New dogs required?

Driving along one of our local motorways a few days ago, I was a bit perturbed to see numerous overhead gantry signs with the message ‘ The UK leaves the EU on 31 December, new dogs required’ . I knew things were changing but not that every pet owner had to replace their four legged friends. With the average price for any pedigree puppy being around GBP£2000, it could be an expensive business.

Who wouldn’t like a new dog?

The displays certainly aren’t clear……as my mother in law,  on a separate journey actually read it as New Docks required and was left wondering why Dover, Southampton, Hull etc. were all being consigned to the history books.

It took an eagle eyed family member in the car who could focus on the signs and not the road ahead …..to note that the message is actually all about ‘docs’ as in documents ..not dogs or seaports.

Another sign I spotted a junction or so later helpfully asked the question ‘Travelling to France? Covid Test required’.  Very helpful info you may say, but this road junction in Yorkshire, Northern England and is some 4 hours drive (about 250 miles) from the nearest seaport from where you can take the ferry to France! In reality the majority of cars who use this particular exit are either travelling to the local Ikea or Lidl and really not much further!

As a nation, in the UK we are actually quite used to unusual signage..in the early 1990’s we had the Traffic Cones hotline promoted all along our motorways  complete with a freephone 0800 number. The only problem being nobody had a clue why it was there?

Some people thought it was to report stray or lost traffic cones, others a counselling service for those to report and get advice on an unhealthy romantic attraction to these plastic hat impersonators, some assumed it was to complain about there being too many of them and so on. In fact it was actually an information line you could ring to find out where there were roadworks on the country’s motorway network, presumably to avoid them…or if you had a strange interest in them, so that you could plan a Happy weekend of contra-flow driving complete with other features including those family favourites…’raised man hole covers’ and ‘temporary road service’.

Anyway, such signs are now just history.

But despair not, visit Scotland’s motorways and you will still find signage to delight. In Scotland, people just generally say it as it is and this is the tone of the signage there too. My favourites are the signs displayed on many stretches of motorway with helpful motoring advice…’Watch your speed’. Yes for sure many a driver will be prodded by this reminder and ease off the accelerator pedal a bit; another is , ‘Check your fuel’..likewise a quick glance at the fuel gauge makes sense….but the ‘icing on the cake’ goes to ‘Check your tyres’….really??? At 70 miles per hour in the fast lane!!!

What’s in a name?

My parents generation, probably like all generations, would from time to time have a bit of a moan about things. Actually, lets be careful here as we all find ourselves turning into our parents in various ways whether it is looks, temperament, idiosyncrasies , dress senses or driving habits!

Anyway my father would from time to time comment about how the world was becoming very depersonalised – small shops being swamped by large supermarkets, characterless motorways with no landmarks and so on. He did have a point here…I recall finding myself driving along a motorway on a work business trip that was one of many trips over a short period of time and gazing out of the car window (I hasten to add I was not the driver!) and having a mind-blanking moment about where on earth in the country are we? For those not so familiar with our UK motorways , they often have high grass banks and you see nothing of where you are passing for miles at a time – exit signs are the only clue!

Things have moved on (although obviously not on the motorways) in that the clever marketing people now want us to feel warm and fuzzy and upfront and personal about everything. I have a parcel delivery due later today and the courier company reassured me with a message that John Higgins would be with me between 17.32pm and 18.32pm. I am assuming he will be delivering the parcel and they are not just sending one of their employees round for a welfare visit?

I have recently been having a rant with my credit card provider and all the conversations, at least from their side(!) are very first name and friendly – sincere Steven from Customer Care has called twice, Michael from ‘escalations’ team and level headed Laura whose job it seemed was to call me about my complaints about the lack of service from sincere Steven and escalation Mike and re-assure me that she was on my case.

She told me more or less on our last call that her life has no higher or more important priorities than me and my banking needs at the moment. This concerns me slightly as her household may be expecting some contribution from her in terms of Christmas shopping, tree decoration or mince pie making or whatever her role normally is in such festivities and to me I think these are of greater need for focus in her life rather than an erroneous charge on my account.

And then of course there is Starbucks…it is impossible to order a coffee or hot chocolate with anonymity…I am not a huge customer of them normally and it is usually more when I am in the US for work related travel that I frequent them. When asked my name I always say , my best House of Windsor accent ….’Prince Charles’..there is never really any reaction from the order taker…other than mutters how , how will all this fit on the side of the cup? But when it gets shouted out to a crowded coffee shop, that is when the fun starts!

Enjoying this blog? …you know its just written for you ‘insert name here’

…oh and finally an update on the parcel, John hasn’t made it yet but I have been told of his exact co-ordinates. I have noted these in case things deteriorate and I need to give the info to the local mountain rescue team.

Top Ten First World Problems

If I were creating such a list, top of this one would be the end of Summer Time. Now by this I don’t mean the end lazy of days by the beach, drinks outside, wasps or cows sharing your picnic etc.

In the UK that all ended weeks and weeks ago and sure that is a disappointment, but we just have to embrace the seasons. Indeed us Britons have all been well trained since we are toddlers to be ready for bad weather at any time, the formation of orderly queues for shelter, ruined days out and generally being very polite stoic about all of these things!

No, the problem is the changing of the clocks at the end of British Summer Time and reverting to the real time! That is GMT (Greenwich Mean time) , we generally don’t like to depress ourselves further by calling it Winter time.

Its a bit like one of these early computer games where you had to eradicate gremlins that would keep popping up on your screen , and just when you thought you had them all, another one pops up.

We have this problem with there being clocks everywhere – everything imaginable has a clock: mobile phones and landline phones – actually these seem to be able to cope with this momentous day in our life and update themselves, as do the clocks in at least one of our cars…the other car will resolutely show the wrong time for 6 months of the year.

Then there is the cooker in the kitchen – the changing of the clock display on this always necessitates finding the gravy stained owners manual and still the process always goes wrong and instead of retarding the clock by one hour we seem to be setting an auto-cook setting with the oven timer, for a 1kg – 2kg chicken (no giblets)! So, then onto the microwave, similar problems…manual needed, and just when we thought we had done it we noticed that its actually a defrost process we have just initiated…..!

So thinking then that all bases are then covered, we noticed our energy Smart meter was showing us the time in Paris, France not Yorkshire, England so that needed intervention too. Smart meters are smart in name only – we have had ours a year and it has never so much answered a crossword clue, or even one of the easier questions on University Challenge! Its actually not even so smart at doing stuff its supposed to do like displaying how much energy we are using. Quite important really with all the additional flashing displays and bleeps going on at the moment from various domestic appliances that are being adjusted!

So having completed everything, a quick stroll into the garden…….aaargh, I had forgotten the recent addition of a garden clock. Thankfully no instructions needed…its very analogue and just needs its hands moving!

Happy clock change day, if its happening with you today!

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