The fun of a single track road…

We live out in the sticks and there are plenty of ‘quaint’ pastimes that I love. I love the history of the cottage, the sunset at the end of a summer’s day and the bonfires at the bottom of the garden but there are those little things that you put up with for the sake of the view. For example when it rains too much the electric goes off, we have no broadband and a laughable band ‘speed’ (I hate to use the word speed as it clearly is an oxymoron when referring to our internet access) of 1/2meg meaning we sit there watching our web pages load just as we did 5 years ago. But seeing as the view really is fantastic I can put up with it. The thing though that makes where we live definitely ‘in the country’ and not in suburbia is the only way to get us is via 1 of 2 single track roads. Go to the end of our lane and turn left you’ll find a perilous hill with some great twists and turns but turn right at the end of the lane and you will be treated to all the fun of a very single, single track road.

I remember when we first came to see the cottage Hubbie was driving and I was trying to do my best impression of being calm whilst he drove. I think my gripping the door handle a little too tightly showing the whites of my knuckles may have given the game away but my shouts of ‘For god’s sake man, can you just drive a little slower!!!!!’ definitely let him know I wasn’t a happy passenger. Sometimes with Hubbie I’m not a back seat passenger, more ‘an-annoying-control-freak-of-a-wife-in-the-front’ type of passenger. He hates me being in the car with him and, sometimes, I hate being in car with him too. He crept round every corner as if there was a 10 tonne juggernaut about to plough into him and I slowly relaxed. We saw the house, fell in love with it and sometime after, we moved in.

My first complaint about the road is that people drive too fast down it. Many a time have I driven so carefully (as if I had a glass of water on the dashboard that I didn’t want to spill) only to find someone appear to sprout out of the hedge. After the slamming of brakes and the, sometimes, very near miss a decision is then made as to who will reverse to the passing place. This leads me to my second bugbear; passing places. These are the semi circles that are carved into the hedges where 1 car can fit in and let another pass. In theory they work brilliantly but these ones are often filled up with old wardrobes, bits of carpet and oil drums meaning that they are useless. Some are also at an angle and I worry that my car will tip (I have tipped in a Toyota Hilux one dark night in a field. My then partner shot foxes and rabbits when a farmer called to say he had a problem and I found myself in his father’s Hilux with no lights on going into a field he’d never been in in the dead of night. Looking back we were asking for trouble but it seemed perfectly sensible at the time and had been done many times before. The farmer came along the next day and pulled it out with a tractor and it was fine but I still have a fear of my car tipping. Anyway, I’m digressing…) Some passing places are also on the edge of the road and over time the road has crumbled leaving huge holes in which my lovely car’s wheels get stuck and wheel spin merrily away. Luckily I haven’t got stuck yet but I’m touching wood whilst I type…

So the speed of drivers coming towards me and the useless passing places are a problem but by far the biggest problem I’ve come across is vehicles driving down the track that are too big and shouldn’t be there. There is a sign that they have to drive past that says ‘Single track road with passing places’ (with another sign letting trucks know that this road is unsuitable for certain weights of lorries) and I do think that they must think that the person who said that it should be put there must have been joking and their flatbed lorry with crane will of course be fine. The first time I met a lorry was on a very rainy August morning when the car was steaming up with the breathing of 3 excited boys. I came round the corner and there was a huge lorry. A car was following me and stopped just behind me closely followed by a third car. We all waited expecting the lorry to reverse but he didn’t. The lady behind me who was obviously braver than me (or was tired of her children breathing too much in her steamed up car) marched down past my car and went to talk to the lorry driver. Wild gesticulations were seen by all (much to the amusement of my boys) but she walked back stopping to say ‘He won’t go back, he says he can’t see…’ I said ‘really? Oh my life, why did he come down here then?’ She said she’d asked him that and also why had he ignored the sign. He said ‘What sign??’ I think that said it all really. By now 4 cars were behind me and the 5th car started to reverse. They snaked backed up the road and one by one found passing places to get into but because I was the first car going forward but the last going backwards I had to reverse past every single car which is no mean feat in a Chrysler Grand voyager that’s steamed up and filled with 3 over excited boys who could sense their mother wanted the blood of anyone. My reversing’s fine (I’m actually an expert now) but I did hesitate whilst reversing by a Porsche. He looked smug in his place and I have to confess to a few gesticulations of my own at that point…

