The Summer holidays are here and that is a good thing. Right?
Well, yes it is. Sunny days, (hopefully), time off to spend with the family and an opportunity to get away for a few days. This year, it is said, more people than ever are taking a "staycation". This is good for the economy, say the pundits and no doubt that is absolutely true. I had a few days away in Norfolk just last week. I found it very reminiscent of my childhood holidays as I enjoyed the beaches, ice cream, pub lunches and, very important, proper English ale - the latter not being part of my childhood experience!
There is a downside. It is that the roads are overrun with holidaymakers, especially over the weekend, starting at lunch time on Friday. For many of these driver, this is an annual odessy and, I suspect, they do not often venture onto motorways. A large number are driving in unfamiliar territory and are well outside of their comfort zone. Cars that are usually used for trips so short that they barely warm up to full operating temperature are suddenly subjected to expeditions of one or two hundred miles at motorway speeds.
Put all of these together and you have the recipe for travelling misery as cars break down, average standards of driving plummet. Sudden lane changes, dithering, lane hogging and all manner of driving mayhem which, when added to very large volumes of traffic, make delays inevitable.
I have experienced traffic delays far in excess of what would be expected from a weekday rush hour - on a Saturday morning! Last Saturday morning, the queue for the Northbound Dartford crossing stretched back to the A20. For those of you less than intimately familiar with the area, that is about 6 miles. This story was repeated around the M25, on the M1, A1(M) and A14. In short, trying to get anywhere at the weekend, right now, can be very unpleasant.
Fortunately, those of us who plod these routes regularly are familiar with alternatives, many of which are not known by most sat-navs. When the "competition" is largely composed of holiday makers, we have a good chance of avoiding the worst of the delays and getting through more or less on time.
That being said, do not be surprised if we recommend a slightly earlier time to set off for the airport at the weekend. We are just playing safe while traffic flow might be more of a traffic stop.
Any way, if you have not had yours yet - I hope you have a very pleasant, enjoyable and, above all, safe, holiday.