On the road again

Still in France tonight, this time talking driving, roads, road works and pedestrians.

Now us Brits think we’re the world’s best drivers. We may not have invented the internal combustion engine but we did invent the art of driving. Just think about all the accessories in the early days – driving gloves, goggles, hats, complete outfits for the ladies, travel rugs, little metal badges for the front grill. Then there was the original Royal Automobile Club. Not the roadside assistance and insurance people but the private members club which still has premises in Pall Mall and Surrey.


From the National Library of Scotland under Creative Commons Licence via Flickr

But do you know what I think the French may be slightly better at the whole thing than us Brits – even the road works.

I’ve driven all the way to Perpignan before so I know how good the toll roads are but it was HimIndoors’ first time driving on the continent. His first observation was how empty the toll roads are. Next came the speed limit of 130km/h (85mph) which most people seemed to travel at with very few dawdlers and the only people speeding seemed to have UK plates.

On the day we drove to Disney we were on non-toll motorways skirting around Paris and for the two hours we were travelling we didn’t see any road works. We kept an eye open for any on the other side for the way home but again there was none.I did notice however that they have road works signs permanently embedded in the central reservation and the opposite barriers wich face inwards but swivel round to face the traffic when they’re needed. Footsore and exhausted on the return journey we hit road works about 15 minutes in. They were major and closed two lanes. There were three sets of heavy plant for lifting the road, one at either end working towards the middle and a third somewhere around the middle. Turns out they do their road works through the night and throw resources at it to get it finished before rush hour the next morning.

The other thing that took a bit of getting used to was as a pedestrian. In town the French have pedestrian crossings immediately after roundabouts. Dangerous enough but to add to the excitement pedestrians have right of way. Even if you’re hovering at the kerbside the cars stop to let you cross – pretty much a lifesaver when you’re Scottish and looking the wrong way for oncoming traffic 😉 I do wonder how French people cope crossing the road in the UK. Even if pedestrians did have right of way I doubt many drivers would stop.

From all that I have learned:

  • tolls roads do work – even the M6T was quiet and well-maintained
  • not only am I a bin watcher, I’m a road watcher too

Today’s track

I found the Strickland Banks CD lurking in a box in the spare room a couple of days ago and I’ve been playing it ever since. Brilliant album.

Today’s recipe

Sausage cottage pie


Serves 4

Found a mix of veggie, butcher and supermarket sausages needing used up so this is what I did with them.


10-12 sausages

a handful of mushrooms, sliced

a pint of gravy (I cheated with granules)

enough potatoes for 4, peeled and chopped into chunks

a large slice of butter

Method: Heat the oven to 180C/Gas 6.

Boil the potatoes in salted water then mash with the butter.

Grill the sausages while the potatoes are boiling then cut them into 3 bits and put in a casserole dish. Add the sliced mushrooms, pour in the gravy and mix well. Add the potatoes and fluff the top with a fork. Out in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

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