Potholes

On another day of unrelenting fine drizzle Jackie and I deposited the next carload of garden refuse into the local dump now termed the Efford Recycling Centre.

Potholes: Roads in England and Wales at ‘breaking point’

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Large pothole in foreground

By Elizabeth Joyce and PA Media

BBC News

Roads in England and Wales are at “breaking point” due to potholes, with repairs at an eight-year high, according to a new report.

The Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) said councils were expected to fix two million potholes in the current financial year.

That is up 43% on the previous year and the highest annual total since 2015-16.

Ministers highlighted their pledge to provide £8.3bn of extra funding over 11 years for road improvements in England.

The AIA’s annual report found that 47% of local road miles were rated as being in a good condition, with 36% adequate and 17% poor.

The survey also found that average highway maintenance budgets increased by 2.3% in the 2023-24 financial year compared with the previous 12 months.

But the impact of rising costs due to inflation meant local authorities “effectively experienced a real-terms cut”.

Car driving past a sign saying Welcome to Pot Hole City
Image caption, A sign on the Daventry to Long Buckby road claims the town should be twinned with the Grand Canyon

Meanwhile, the amount needed to fix the backlog of local road repairs has reached a record £16.3bn, up 16% from £14bn a year ago.

AIA chairman Rick Green said: “Local authorities have a bit more money to spend this year but the impact of rising costs due to inflation means they have actually been able to do less with it.

“Couple this with the effects of the extreme weather we are increasingly facing, and the result is that the rate at which local roads are suffering is accelerating towards breaking point.”

Depending on their size, potholes can cause significant damage to vehicles and pose a danger motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

Although small potholes rarely cause major accidents, if a vehicle hits a lot of them over time, it can lead to damage to the tyres, suspension and steering system.

In Daventry, Northamptonshire, signs have appeared from an apparently fed-up driver welcoming people to “Pot Hole City” and “Pot Holy Island”.

While on the Isle of Man, a woman has planted daffodils in potholes, hoping the “guerrilla gardening” will hammer home the problem.

In October 2023, the government announced it would provide the £8.3bn of extra funding for local road improvements.

This was part of the Network North strategy to use money saved by scrapping the planned extension of HS2 north of Birmingham.

Mr Green said: “There’s still a mountain to climb when it comes to fixing our local roads.

“While it’s great that English local authorities should be getting more money from the government through its Network North funding, it’s clearly not going to be enough to halt the decline.”

AA president Edmund King added: “Our breakdown data shows that 2023 was the worst year for potholes for five years.

“Arguably the road network is a local council’s biggest asset, but not enough planned investment and repairs are being made to make streets safer and smoother for drivers and those on two wheels.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said the £8.3bn spending pledge was evidence the government was “taking decisive action to resurface roads and fix potholes”.

They added: “In addition, we have made £150m available for local authorities right now meaning funding for most authorities has increased by almost a third compared to last year, with a further £150m to follow in the coming financial year.”

The above is a current item from BBC News.

My regular readers will be aware of the number of hazardous holes we now negotiate daily.

Here is a small selection each no more than a short distance from our home – only those where it was possible for Jackie safely to stop and let me out. Where the edges of the tarmac are nibbled away it becomes hazardous for drivers to pass each other in opposing directions when one will need to crash a wheel over a crater of varying depths – our road surface waters have subsided somewhat at the moment but sometimes they have covered the holes making them invisible. Our local does its best to patch roads that really need resurfacing. Gravelled repairs soon wash out onto the tarmac.

A friend of ours recently drove the fifth car that damaged a wheel at the same spot in less than an hour.

While I was focussed firmly on potholes, Jackie photographed fleeting deer disappearing into the woodland flanking Holmsley Passage, and raindrops dripping from thorns.

Becky and our Grandfamily returned from their trip to Scotland yesterday evening and Ian joined us later so we were a full household able to enjoy Jackie’s wholesome chicken and leak pie; roast potatoes; crunchy carrots; firm cauliflower and broccoli, and meaty gravy. The Culinary Queen drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc, Ian drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of La P’tite Pierre.

From The Passenger Seat

This morning Jackie and I drove to The Oakhaven Hospice Trust furniture warehouse on the Ampress industrial estate in order to offer for collection a Chinese oak cabinet which is now surplus to our requirements.

I took the opportunity to photograph the parched condition of the surrounding verges.

The now golden moorland around Brockenhurst was tinged with purple heather, yellowing bracken, and early autumnal trees.

The usual ponies had deserted the arid Longslade Bottom

for such sheltered spots as they could find among the lanes

and the dappled woodland.

Plants were drying along the verges of Hordle Lane and

Christchurch Road at the point at which it runs alongside our house, the front garage trellis of which has been saved from suffering a similar fate by Flo and Dillon’s valiant irrigation.

With the exception of the first and last all these photographs were produced from the front passenger seat.

