture bridges and structures, maintain crumbling infrastructure and create jobs.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Well would you credit it ?

Had a call today from a hotel I'm staying at in June. I was a little cautious at first, the caller was via a mobile, began asking me if I had given my credit card details when I made the booking, I suspected a scam, but was wrong, the caller worked for the hotel and explained that the hotel had intruders in the night who had taken the whole safe, inside which could have been my credit card number, 3 digit code, expiry date, name an address ! To avoid any dodgy dealings, I phoned my bank to get the card cancelled ! Makes you wonder just how many times you details are actually aquired without your knowledge and just how much risk you really are at from credit card fraud ?

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Last of the snow ?

Just when we think it's all over, the cloulds close in and the fluffy white stuff starts to fill the air. Driving through the snow on the motorway at a reasonable motorway speed always gives me a buzz, perhaps it's because it looks so fresh, perhaps it's the science fiction look of going into hyperspace or maybe just the unique geometric patterns of the falling particles.... Have you got the feeling that I like the snow ? Yeah of course I do, sadly it would seem the last of the snow has passed us by.... Well just for this year at least.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Yellow snow ?

What do you get when you empty your camera memory card ? Photos that you forgot that you had taken of course... Here is one of the snow in our back garden

iPhone a gogo

New toys have to be played with, so now I can post from my iPhone which although initially seems a little geeky, I hope to use this method of posting when I go on my two mega road trips in the summer.

The first is a run around the UK, visiting places on the south coast and in Wales that I've never visited before, finishing with a mad dash from John O Groats to Lands End in 15hrs.... Can it be done ???

The second will be my honeymoon, so perhaps not as well reported, but never the less, I'm under instruction to keep the family updated on our progress around France, Italy and the Swiss Alps.

Read all about it in my second blog -

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Frustrated Traffic Engineer

Many people ask me what my dream job is... I reply that I'd love to design and build roads, to which they say, isn't that what you do? Well the cold truth is that although I am an Engineer that is involved with the design, construction and management of the highway, it is becoming increasingly rare to be able to do what I originally got into the industry to do, that is, build roads...

Perhaps I've missed the golden age of road building, perhaps my aspirations are higher than the reality of life, but I'm often at odds with what I say in private and what I say to the public. As each year goes by, we are increasingly faced with more congestion on our roads, we spend more time in traffic queues that seemingly have no cause. We have more comfortable and powerful cars than ever before, yet we are more frustrated by the steel cage that we call a car.

I've become more mindful of the concept that perhaps traffic congestion has become too difficult for simpletons to understand and too costly for the tax payer to fund... so where do we go? We have a choice, we either continue into the black hole that we are currently heading, or we look to box clever and develop a vision for our children to inherit. I'm not simply talking about a big master plan for building new roads, I'm thinking about all aspects of our lives and how we use transport, how we shop and how we socialise. Transport is at the heart of modern day life, we need to embrace the reality that personal transport is here to stay, that short local trips could be made on foot, that anything over half a mile, for most, the car is the first choice and that public transport can only be a success when the alternatives are vastly more inconvenient and expensive.

Whats a round tuit ?

We have a phrase in Sheffield when asked by our better halves if we have done something we should have done, days, weeks, even months ago... the male Sheffielders reply with "I haven't got a round tuit yet", so whats the solution ? I was given a steel plate with the phrase "A round tuit" written on the front, so now I've no excuse for not doing things and given that most of my musings are generally road related and that our roads in the UK are generally have no vision, it seems like a suitable name for a page...

A blog ?

After more than 10 years of having a website, I felt to myself that it was high time I looked at contributing to a blog. The website has been my form of diary for many years, but like all of technology innovations, where do you find the time to keep such things up to date ? So, here I am, hopefully I'll keep things more current, but probably end up posting more irrelevance and waffle than I did before... Anyways, welcome to my blog !