My last bugbear is reversing. Those who can’t reverse the car they’re actually in shouldn’t be going down any single track roads. I have seen some brilliant comedy reversing in the 4 months I’ve been here. Men like to do it fast (don’t they always?) and the whining of their engine seems to give them great pleasure as they throw their car into the hedge with a look of ‘there, bet that impressed you!’ Ladies are a mixture; some like me, I am shinning my ‘expert reverser’ badge as I type and am puffing out my chest at my wonderfulness, are marvellous. We get the speed, timing and steering perfect and are able to negotiate going backwards as easily as forwards but there are some ladies, generally those who think their little Clio is the size of a super tanker, who just can’t do it. I met an older lady in a Nissan Micra the other day who reversed by zig zag taking a piece of the hedge each side as she ploughed into it. I sat incredulous watching her and I must admit to being more than a little caustic about her skills of the going backwards kind. Ollie, my eldest joined in and when you’re listening to the sarcastic mumblings of a 7 year old who doesn’t even drive yet, you know you’ve gone a little far. She managed to get into a passing place and I slithered past her and looking into the car I saw a gorgeous little old lady with beautifully kept white hair, lovely pink rosy cheeks and the most gorgeous smile I have seen in a long time. Ollie could still be heard to be saying ‘Why is she allowed on the road if she can’t drive properly..?’ to which I felt awful as she was clearly a perfect idea of the perfect Granny. I shushed him and drove on feeling very guilty.

Living out in the sticks has so far been a brilliant adventure. We’ve watched bats in the evening, made jam from fruit we’ve picked in the garden. We’ve seen amazing sunrises over the misty fields and gorgeous fiery sunsets at the end of a fun filled day. Badgers have crunched in the garden and the personality of the house as it creaks into the evening after a long day makes us feel the warmth of the fire just that little bit more. We love it here and can put up with the dodgy broad band connection and the exciting electrics but I’m not sure I’ll ever really get used to the fun of the single track road. Visitors arrive not calm and refreshed but looking a little ashen as they recount the last part of their journey; the wardrobe filled passing places, the herds of grouse running up the road and not getting into the hedges so they’ve had to drive 2 miles an hour for 3 miles and the fun of the reversing games that only single track roads can give you. It’s a ridiculous road for the time we live in but it is what it is and it can’t possibly change. What was made for carts to occasionally go from one small village to another is now overrun by too large cars and Lorries but it’s the only exit we can use from our house. So if you ever come to the cottage and I mention about the road when giving you directions I really haven’t overestimated the ‘fun’ that we have on a daily basis. Just make sure you drive really slowly and practise your reversing before you set off…



About littlewhitecottage

Emma is a qualified teacher with 14 years of teaching in many different settings. From teaching adults and children at a music school to choosing to work in a demanding primary school that was failing (which meant moving from an outstanding school – her colleagues were aghast!) to running her own sewing business for the last 5 ½ years teaching all ages how to sew: Emma loves to teach.
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2 Responses to The fun of a single track road…

  1. another good one LWC! I love living in the country and too moan about knee deep mud, and having to treck up and down my lane with a sledge to bring provisions and my daughter home in the depths of winter. But as you say all the other benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. My daughter and I have bets as to how many vehicles/sheep we might meet on our regular single track lanes that we have to use. I’ve relented and had to light the open fire this last week and just sitting cwtched up all cosy in front of it makes me so happy to live where we do.

  2. Angela Harrison says:

    A very good read as usual. I couldn’t live in a town again. I love the country, the sounds the smells, the fabulous feeling of snuggling down in a cosy bed, cuddled up to the one you love listening to the owl in the tree outside.

    Yep .. broadband is none existant and it is very annoying when you run out of milk, and today’s smell was particualy awful, but I love it.

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