This evening we dined on pizza and fresh salad with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden, Flo and Dillon drank Ribena, and I drank Château La Mauberte Bordeaux 2020.

Christmas Covid-Cancelled, Collecting Easter Eggs

Today we took an early lunch and drove to Tesco for our big shop. As usual I sat in the car, Jackie did the business, and I intended to read my book. After one page my sister, Jacqueline, phoned me and that was the end of the reading.

In fact Tesco wasn’t too difficult, so the Caterer in Chief wouldn’t let me unload the shopping into the car for Covid safety’s sake.

We took a diversion round Holmsley Passage and its misty, frosty, landscape on our way home.

As I wandered, fingers and toes tingling, I discerned just one group of grazing ponies.

Others, on Holmsley Road

and Wootton Common were nearer at hand. One, as soon as I paid it any attention, huddled against its companion seeking security.

A weak sun, putting in an appearance over Hordle Lane, silhouetted a number of oaks.

Undeterred by the fact that we are still consuming provisions bought in for Covid-cancelled Christmas, Jackie had made her first Easter egg purchases.

This evening we dined on more of Jackie’s perfect spicy pork paprika; boiled potatoes; firm carrots and cauliflower; and tender runner beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbec.

A Nippy Little Pig

When I ran regularly across London to work I would adapt my route according to traffic conditions. This is what Jackie did early this morning as we took a drive in what we knew would be the very small window of reasonable light when she had to follow

a huge vehicle negotiating its way along Hordle Lane which was difficult enough without the Mums’, Dads’ and Grandparents’ school run. At the junction with Everton Road the large motor turned left so we continued straight on once the school crossing lollipop man granted his permission.

The stream meant to run under Holmsley Passage flowed fast over the ford. Having dropped me on the far side Jackie drove back through the water to present me with a photogenic splash.

I also pictured woodland with a fallen tree, and a grey pony more interested in us than in its relative trotting behind it.

On the moorland stretch of the road a burnished bay blended with browned bracken;

and billowing clouds soared above hazy landscapes.

There is always a large reflective pond on the left up Clay Hill.

Today a winterbourne stream provided another mirror on the right hand side.

In order for mobile phone masts to be permitted in the forest they are required to adopt an arboreal appearance. There is one at the bottom of this hill.

Pigs at pannage snuffled-snorted, as they burrowed their eager way into heaps of autumn leaves and muddy ditches, occasionally trotting backwards and forwards across Holmsley Road. The last three pictures in this gallery represent the slobbering mobbing to which I was subjected when I emerged from the car in order to photograph the mobile pork in search of a different kind of mast. It was difficult enough to dodge the trotters and keep focussed without being nipped in the back of the leg while attempting to capture the little Gloucester Old Spot. Fortunately neither my trouser nor my skin was penetrated.

The rain set in for the rest of the day after we returned home.

For this evening’s dinner Jackie produced a minced beef pie with a topping of potato slices; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; firm Brussels sprouts, and meaty gravy with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

Passing Pedestrian Pairs

On another hot, sunny, day

I took a stroll around the garden, passing the Dead End Path;

the Heligan Path;

the Rose Garden;

the Palm Bed:

and the Cryptomeria Bed – where’s Jackie in this shot?.

Jackie weeded,

planted,

and generally tidied,

including rearranging pots to her liking. She photographed some of these herself.

and a comma taking a pause on an owl,

while I photographed some of the frilly flamenco flounces flung among the tulips

Soon afterwards I walked along Hordle Lane to the paddock and back.

Various wild flowers line the verges.

Ten days ago when these wilting daffodils were young and fresh the bluebells now fronting them still lay inchoate beneath the soil.

A sunlit dock leaf took me back seventy years to “when I was a lad” and our mother told us that these, when rubbed onto the affected skin, would nullify nettle stings.

In fact they do not neutralise the venom, but with vigorous rubbing the moist sap does ease the pain.

Gaps in the hedgerows offer flanking views such as this wind-sculpted tree,

and neatly framed field.

The ditches are mostly bone dry, but certain stretches contain scummy smatterings of residual fluid.

Two strapping steeds grazed in the paddock

one corner of which was now carpeted with pine-cone piles.

On my return trip a pedalling cyclist sang peacefully to himself.

Later, hearing a pedestrian pair approaching from behind, exchanging pleasantries, I crossed the road to let them pass. They, in turn, were overtaken by a car,

by another bicyclist,

and by another approaching ambulant couple. The requisite distance was maintained.

This evening we dined on succulent roast pork; roasted new potatoes in their skins; crisp sage and onion stuffing; crunchy carrots and firm Brussels sprouts; and tasty red cabbage, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2018.

Sculpted By Prevailing Winds

Aaron is continuing to work as long as he can. This very sensible proprietor of A.P. Maintenance has taken advice and uses his plentiful common sense. We leave the gate open for him so he doesn’t have to touch it and he knocks on the window to announce his arrival. He keeps well away from us, doesn’t come into the house, and brings his own refreshments.

