Tag Archives: driving

letters to the editor – don’t let them buy these vehicles


Many years ago I attended training in order to improve my two wheeled skills, for in those days one could ride certain motor cycles on the road without having to pass a two wheel test. One of the key lessons was that one should obtain a motor cycle that was appropriate to one’s size; the principle being that you needed to be able to put your feet on the ground when at rest and the point was ably demonstrated by one of the instructors who was about five foot two. It was something that the dealerships also took seriously and would try hard to dissuade buyers from choosing a bike that they would find hard to manage. Continue reading


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Filed under Letters to the Editor - I think we should be told, random rants

going back to green commuting

It’s a quarter to seven in the morning. It’s cold, misty and dark where the street lights have been turned off to save money. I walk through to the main road and the oasis of light that is my local ‘bus stop. I’m early, but have erred on the safe side as I don’t do this often. I’m no stranger to this time of the morning; I’m often well on my way somewhere by now, but that is mostly in my car whereas today I am green commuting, heading off to start a new contract and making a journey that is going to become a regular one for me; the local bus to the town centre, walk to the railway station, catch a train and walk to the office. Continue reading

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Filed under about me, business life, cars planes and trains

thanks heavens for RingGo even if first great western don’t want to help cusomers

Having written here recently about FGW dropping the RingGo service from their car parks I was delighted this week to find RingGo available in Eastleigh in a council car park and at Portsmouth in an NCP. Excellent news on days when I had no change.

Nice to know that some folks are not as short sighted as First Great Western when it comes to making life easy for people.

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the joys of motoring #26

Jennifer Jaguar sailed through her MoT test today. Lately she has been looked after by a family business down in Portsmouth where I’m working a lot, and it’s nice to know that all the TLC has been paying off. The old girl went through the 100,000 miles barrier last month, although I’ve only contributed a little under half that.

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The joys of motoring #6

So there I was, heading off up the M5 in Jennifer Jaguar with plenty of time to get round Brum and to my seminar around the M42/M6 interchange when the warning signs told me that the M5 was closed between junctions 6 and 5. Oh, well. Off at J8 and across via Pershore, Evesham and Stratford upon Avon and pick up the route again from that side.

Why is it that some idiot has failed to manage to drive along a piece of road where we’re all going the same way without driving into something? I know that I’ve asked  this before, but I do get the feeling that some people have to take their brains out before they get behind the wheel.

Despite my having left with time in hand I got to where I was going an hour later than planned. Not too bad under the circumstances, but I reckon I could have shaved another 15 minutes off that if it wasn’t for two other pieces of brainless activity (or non activity actually) on the part of my fellow car peddlers.

Firstly, why is it that so many people arrive at a roundabout and then stop and look to see if anyone is coming? Look as you are getting there and you can see whether or not you need to stop. If there’s no need to stop, then don’t.

Then there is the traffic light brigade, the worst example of which this morning was in Evesham. I’m eight cars back in the queue at a red light. The lights change. What seemed like three days later the person at the front woke up and moved off. A couple of the others followed fairly promptly, but the rest had to think about it. The bloke in front of me must have had to get the manual out to see which pedals did what as the one in front of him had almost got through the lights before he moved. And then the inevitable; he’s 30 feet from the lights and they start to change. All of a sudden he’s realised what the pedal on the right does and he goes for it, and is undeterred as the lights go red just before he gets there. Through he goes as I coast to a halt at the line.

So thanks to all you people who each wasted a few more seconds of my life again today, and thanks also to whoever caused the problem on the M5. I only missed 40 minutes of the seminar that I’d paid £400 (plus VAT) for because I know my way around and could find a different way. One of my fellow delegates wasn’t sure enough to try a diversion and missed three hours of the seminar.

The joys of motoring?

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Motorsportmania blog goes live this weekend!

Over this weekend I will be moving my motoring and motor sport (auto racing) posts over onto a new blog, Motorsport Mania here on WordPress. Motorsport Mania

This will allow those who are following my motoring mutterings to do so without having all of the other stuff that apears on John’s Jottings cluttering up their message boxes.

The new blog will feature all of my car related stuff from this weekend onwards and I’ll have a look at building a page of links back to the various motor sport and driving blog entries from the JJ site.

So that will be the place to go for my thoughts on current matters in F1, NASCAR, Indy and other types of racing and, expecially as I’m doing some other writing at present (Truck & Driver took an article from me last week for future publication for example), I’ll mention these as and when they come up.

