I took a snap decision in the middle of last week, to take a couple of days off and visit some friends Down South, in a little suburb just inside the M25.* I’m lucky, really: I might whinge about my job constantly, but there are some good things to it, and one of them is that there aren’t any anal restrictions on giving notice when you want a holiday. My boss is completely fine with either me or Big Dave walking into his office on, say, a Tuesday, to say: “can I have a couple of days off at the end of the week?” and as long as the other one of us isn’t already planning to be away, he’ll just nod and grunt in assent.
So, anyway, the following day I left work, and set off down to Surrey, thinking it would be a nice easy drive. And, indeed, it was, because by the time I got onto the motorway system the rush hour was already over. I didn’t even have any problems zooming around the M25 – even that was quiet, after all the Dover traffic had turned off at Dartford. The place was easy to find: just turn off the motorway, up the main road towards Croydon, past the big Ann Summers factory** and you’re nearly there. No need to look at the map, or anything.
So, I was rather floored when I turned off the motorway to find a big ROAD CLOSED sign.
I don’t think I have come across a blocked road before – so what are the chances of it happening when you’re in a strange area you’ve never been to, have no idea what the alternative routes are, how to get to them, what to do now? When I found the map book, it got worse – there weren’t any sensible alternative routes, that didn’t involve long detours into Croydon and back out. Statistically, the chances of finding your route blocked are rather slim – so why does it have to happen at the worst place you could come across one?
* A place called Whyteleaf, which was indeed rather leafy. I’ve never really visited the North Downs much, and didn’t realise they extended almost all the way north to Croydon, so I was pleasantly surprised by how pretty, and hilly, the area was.
** I’m not being a perv – it really is a big local landmark