Traffic jams, a quintessential part of a staycation or the bane of modern life?
That’s quite a question to mull over, but one I had plenty of time to consider as I was stopped for over two hours coming back from Devon last week.
It was one of those ‘kick yourself’ moments. The signs had told me the motorway I was on was shut in one section, but as I drew closer a different sign implied that one lane was in fact open. It was a split-second decision, to crawl through one lane or to negotiate a diversion navigated by my mother.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my mum, but her navigation isn’t something that we totally agree on.
You know what I am talking about. Anyone who has been directed by someone who has to turn the map book upside down at each roundabout has a well of patience deserving of sainthood.
So I decided in my wisdom that I’d stay on the motorway, and in a happy relationship with my mother.
What a mistake. Because no sooner had we sailed past the exit, the traffic stopped with finality on both sides.
We were stuck in a 19-mile car park, with three lanes empty on the other side of the road.
The first entertainment was provided by the men in front of our car surreptitiously peeing in a bucket, before emptying it out of the door.
They were obviously bursting. Then other furtive trips started across the empty three lanes started, for those without a bucket. This was followed by general out-of-car grumbling and then, after two hours, a football match on the empty stretch of motorway
There is something very risky about crossing an empty motorway – knowing when to come back. There were several people left on the wrong side when the opposing traffic eventually came through.
Then there was one. Young by the look of it, and a frantic parent dodging 70-plus miles an hour heavy traffic thundering to get to their child.
Car neighbours had chatted happily, brought together by strife and then, in our totally British way engines started and we ignored one another 10 minutes later when those without buckets or bravery all stopped at the services. But, we all had a quintessentially British story to tell about our staycation.