Recently a roundabout near me was undergoing roadworks. For 15 weeks. Over a quarter of a year. Surely you could dig the whole thing up and re-build it in less time.
Of course, this shouldn’t be a surprise. We’re all used to seeing miles of cones these days and sod all happening. Or workmen leaning on spades.
We’ve truly become a nation of charging lots of money for doing sod all.
So there I was driving Birmingham way (someone has to). Walsall has some roadworks on at the moment. Estimated to last TWO YEARS.
Just reeling from that one, I pass a slip road for the M6 which is closed. For 20 months. Again, nearly 2 years for a SLIP ROAD.
What in the name of all that is holy is going on here? What can anyone be possibly doing to a slip road that will take 20 months. Seriously. It’s been months since it was closed and, as yet, I’ve seen nothing happening.
Yes, I’ve fiddled with the Blog. But it’s currently still working so I must play further.
Meantime I’ve been distracted by my copy of Lego Star Wars 2 for the PS2 dropping through my letterbox (or rather it did yesterday). Much playing later and I’m 10% through already. The game is ridiculously easy but mind-numbingly good.
John turns up at my door at 9:15. We hump his stuff into my car and we set off at 9:30.
The autochanger was loaded up with our faves and we soon hit the A38 and then the A50. Thankfully, I’d turned on the traffic reporting because it was soon reported that there was an accident on the M6. So John, atlas in hand, diverted us further up the A50 and where we could join the M6 after the problems. It took us quite a while to divert around (mainly due to the limited speeds) but we were soon back on track watching the south-bound traffic at a standstill. We got to the rendezvous point – a pub called the Longlands Hotel, near to the cottages – at 12:15 (15 minutes after we were due to meet). Much to our surprise we were the first there. Soon after more turned up – all people who had taken alternative routes without knowing about the M6. We assumed the worst but it turned out that M6 hadn’t been that bad after all. The journey was 120 miles in total.
We order some “bar snacks”. I asked for a BLT baguette and got half a pig, a whole lettuce, a field of tomatoes all wrapped in enough loaf to feed the 5000. It was superb food though.
In the meantime John and I decided to make use of the pool table. One small problem, the cue ball and two of the other balls were missing. No problem – Luis shows us how to play 9 ball, using one of the remainder as a cue. The only issue being that everytime the cue ball was potted it wouldn’t be ejected back to us. So we had a limited supply of cue-balls !
After about an hour or so at the pub most had turned up. Stuart had collected the keys so in dribs-and-drabs we headed up to the cottages. It soon became apparent that our cottage was maybe not as suitable as the “party cottage” as we thought as, unlike most of the others, our living and dining areas were walled off and not open into one. Still, we stuck with the decision and soon had lights hanging from every wall, inside and out. Stuart supplied the hi-fi and everybody started to bring around buffet food.
It was quite late when the party finally got started and most people, nicely costumed, arrived. Those that I can remember :
Claire – Patsy (Ab-Fab)
Chris – Dr Kildare
Guy – Dr Kildars patient (this was apparently due to Guy not turning up with a costume !!)
Anita – Hilda Ogden
Pete – Bob the Builder
Lynn & Ruth – Charlie Dimmock
Stuart / Jacqui / Fi / Luis – The Flintstones
Moi and John Carley – Vic and Bob
Me again – Dom Jolly
Cheryl – Yvette (Ello Ello)
Jane – Po (Tellytubbies)
Once food and drink had been consumed myself and John put on a performance of Shooting Stars, posing amusing and appropriate questions to the gathered “guests” !
Then an initiation ceremony for the “weekend away virgins” (i.e. myself, John C and Chris). This consisted of each one of us in turn being blindfolded and brought into a room filled with everybody else and being asked a series of questions. Except it was always the same question – “remove something you wasn’t wearing in bed last night”. Chris went first and apparently totally stripped. I was next and got as far as trouser removal before I twigged – you remove the blindfold !! John was last and got it quite quickly. However, most suspect he was tipped off by Ruth. Once we’d rumbled their ruse we then had to read a pledge.
This was followed by prizes – I won best mail fancy dress and, I think, Jane was best female but I may be wrong there.
Quite a lot of people finished the party quite early and it was left to only a handful of us to keep going until 3am. Cheryl fell asleep on the settee.
Urrrgghhhh. Hangovers. But the day was started well in our cottage by a hearty fried breakfast. It was about 11 o’clock though by this time. Jane, Mike, David and Anthea shot off quite early to do their own thing and Anita went off to Morecombe (to see the statue of the comedian who bares their name !). The rest of us headed off to Blackpool.
