If you have been following the saga of the bad winter weather here in the UK through our blog, last night when I returned home from work, I was able to shovel the melting slushy snow and ice off the back path and steps up to the house with little difficulty.
I had hoped that the snow they forecast for southwest England overnight would miss us, but it didn’t, and we had between one and two inches fall by the time I woke up at 6:30am and looked out of the bedroom window.
Where I had cleared the garden path the night before it looked more like an inch or less, because the temperatures were slightly above freezing, and the snow was already a bit slushy. However on the roads it was still deeper, where it lay on the previous compacted snow and ice.
The car was covered with about two inches of snow, which was easy to brush off, and the windows were not frozen, so I was soon able to start my journey, deciding to leave for work at 7:30am to try and beat most of thr traffic.
Our road, which is on a steep hill, was very slippery, and the main road just around the corner which goes up a very steep hill was slick, but fortunately I had enough traction to keep going, albeit slowly, and got to the top of the hill and over the other side.
It was then I hit the first problem, a solid queue of traffic towards the bottom of the hill, waiting to cross the bridge at Wood Mill (see below – click on the picture for a larger image).
Wood Mill Bridge is only a single lane of traffic, with a double bend in the middle of the two parts of the bridge. Normally, three cars will go from one end, stop in the middle section, where it is wide enough for three to four cars to pass each other, and then drive on. If people adhere to this policy of only three cars at a time, then the traffic flows pretty well.
However, since the end of December there have been temporary traffic lights on either side of the bridge, and they keep jamming up, so that only one side shows green. I am not sure if that is what happened this morning, but the traffic was already backed up to half a mile my side of the bridge at 7:30am.
For me to get to the last section of the road that runs past the park and leads to the bridge, I have to cross two mini-roundabouts, and the road coming from the right onto the first roundabout has priority, so if only one car moves forward at a time, invariably another takes it’s place, and my stream doesn’t move.
This time of the morning, in the rush hour, there are very few cars going south across the bridge, most of the traffic heading north across the river. Under normal conditions, the flow is constantly moving, albeit at a slow pace, but this morning it took me 35 minutes to get to the bridge, which is only a mile from home!
The traffic lights were eventually working, letting about ten cars across from each direction at a time, but with a huge wait time in between, so most of the time the bridge was actually empty. Oh the frustration, since the next bridge to the east is out of my way and usually very heavy under normal conditions, and the next to the west is blocked northbound for a few weeks as they work on it. So I don’t really have any choice but to take this route to work.
Once across the bridge the traffic was light for a mile or so, until I came to Burgess Road, which runs west past the University, and this was by the time I got to it pretty heavy. I decided therefore to not continue along there, but to take the back roads through “The Flowers”, a section of back roads that are named after flowers, and which are narrow but cut out a lot of the traffic.
Well these were slippery last week, but this morning it was like driving on a skating rink, with compacted ice under the wheels. I drove very carefully around the bends and down a hill, but going up the otherside of the hill my wheels didn’t want to grip the road and I was sliding all over the place. The car in front had managed to climb the hill ok, but I didn’t get enough grip at the bottom to take a run at it, and practically crawled up it, however fortune was on my side and the car kept going to the top.
Once there I hit the next main road, which only had light traffic, and zoomed onto the next hold up.
The last stage of the journey was also very slow, because the road that our office is located on is a two lane road, but there was a queue of traffic on it going in the opposite direction to me for most of the mile to the office, and I got stuck behind a cyclist who was struggling to keep the bike going at a horribly slow pace, and since he could not ride right close to the kerb, there was not enough room to overtake him, and so a stream of traffic just crawled along yet again.
At work there was a group of people shoveling snow off the driveways so that delivery trucks could get in and out. The road goes all around the offices and warehouse, to the staff car park on the far side of the building, and even the ramp up to the car park was closed as it was too slippery. I had to drive past the ramp, and up the down ramp to park.
I finally got to work five minutes late at 8:35am, the eight and a half miles having taken just over an hour to complete.
Whether I should have taken the back roads through “The Flowers” is debatable, however just before I arrived at work, they announced on the radio that the road which I would otherwise have taken, “The Avenue”, was partially blocked with a tree branch that had come down. So, if I had taken that route, I would maybe have taken another 30 minutes to get to work.
Oh the joys of driving in England in the winter lol 🙂