Friday, 22 November 2013

Two ways in and out of Sheffield and one was closed

It sounds like the beginning of a joke, I know.  The hire company were supposed to deliver a car on Sunday evening except it never arrived.  Having no choice but to give my new manager a headache on my first week in the job I had to drive my own car to Sheffield which is pretty much against the rules.  At least I knew how to use the controls in my car and didn't have to worry about whether an automatic locking system was working or not.  

Yes, I would seriously have tried to work out if that was the case and I would hope that I would have remembered not to walk towards the car with the fob in my pocket wondering why the car was not locked when in fact it was until I started walking towards the car.  I don't overthink things at all, honestly!

Sheffield is over the hills and far away....literally; it's over the Pennines.  This means you have to drive over them trying to get the car to hug the side of the hill/mountain.  All very well when it is Summer but in Winter you tend to drive into a lot of fog.  And the world and his wife think it is safe to drive over them at 60 mph because that is the speed limit whether there be fog or not.  Except me.  

I plugged the iPhone into the car radio before I set off so I could listen to an audio book; shut up!  It's the only way I ensure I don't get sleepy on a long journey and I am sure the other motorists on the road were more than grateful for that.  Quite happy, I stopped at McD's for a spot of breakfast and then drove over the pennines.   I arrived at the outskirts of Sheffield to find a diversion.   Okay, no need to panic, I could ignore the sat nav and follow diversion signs and I did quite easily and was at the office safely by 10.30am.  It had taken me 4 hours instead of the expected 2 and half but that's my fault for setting off at 6.30am instead of some godforsaken time of the morning to miss the 7 mile tailback on the motorway that peak traffic creates anytime after 5.30am these days.

All went well in Sheffield, the hotel was gorgeous and the air conditioning blasted out lots of very warm air when I asked it to instead of the usual poor mans substitute. I stayed awake until stupid o'clock the first night almost giddy at the idea of no cooking, cleaning, washing etc. only to be away with the sandman by 8.30pm the following evening.  I was even sensible enough to set off at a reasonable time to travel home knowing that I had a diversion to follow to find my way back out of Sheffield.

Silly me; I forgot that it gets dark at 4pm these days and I stupidly did not take account of the ridiculous amount of traffic on the Sheffield roads at that time.  Not being able to find the diversion signs I drove the way sat nav directed me back to the road closure and doubled back following the diversion signs.  

Obviously, Sheffield council deemed that diversion signs are for people who live in Sheffield and not for people who live in what can be described as a reasonably small town that I lived in for 35 years and therefore know reasonably well.  The diversion signs were placed approximately every 4 miles apart and were of no help if you were in the right hand lane as they were placed on the left side of the road.  So I shook my fist at the world more than once or twice and may have had a slight panic attack at the idea of driving around Sheffield looking for a police station so they could direct me out of Sheffield before I decided to follow the signs for the MI motorway to the south - after all, surely there had to be a turn off for the M1 north? (Update: as my mother reminded me yesterday Sheffield is higher up the country than my home town so I did actually need to M1 South - doh).

Judging by the fact that the world and his wife were trying to follow that same road I deduced I had finally found the way I was looking for - it had only taken me 45 minutes.  I then sat in traffic creeping along for another 45 minutes but by that time I was quite happy listening to my audio book about the aquisition (from very shady and dangerous characters) and sale (to unsuspecting naive housewives) of fake handbags (have these people never heard of the downfall of legitimate businesses) and the murder and mayhem that ensued safe in the knowledge that I was not going to have to find an unsuspecting policeman to help me find my way back to those rolling hills I had driven over merely 2 days before.

Having found my way out of Sheffield I can only say that if what I drove down was a motorway then fine, but it didn't look like any motorway near my hometown.  Then again, I guess they cannot really plough a 6 lane motorway through the gorgeous pennines without some people throwing a fit or two.  

I didn't care that the speed limits were 60-70 miles per hour - it was pitch black and while I may not have been able to see the perilous drop which was now immediately to my left past that flimsy barrier I knew it was there, damn it.  So me and my car started the mechanical equivalent of the conga across the peninnes.

Suddenly, I noticed that my fuel gauge was getting lower and lower.  Okay, technically I already knew this was happening but the first flutterings of panic were starting.  I did have plenty of fuel to get me across the pennines so I could stop for petrol before I got to the motorway originally but remember I had driven aimlessly around Sheffield and then sat in idling traffic for 90 minutes.  Being a relatively new car I did not have the 8 years of experience I had with my previous car to know it would get me another 30 miles once the petrol guage started blinking at me begging for petrol.   

Breathing a sigh of relief I thought I was approaching the small village of Glossop only to rachet that panic up a bit more when we started climbing again. As much as they dared, my eyes flicked from the road to the dashboard like they had a nervous twitch.  Honestly, when I realised I was approaching Glossop and therefore that beaon of light otherwise known as a petrol station I actually sang out "Hallelujah" in the car.

From there the rest of the drive was a breeze and I could once again concentrate on just the road and the audio book; with a brief interlude at the same McD's I stopped at 2 days before to grab some McBites coupled with a side of a bump on the top of my head from the top of the door sill.

I know some of you are asking why I did not go by train and you would be right in wondering but bulky IT equipment does not bode well on a train nor can my cabbage hands cope with the weight of the equipment.  You can be rest assured, however, that next weeks journey (and the weekly/fortnightly ones thereafter) will be made by train.  I may be cold stood on a station platform but at least if I fall off the edge of a platform I only have 4 feet to fall instead of the hundreds me and my car would have over Snake Pass.

So you see, my first trip to visit my new team was not only interesting but eventful.


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