A route was arranged by Steve who promptly managed to get lost. The rest of us all met up at a pub, where Guy and Chris remained as they wanted to watch the rugby. The remainder of us headed into Blackpool proper with the intention of meeting up once there. I was in Claires car along with Stuart and we followed Luis, Fi and Jackie. The six of us went down to the, erm, sea. Cold, mucky brown and choppy is the most pleasant way I can think to describe it !
We met up with everybody else at an Oyster bar where Pete was enjoying himself with the various fish delicacies. Cheryl had already caused some customers to leave after asking Pete, who had just bought some oysters, whether you chew of swallow them ! Apparently, some reference to them looking like snot was also made and I think they lost even more custom ! A coffee later and we set off for the Pleasure Beach. It was the first weekend of opening so all the rides were £1. As the most expensive, usually, we headed for The Big One – when opened in 1994 if was the worlds tallest and fastest roller coaster at 235ft and 85mph. Not everybody wanted to go on and they went off to do their own thing. But a hardened band of us queued. It was a long queue but we guessed it would take about an hour. An hour later we got to the turnstiles only to find another, longer, queue on the other side. But, nope, we were determined – we were going to queue no matter how long it took ! Soon it began to rain. But after 2 hours of queueing we were nearly there – cold and wet – but nearly there. We were literally a dozen people away from the entrance when…. it broke down. So we then had to queue to leave.
Well, that finished most people off and they set back to the cottages. Myself, Luis, Stuart and Jacqui remained – hot dogs, chips and coffee were the first order of call followed by a few arcades. Then we had a brilliant idea – the log flume had just opened and surely we couldn’t get any more wet. Except, of course, the flume had been closed all winter whilst it rained. It was rather full. Less so by the time we’d finished the ride as most of the flume contents were then soaked into our clothes, hair, skin and anything else the least bit porous. We slopped around a few more arcades, hoping to dry off until giving up.
I was glad to get back to the cottage, dry off and change my clothes. Meanwhile, Ruth ordered Pizzas. Or “those bloody pizzas” as they’re probably now called. They tasted odd at the time and Ruth being violently ill that night kind of confirmed our fears that they weren’t of the highest quality.
That evenings entertainment was around at Claires cottage – various amusing games, etc. Highlights of the night included Luis “borrowing” a ladder as well as Fi being wound up something chronic by Stuart. Oh, and a great compo where we all had to eat a chocolate coated cherry. Except that some had chilli inside and not cherry. Poor old Claire was the first to be unlucky !
At 2am I headed back to my cottage to watch the Australian GP. John Maddison had set up his 37″ Scaletrix to keep us entertained during the ads. A shame really that John promptly fell asleep ! Managed to get to bed at 5am.
Up at 9:30 as John was making bacon butties for us all. A quick shower, boots strapped on and we were ready for the traditional Sunday walk. Stuart had it all planned – a 5 mile walk that would end in us arriving at the Longlands Hotel for a traditional Sunday lunch. Unfortunately, Stuarts plans didn’t quite go to plan and after much walking back the way we had just come, we chopped out a chunk of the journey – although the whole thing still took us the planned couple of hours. We were kept entertained, though, by Fi wearing flat shoes and a highlight inappropriate creme coat (which she had to keep taking off so she didn’t get it mucky !).
The lunch was superb but many wussed out and got a lift back. I plodded back, via the canal, with Fi (after she’d fixed her make-up), Steve and Cheryl.
Again, that night we all went to Claires cottage for more quizzes and games. The evening ended with the most drunk version of Jenga I’ve ever experienced !
Oh, and, of course, the viewing of the Gummi Bear video !
Packed and out of the cottage by 10am. Most of us (all bar 6) met at a motorway Little Chef for breakfast before making our final departure.
Bizarrely we went straight back via the M6 and it took 140 miles. But both John and I were home early afternoon. I think I finally got unpacked sometime the next week !
This is all about my holiday with my sister, Julie, (commencing the 23rd of September) to Majorca.
Kicked off the day quite early by leaving mid-morning to drive to South Leverton from Derby (about 60 miles away). This is near to where I grew up and where my favourite hair-dresser is ! Got my locks cut at about mid-day and headed off to my mums (about another 20 miles) near Lincoln. Yacked for most of the afternoon before leaving with my sister just after 6pm.