Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Back on the road

October 7th, 2012

I’d a bicycle I’d named Emma, so it hadn’t seemed so untoward to christen the car Clarissa. After all, my four-wheeled friend had now become as much a companion as my two-wheeled trusty steed had been. My new vocation necessitates a good deal of travel, which I rather like. Of course, just as having a decent bicycle is a great help riding around the world, so is a well engineered automobile when purring up and down that network of interconnected car parks we sometimes generously refer to as the motorways. The M6 Toll exempted of course.

A firm advocate of better to get there alive and a few minutes adrift, I like to encourage others on the road seemingly possessed by evil spirits to simply get out of bed a bit earlier. I frequently do. Something about the early morning light cast over the spire of Salisbury cathedral.

Of course, it can be a little tedious, especially on the more narrow, slower roads, trapped behind the Daily Mail drivers. You know the sort. Consistent types. Forty miles an hour, irrespective of the speed limit, past schools and so forth. Frequently picking up speed at spots where one might otherwise be able to overtake. They’ll tell you they’ve thirty or forty years driving experience, absolute in their belief that they’re the safest on the road. After all, they’ve seen enough accidents.

Set off earlier enough and you’ll frequently spot the red light jumpers. Deliberately ignoring the traffic signals in the belief that they’re the only ones out and about. Hoping of course you don’t get to bump into them. Or them into you. Up there with those private hire drivers who also seem to think the law doesn’t apply to them, especially on a Sunday morning. I’ve a strong sense of smell, not that it’s an especial requirement to wheedle them out.


Amicable separation

November 29th, 2010

Parting of old friends. We’d been together since I’d crossed into China from Kazakhstan. Good few thousand miles. Rough with the smooth. Treasured memories. But time to go our separate ways. For my companion, the G312 National Road, that’d be to Shanghai. Of course, there’d been signs. There usually was. If you looked carefully enough.

Sign - web

Wuhan. About 300 miles to the south east. Along the G316 National Road. The next major stop on my route to Hong Kong. Shanghai was tempting. Around eight hundred miles east. A crossing of Asia concluded within a few weeks. But the former British colony held great appeal. No waivering.


Rough roads and hazy memories

November 29th, 2010

Familiar names. Shangnan. Xixia. Dengzhou. Last few overnight stops. Yet already hazy. Jumbled fragments of imagery. Confused. Cluttered with recollections of the road. Dust. Diesel fumes. Stretches reduced to rough track by heavy lorries. Struggles with shambolic local traffic.

lorries - web

None of the places I’d stopped were without merit. Not least because each evening I’d negotiated a suitable room rate. And then, next day, presented with bill for rather less. As perplexing as the dimness of memory.

Difficult choice east of Xixia. Leave the relative certainty of the G312 National road for a much more direct route to the city of Xiangfan. A day less. But on a lesser Provincial road. Risk it might deteriorate to little more than a rough track.

Worries proving surprisingly unfounded. Rapid progress. Much of it along a tree lined avenue, as if back in France. Warm sun. Day dreaming. Summers back in Pembrokeshire. Childhood memories. Pleasant recollections. And yet, until fairly recently, I’d lost touch with my best friend from those days. Hoping to be reunited in North America after over a quarter of a century. Perhaps riding together once more. Lots to talk about.

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