Sunday, May 01, 2011

A long day

See these guys? You've heard of them. So, why are they in my blog? Well, it all starts with a rather ordinary day. I woke at 7, had a bath, and eventually got number one son out of bed by 10, when we were due to drive daughter to work and him to see his girlfriend in Birmingham.

All the way to Brum was easy. He and I had a nice chat, the traffic was easy. The Sat Nag took us up the M6 and then the M48 - not my preferred route, should have gone off the A46 to our particular destination. No matter, I like arguing with the sat nag.

I dropped Alex off, turned around and headed straight back. It was about 12.45 by then. Sat nag said 'go this way' - I ignored and headed for the A46. Then the A45. Wonderful! Then sat nag took me on to the M1. OK, I can cope with that.

Well, right up until we got to Silverstone I could cope with that. 'Slow, Pedestrians in Road' said the big overhead sign. What?! Well, we slowed just past the turn off for the services. We slowed, then we stopped.

Something was up ahead, and there was no turn off for us to escape. We waited for 10 mins, then 15. Most people turned their cars off then. The sun was beating down. Three lanes of stationary traffic. And not a bean in the other carriageway either. Whatever it was had closed the entire motorway.

30 minutes. An hour. We are out of our cars, wandering up and down, talking to eachother and seeing who was going to be late for what. Some motorbikes cruised down the gaps, irritated by the open car doors. But they didn't get any further when they got to the traffic stop which we could see in the distance. Flashing lights, just below a green bridge.

The beautiful sun beat down on the hot tarmac and hot children, dogs and other motorway creatures were seranaded by the muffled tannoy and achingly annoying permanent 'vroom' of the nearby racetrack.

Amazingly, no one lost their tempers. One story reached us that someone was on the bridge threatening to jump. Another said an accident, someone else said protestors. I don't know. But I do know that for two hours I was parked on Britain's busiest motorway, with several hundred others.

I stood in the fast lane. I chatted with various people, including a huge guy in a green tracksuit from the tour bus ahead. Yes, one of the Harlem Globe Trotters (I think he's third from left on the ground in this pic, but somewhat older and a little heavier now). I wish they'd got out and given us a show! Imagine the news coverage an impromptu show on a motorway would have gotten them. Instead we had kids playing football on the other carriageway, and an old man walking his dog. At one point we saw a cyclist heading full speed down the other carriageway (the wrong way). It was all getting rather surreal.

The Harlem Globetrotter guy was nice, from Washington. A bit worried as they had a show at Wembley at 6pm. Tomorrow was Belgium... Radio and internet reports said 'the M1 will be closed till 3.15. Till 4.15. Till 4.30...' Eventually the highway folks gave up. And for the first time ever we had to do a three point turn on the motorway and drive the wrong way back up the hard shoulder.

I didn't folow the diversion back onto the M1 -that was anightmare. I cut across to Northampton and then home that way.

I eventually got home at 6pm. That's a helluva long day for a simple round trip to Birmingham and back. - yup, it was a jumper! We thought we were having a bad day, hers must have been worse.
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