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Monday, October 1, 2018

The Costa Brava in August is my idea of Hell, The slowest road is where you are most likely you get a speeding ticket!, Define 'Lumber'

The Costa Brava in August is my idea of Hell

Imagine an azure blue sea, the waves shimmering in the morning sun looking like diamonds glittering more sharply than in a fancy Bond Street boutique. Imagine golden yellow beaches, surrounded by tall green pines, the smell of eucalyptus wafting in the warm breeze. Imagine the seafront cafés and restaurants serving perfect cortados, not too weak, not too strong, and fresh shellfish à la plancha or prepared in a paella or Catalan suquet and Iberico ham carved from the bone in front of you.

Well, that was June. Now here's August:

The traffic jams to get in or out of the typical Catalan fishing port of 20,000 inhabitants are bad as the population swells to 150,000 in July/August for the holiday period. The main seafront stretch is now a one way dual carriage way and the escape route at the back is a constant traffic jam during the day. Everyone is looking for somewhere to park; every single nook and cranny along every street is filled with parked cars. Queues form everywhere as drivers wait for a space, people do stupid things, tempers fray in the summer heat and the infrastructure designed for one tenth the volume doesn't cope.

The Costa Brava in Catalonia

Every morning, locals and foreigners drive to one of the beaches and look for somewhere to park. By 10am there are no spaces left anywhere close to the beach so you have to drop off your load (family, parasols if you aren't too stupid, beach toys, food, etc.) go park and walk back to claim your spot on an already crowded beach. By mid morning, beach space is so scarce that the little spot between you and the next family gets taken and you find yourself cheek to jowl with toddlers who drip water on you as they screech past, parents who blow their cigarette smoke or vape fumes over you and plenty of usually good-natured noise in various languages. In front of you are some teenagers playing a version of volleyball in the short stretch between the closest sunbathers and the waves lapping onto the sand. Anyone walking along the beach with their toes in the sea weaves in and around these various obstacles. To your right is a large gym instructress displaying her tattoos and jumping up and down making a variety of moves that 20 elderly ladies in the sea in front of her are attempting to replicate. Screaming out of the large black speaker unit that stands next to her is a constant harassment of vaguely familiar and irritating disco dance tunes that you can still feel even if you close your ears.

Meanwhile a bunch of thieves are trying to break into all of the cars in broad daylight as their owners lie on the beach. They go from car to car and anyone that offers easy entry will be emptied for anything of value. On the first day, I came back to find my car covered in finger prints around the door handles, the boot, the petrol tank and the edges of all the windows. The finger prints stand out as the car is covered in a light dusting of sand as if being prepared for a deep fry in the sun. On day two we went to a different beach and returned to find the car roof partially opened. On day three, my wife was crossing the road when a German or Dutch van driver who spoke no Spanish pulled over to ask her where the police station was. He had just had the entire contents of his van stolen. 

And if you manage to get away without having your cash stolen, make sure you don't stop at one of the motorway services stations where our neighbours had their wallets stolen as they ate a sandwich just a few meters away from the car so they could keep a watch on it. They believe that children must have entered the side of the car that was not visible to them.

You won't be surprised to hear we decided it was time to leave, never to return in July or August.

The town we stay in is Roses (Rosas in Spanish) but the conditions are the same in Lloret de Mar (I once worked with a lady called Lloret - she had been named after this resort), L'Estartit, Empuriabrava, L'Escala, or pretty much anywhere along the coast...

The Slowest Road is where you are most likely to get fined for Speeding! 

The traffic in Oxford is pretty diabolical at busy times or if there is an incident that blocks a road. There are just one or two roads that lead into the city from each direction (North, East, South and West). We live on the West side and the only way in is to use the Botley Road. A recent Government report found average speeds on Botley Road have dropped to 9.3mph, making it the slowest road in the county. 

According to The Oxford Times, "Botley Road has the most speeding offences despite being the slowest road in the city! Thames Valley Police said 6,362 people were spotted travelling over the legal 30mph speed limit from June 1, 2017 until June 28 of this year – an average of 16 a day. 

The camera based on other the side of Botley Road has clocked far fewer people – 1,636 motorists. But it is still the twelfth most used speed camera in Oxfordshire. 

The figures mean that 7,998 people were caught speeding along Botley Road in just 392 days." 

That’s plenty of money generated. I wonder what it is used for? 

Quote of the Month

This month's quote is not a quote but a definition of a word that is a modern enemy:

Lumber: articles of furniture or other household items that are no longer useful and inconveniently take up storage space.

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