Its soon to be the years end and the Christmas break is nigh. Seems to me it gets longer and longer for some. Most civil sites and house build’s grind to a halt sometimes for a fortnight nowadays. What a change there has been on these sites as well with the new health and safety legislation. Everyone on site wearing hi vis clothing and helmets etc and I think its all for the good of the men working there. There have been a few big civil engineering jobs near me over the years, the M2 Motorway and the Medway bridge and there were fatalities on both whilst work was going on. The M2 close to us was for many years the main way to get to the Dover docks for lorries that were going to Europe, and as it is 2 lanes either way it was well out of date with the volume of heavy traffic that uses it the day it opened. From the time I got my first car when I was 17, 59 years ago, which in fact was a Ford 10cwt truck with the sit up and beg look with the 2 headlights on the bulbous front wings, driving was a pleasure. Now its not so good especially round my way, making these small to medium journeys one must do to get groceries and Land Rover parts etc. Close to where we live there are currently 2 housing developments, one with 120 houses and another with 150. The council has approved the destruction of large orchards near us and they are going to build another 1200 houses there. So, add them together and let’s say 2 cars per house that is a potential of 2940 odd more cars close by where we live.
Having done a spell working for the Civil Service I am a member of the Civil Service Motoring Association, and I enjoy a few member benefits. They have an excellent magazine they send me, and the letters and articles are worth a read. In the current one reader’s have been asked which is their favourite drive in the UK. Voted best was the A82 has it meanders thru Glen Coe. I have driven it and there are some “ruler straight sections to a helter skelter ride” according to the readers survey results. Trouble is for me stuck in the sunny South East corner of England it’s a hell of a drive to get all the way North to reach the A82. But every now and then you take a drive and the road sort of opens for you, and once again for a little while at least it’s a pleasure driving once more.
It’s been a busy time as usual at GLASS the Green Lane Association, and Chairman Matt Henchcliffe writes in his regular column in the winter 2019 issue about what they have been up to on our behalf. He writes “ this year some of our most iconic lanes are under scrutiny and not for the first time in some cases Happy Valley (not my off road site in Kent) Carn March Arthur, The Wayfarer, to name a few but in all cases we have fortified our already strong relationships with existing contacts at local authorities and National Parks, working together has been key and we have numerous plans in place going forward for maintenance work. We have solutions put in place to deter off piste activity in Shropshire, allocated budgets for signage in the peak District NP, helped to fund projects in several counties and have nine ROW cases currently open. Winter sees the beginning of our tenth case, Conquering Hero in Denbighshire, watch this space”. Well done Matt and the team and keep at it. I can only imagine how all the pressure of trying to stem back the tide of closures etc might wear the committee and some members down, but you are all doing a grand job for us. I said it in print so many times over my career as a contributor to Land Rover and 4X4 magazines, but I will say it again. If you drive on green lanes, by-ways unsurfaced roads call them what you will, if you enjoy it, and you want to keep on doing it then you should join GLASS at www.glass-uk.org and go along to one of their many area meets.
THE RISE OF THE SUV
All the major car manufacturers now seem to be advertising less on television and in the magazines and papers on their different models and more on singling out their SUVs. They certainly seem to be the in thing and a lot of them like my posh car me Ford Edge are 4-wheel drive. Dacia Duster, the new Seat both look nice as does Fords offerings the Kuga and the new Focus SUV. My Ford Edge SUV our posh car is a nice drive but an electronic nightmare I would imagine if it should ever go wrong. It has a few different pings which warn me if I am too close to anything and it even does a little braking if it thinks I am too close to another car in front, as a row of red lights come on in front of me at the bottom of the windscreen. It also does the same thing sometimes if I change lanes on a motorway. Also of course the usual thing that most new models have now of the engine automatically cutting out if you are stationary for some time to save fuel. When I can drive on, I press the clutch and the engine fires up and off we go. Sure, it saves fuel, but I sometimes wonder how much a new starter motor is going to cost as it is being used so much, but when I am in heavy stop start traffic, I can turn it off if I wish to.
ON SITE AND THE D2 TD5
When I took over running me off road site Happy Valley 4x4 down here in Kent, it was in a bit of a state as the grass was 4 feet high. A few clubs used it and some still do, but my open days I do through a Facebook page Happy Valley 4x4 was a slow starter. There were a few days when it was hardly worth while opening, and as I live 40 miles from the site to get there I was running at a loss. Well Hazel is a genealogist, and she has of course done my family tree and her own, and we also had our DNA done. It turns out I am a few parts North American Indian. I always knew I was related to Geronimo the Indian who would not give in and quit causing chaos as the tribes were rounded up. So, I didn’t quit either when things at the Valley were not so good. As I write we now have 428 members, so I am glad I stuck with it. I only hope they don’t all turn up at once on day. The TD5 is leaking like a sieve in all the rain we have been having but apart from that all’s well. I have seen a few custom aluminium boxes in the back of Range Rovers and Discoveries over the years and always fancied one meself. A search on the Emyther took to a firm in Germany, and although they claim that their products were in 5 tread plate aluminium, going by the price I would have thought they were in 22carat gold. So, I set about getting some made, and went to a small metal manufacturing unit near me and we did a deal. Just after I placed me order the guys business stepped up to such a level, he had to relocate and expand and although I had been waiting a long time, he was very sorry, but he had to turn me down. However, he did give me the drawer slider packs for the 2 drawers which was nice. I mentioned this to Andy one of my Billing Marshals Team who is in the metal trade and he done them for me in between jobs when he had time, and I am very pleased with the outcome. So have a merry Christmas all of you and a happy new year, and take it steady on the by-ways.