Thanks to my followers, and I look forward to your comments on the the new blog as it gets under way.

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what price 15 feet of tarmac?

Pretty much every Saturday morning it is my pleasure to treat the Wokingham Wonder to a run out so that I can buy her a late breakfast and give her the chance to spend her pension.

We don’t go quite as far afield as we used to, but we have a selection of decent city or town centres all no more than 45 to 50 miles from home and that provide a nice run through the Cotswolds, the Mendips or over the Marlborough Downs. So a nice relaxed drive will see us parking up at our destination of choice about an hour after I’ve fired up Jennifer Jaguar on the driveway at home.

Now I say a nice relaxed drive, and that is what I aim at. On the dual carriageway I can lock down cruise control at 70 mph (indicated, actually about 67.5) and drive for much of the distance with the occasional touch  of the thumb on the Resume button to get us out and back into the cruise.

But every Saturday for the last 5 weeks we’ve passed at least one accident site on the way home (one black Saturday there were three in the space of 20 miles). Flashing lights, clumps of people standing round with mobile phones pressed to their ears, emergency services in attendance and bits of car and assorted fluids to avoid.

Amongst the common denominators are that these accidents have all been at either where a dual carriageway narrows to single, or at an exit or entrance slip road (or ramp for my US readers) and that they have all been the result of someone desperate to shove their way in or out of the traffic.

So what price are these people paying for that extra 15 feet of tarmac that they were so desperate to occupy? Not only has someone spoiled their own day out they have ruined someone else’s and, if the traffic tailback gets heavy, inconvenienced many others. And then there are longer term consequences for all parties in terms of loss of transport, cost and so on (as well as for all of us in the rising cost of our insurance cover).

Does it really matter that much to overtake just one more car before the exit? Can you not just slow and lose a couple of seconds to make sure that you join the traffic flow safely?

Trading a bit of paint and a bit of panel damage seems to me to be a pretty stupid value to put on a short piece of highway, but in one accident site we passed yesterday someone was so desperate for a short stretch of Mr McAdam’s finest that they traded their life.

So I’ll ask again; what price 15 feet of tarmac?

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new amazon eStore open today

One of my business connections, Transport Books & Models, has opened its eStore on Amazon today. Check the Transport Books & Models link on the right of this page.

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Filed under auto racing and motor sport, Books & Reading, business life, cars planes and trains, F1, The Joys of Shopping

nice to be back in Scotland #li

I like Scotland. My first visit was to Galloway on holiday with the family and I was able to trace some of the roots of Richard Hannay’s adventures in the first half of the 39 Steps ad well as tracking down some of the old Port Road.

My first flight was to Aberdeen, returning a couple of days later from Edinburgh and I went on to shuttle back and forth to Edinburgh or Glasgow (and Belfast, but that’s another story) so often I was on first name terms with many of the cabin crew.

It was during all these trips that the Wonder of Wokingham and I got together in Edinburgh, so no wonder I have many fond memories.

This time we (a colleague and I) have had to drive up instead of the planned flight, but we have had an easy run up the M40/M42/M6 toll/M6 etc and are in place for our round of meeting tomorrow. Aplogies to followers of my driving logs, but I forgot about keeping one of our run up. I’ll try and remember to log the drive back though.

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Thoughts on Texas and late race #NASCAR cautions.

These restart wrecks late in the race are getting beyond a joke. Now I’m not Jeff Gordon fan, but the guy had the best car, was cruising to a win that would have broke a bit of a streak when Rooty had his spin.Differing pit strategies shuffle the pack, but we barely get the green waved when the 99 and the 14 tangle and we get the big one and a red flag.

OK, it’s racing, but it isn’t a demolition derby, so what do we need to let the races run out without all this stupidity? I would start by penaliing any driver that causes a wreck on a restart by stripping the driver and owner of any points for that event and parking them for the next one to try and get the message across.

I’d also look at the question of pitting under caution in the late stages. It screws up the race for teams that have used their strategy well and got themselves a decent postition. I don’t hold with the argument that it makes the race more exiting – especially the phantom “competition caution” – if NASCAR want a 30 lap sprint them they should just run them and not waste everyone’s time with a 500 miler. So let’s try a new rule. If there is a caution with, say, 30 or less laps to go you can pit for new tires and/or fuel, but you go to the back of the pack for the single file restart.

For me the only good thing that came out of the Texas race at the weekend was that Mark Martin got a decent finish after some bad luck (and wrecks).

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