A van for all seasons
This week: A van for all reasons; Crossing continents; Drive, drive, drive: Congestion;
Just for a change, I am writing this week’s blog “on the run”. It is early Saturday morning and this is ahead of the votes which will take place in the British Parliament later today about BREXIT and the deal offered by the European Union to Great Britain.
BREXIT has already caused casualties and there will be more, without doubt.
Just as I was trying to load the photographs, late on Saturday, I found I couldn’t. Eventually tec support solved the problem, but it means I am later than usual with the blog this week….
A van for all reasons
I have been will my ornithologist neighbour Steve, crossing 8 European countries in a van with his worldly goods this week.
He has made the difficult decision to put his home in Dol on the market and move back to the UK. He has been packing boxes for weeks and at the start of he week we loaded them into a hire van for the journey back to the UK.
Sharing the driving, and driving day and night (cue another yawn) we are now on the final leg of the journey back to Dol.
I took the opportunity whilst in the UK to collect a range of things I need and bring them back.
Since the UK referendum to leave the European Union, the purchasing power of the £ound after exchange into Kunas – our local currency because although in the EU, Croatia does not yet use the Euro – has dropped by almost 30%.
It made sense to buy in a range of supplies for DiY projects, especially materials which are impossible to get here or are less expensive in the UK.
So although the van went on the outward journey well filled with furniture and personal belongings, it has come back in the same state.
I programmed a Garmin GPS unit with the route segments and it has proved to be a useful and reliable tool.
I grew up using paper maps and still have a large collection. However the moment you purchase a paper map, it is out of date. The producers of maps only re-print once there have been a sufficient number of amendments to make it financially viable.
With digital maps, residing in an electronic device, they can be updated regularly and quickly on-line
At one point in the journey, our route was changed “on the fly” at the same time as we saw three ambulances and a command car fighting through three lanes of almost stationary traffic on the German Autobahn.
The device had picked up a DAB broadcast of some sort, about a serious crash and had worked out a short detour around the blockage.
It bleeped and changed the route we were following. Some of these devices are just a little bit too clever! But in the event, although adding 8 kilometres to the journey, we were taken through a beautiful part of the Black Forest, which we would never have otherwise seen.
With a paper map, you could of course see any number of alternative routes, but never when a dynamic road closure has taken place.
Following the diversion we were deposited on the clear side of the blockage and lost little time.
Drive, drive, drive
There has been little time to do much more than load and unload boxes. But I did go to a favourite local garden centre.
R V Rogers are renown for their bulbs – and yes I did bring some back – but in the autumn they have a display of all the local fruits which are grown.
People can take a variety of apple or pear in for an expert to identify and name and there is a shop selling produce.
Even on a trip with a purpose, you need a bit of R&R…
There are just too many vehicles on the road.
From around 04:00 there are hundreds of trucks, in line astern, on both carriageways. By 06:30 the cars increase for the morning commute, reaching a creshendo until around 9am.
Then the traffic settled down to a steady flow until you meet roadworks. There is a lot of construction going on in Germany from south of Köln to Austria.
By early afternoon, the number of trucks thins out as the drivers reach their statutory rest periods.
There is a build up of commuters from 15:30 but by 21:00 the roads quieten and overnight you are on your own.
Throughout Europe, except the UK, there is a project to get drivers to make a lane for emergency vehicles, anywhere there is queuing traffic.
Banners hang from overhead bridges, usually in the local language and English and it is clearly having an effect. As soon as traffic slows, drivers in the outside lane move their left wheels into the gap between the white line and the central median strip.
Drivers in the other lanes move move to the right, creating a corridor for the emergency services. It works, because drivers do not wait until there is an emergency. You see them moving, regardless of the cause.
But when an emergency vehicle needs to get through it can.
What is clearly a pan-European campaign has been ignored in the UK. I cannot understand why because there is the same build up of traffic on UK roads too!
It’s nice to be back. Not much has changed in Dol this week. We have not had any rain.
The sky is still blue, the trees continue to loose their leaves and I need to empty the van and put everything away. NRC