Tag Archives: Jaguar Drivers

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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letters to the editor number 6 – bad language in public


Filling up the Jaguar with unleaded this morning the Wonder of Wokingham pointed out a bumper sticker on the car in front. I’ll not repeat it here, but it contained a four letter word that we both felt should not have been there.

How is it that the Police can prosecute a child for chalking a hopscotch pattern on the pavement and yet others are freely allowed to print, sell and display offensive bumper stickers?

Yours faithfully

Disgusted of Dorcan

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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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letters to the editor #37 – car parks and saving the planet


At what point did the Government rule that one way systems in car parks did not apply? Why are car park owners allowed to waste the planet’s precious resources on painting arrows and erecting signs that no-one follows?

Or could it be that 90% of people operating vehicles (they could not be called drivers) are either blind, stupid or just ignorant? If so, surely getting them off the roads would make a significant reduction in emissions?

I think that we should be told.

Worried of Wiltshire

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Driving Logs #2

Not much of a trip this time, just a run of less than 70 miles over to Milton Keynes and back, but I felt it was worth recording as it represents a trip I have done regularly for 25 years (at least to the MK area if not this specific address). It is also, for part of the run, one leg of a longer journey to and from the North.

As an aside, I got my route planner software to propose a route. It suggested the fastest way was to go down the M4 to the M25, round to the M1 and up there to MK. That trip was estimated at 111.1 miles and taking 99 minutes, but the software would have not known about the several sets of 50 mph restrictions on that route, let alone the likely congestion. The route I used is virtually a straight line on the map, and the distance and timing make an interesting comparison.

My route across country involves a mixture of rural and urban roads, some 2 lane single carriageway with speed limits between 30 and 60 mph and others 4 lane dual carriageway. The Oxford Western by-pass still has a 40 mph restriction around the bridge works at Peartree, but that was my only issue with road works. I chose to drive straight through Bicester both ways rather than use the ring road. Rush hour traffic was worse on the way out, especially towards the Oxford end of the A420 and around Buckingham.

Note that the stop at the Kingston Centre retail park added 1.2 miles to the journey – big places these.

Way Point Time Elapsed Distance Speed MPH
Home (depart) 719 0.0
A420 (join) 724 5 2.6 31.20
A34 (join) 800 41 27.6 40.39
M40 (cross) 810 51 36.6 43.06
Finmere 825 66 46.3 42.09
A421/422 Buckingham 836 77 51.0 39.74
Watling Steet (cross) 852 93 61.1 39.42
Kingston Centre (stop) 901 102 64.6 38.00
Kingston Centre (depart) 912 113 64.6
Magna Park (arrive) 917 118 66.9 34.02
Net driving time 107 66.9 37.51
Way Point Time Elapsed Distance Speed MPH
Magna Park (depart) 1600 0.0
Watling Steet (cross) 1609 9 4.6 30.67
A421/422 Buckingham 1621 21 14.6 41.71
Finmere 1628 28 19.2 41.14
M40 (cross) 1646 46 29.0 37.83
A420 (join) 1656 56 38.4 41.14
A419 (cross) 1729 89 63.1 42.54
Home (arrive) 1734 94 65.7 41.94

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radio too?

A funny thing happened today. I had a loan car from the garage and, on starting the engine, the radio came on. Now I don’t have the car radio on much these days. Maybe just a little Classic FM perhaps, but most of the time I’d rather listen to my own CDs or a talking book as radio has just become abysmal. However, the programme wasn’t too bad and, with it being a strange car and in traffic, I was too preoccupied with avoiding all the would be assassins with whom I was sharing the road and who were trying to kill me to hunt around for the off button.

Then came the funny thing. It was Radio 2 and the Chris Evans show, except that it wasn’t the poisonous carrot, but a stand in who appeared to be actually capable of stringing a sentence together and at reasonable volume. I was so impressed I left it on for the rest of the drive to the office.

Now I was never a Wogan fan, but at least I could tune him out and that just isn’t possible with the shrieking Evans. If ever there was someone who should never have been let loose with a microphone it is him. Rumours that he might replace AC one the One Show, even if just on Friday’s, is enough to ensure I shall turn the TV off for the duration.

Come on BBC. You can make quality programmes like the recent Indian Hill Railways series and you appear to have finally arranged to get rid of that talentless abomination Ross, so do the decent thing and get shot of Evans as well. On the other hand, I do at least know where the off switch is, so I shall just continue to use that to spare myself.

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driving logs #1

This is the first of my driving logs. I used to keep regular logs of my trips my road, rail and air, but got to the point in my business life that I was just doing so many journeys I couldn’t keep up. However, I’ve had to keep one form of log for my back to the floor driving and have just re-read a book from my personal collection that covers a number of road trip logs, both of which have inspired me to start again.

The basic principles of the logs are that the time is taken from the dashboard clock as I put the car in gear to start, as I join, or cross, each new road and as I apply the parking brake at each stop. I carry a voice activated recorder slung round my neck for recording random thoughts, so the waypoints are recorded using that and I do not include the odometer reading as it is too much of a distraction to note that each time. Mileage is taken from Autoroute 2002 instead. Unless otherwise noted, journeys are in my 2003 Jaguar S Type 3.0 SE (V6 petrol)

This first one is on a Friday morning in February 2010 and I’m up early for a trip from Swindon out to Bishops Stortford on the Essex/Herts border. It should take just over 2 hours, but allowing 3 for road works and traffic. Last time I did it on a Friday it took 5 hours to get home. This time we are starting the meeting earlier, so I’m hoping for an earlier finish and the chance to get on the M25 and M4 before they get too busy.

My log for this trip shows that, even with the 8 minutes stop at Birchanger services (why name them after an obscure, if local, village when they are just as close to Bishops Stortford and barely off the end of the runway at Stanstead?) the outbound run was quicker than the non stop return. The latter featured a number of undesirable stops on the M25 and M4 and both journeys were slowed by 5 sets of 50mph restrictions, two of which were lengthy.

Point Time Elapsed Distance Speed MPH
Home 600 0
M4 607 7 4 34.29
M25 704 64 63.2 59.25
M1 724 84 82.6 59.00
M11 748 108 106.5 59.17
Exit M11 800 120 120.4 60.20
Birchanger Services Stop 802 122 0.00
Birchanger Services Start 810 130 0.00
Bishops Stortford 817 137 122.4 53.61
Point Time Elapsed Distance Speed MPH
Bishops Stortford 1451 0
M11 1458 7 2.7 23.14
M25 1511 20 16.9 50.70
M1 1532 41 40.2 58.83
M4 1608 77 60.6 47.22
Exit M4 1713 142 119.6 50.54
Home 1717 146 122.2 50.22

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