Jackie photographed him reading the list of tasks that she has taped to the inside of the kitchen window.

Blackthorn lines the hedgerows of

Hordle Lane, along which I walked after lunch as far as the paddock and back.

Because the overnight temperatures at the moment are close to freezing, the horses still wear their protective rugs.

Daffodils still brighten the verges, but

the drying ditches are lined with carelessly lobbed bottles, cans, and food packaging.

Arable fields flank the winding lane;

some are divided by hedges and trees sculpted by prevailing winds.

Pine cones cling to branches before eventually dropping to the ground.

It is now two or three years ago that a young teenage girl died in a car accident on this site. Her mourners keep her memory alive.

There wasn’t much reduction in traffic along the lane today;

a cheery cyclist kept his distance as we exchanged greetings;

I was slightly nervous about whether this group of four pedestrians and a dog maintained the requisite distance from me as we passed. I imagine they lived together.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy hot chilli con carne with a mix of brown and white boiled rice. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Mezquirez.

I Wish I’d Brought A Carrot.

Last night we watched the first episode of series 3 of The Crown. Apart from the political aspects of the Wilson premiership I well  remember the death of Winston Churchill in 1965.

At the time I was working close to Westminster Bridge and photographed the queue of thousands waiting to pay their respects to his lying in state. These pictures feature in this post: https://derrickjknight.com/2012/05/22/the-scent-of-a-squirrel/

This morning I printed a set of photographs for Aaron of the gate he finished building on 2nd February.

Storm Dennis wept all over our area today, but he dropped his wind this afternoon. We therefore decided to go for a drive.

Racing rivulets like this one in Angel Lane ran down the gutters and verges,

rushing round into roads like Christchurch Road which is the main thoroughfare between Lymington and New Milton.

Sometimes vehicles took a wide berth with awkward consequences when they met oncoming traffic. This could result in a bucketload of water hitting windscreens in seconds. We know. It happened to us.

In order to produce these images I needed to hoist up my trouser legs and paddle through the muddy water to the sodden verge. My shoes were a little damp when I returned to the car.

 

Our next stop was on Barrows Lane where Jackie settled the Modus among the heavily pitted reflective gravel pools while I crossed

Sway Road to photograph a flooded field alongside

the equally waterlogged Lower Mead End Road.

 

Further flowing fields flooded Flexford Lane.

The junction with South Sway Lane looked so impassable that Jackie refused to turn left to investigate the circumstances of our gimlet eyed equine friend whose home would now surely be under water. She preferred to turn round and drive uphill to approach the field from the more elevated end of the lane.

As we passed Sway Tower, we noticed that streaks of blue sky stretched above.

Back down South Sway Lane we found our equine quarry, his eye now so baleful that I felt really bad that I had not brought a carrot. Anything.

Far less field, and what there was was muddy. Shaggy sodden coat and looking in need of comfort.

Pitmore Lane was also waterlogged. You can imagine what happened to me when I perched on the verge trying to merge into the fences to take these pictures.

Around the corner on Sway Road someone had thought to spread some cones along a soggy bend.

Further back we had passed a field containing a fallen tree.

Hordle Lane is perhaps 100 yards on the opposite side of Christchurch Road to our house. In a number of locations the ditches are now flowing across the road.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lemon chicken and scrumptious vegetable savoury rice with which she drank Peroni and I drank more of the Cahors.

 

 

Smiling For The Cameras

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED.

Waterboy Pool 1

We have several sparrows’ nests in the garden. They, along with various other small birds, take their ablutions in the Waterboy’s pool, as they did this morning.

Sparrows - one on waterboy's head, another on pool edge

Sparrows - one on waterboy's head, one flying

Sometimes they await their turn for a dip on the little lad’s head, flying off after they are done.

Sparrow on hook 1
Sparrow on hook 2

Other perches also come in useful.

I carried out an administrative task in relation to our friend Wolf’s executorship, after which Jackie drove me to the Hordle Post Office.

Crane transporter 1

We were narrowly beaten to Hordle Lane by a crane transporter. This held us up somewhat,

Crane transporter 2

since it took up most of the tarmac, and anyone coming from the other side of the road had to risk driving into the ditch.

Crane transporter 3

There were quite a few of these because it was school run time.

Mount Pleasant Lane

After I had eventually posted some missives, we travelled on to Brockenhurst via Mount Pleasant Lane which rather lived up to its name.

Heron

At Highland Water a heron strode purposefully along the shallow stream,

Ponies

on the other side of which a group of small ponies mowed the lawns.

Pony and family 1

One of their number had remained on our side and attached itself to a small family.

Pony and bare feet

The father collected up the picnic and took it to a safer place,

Mother and two boys

while the boys watched with some consternation the pony snuffling the bicycle.

Pony and shoe

With teeth

Pony scratching and family

and hoof, the animal sought to relieve its itching,

Pony and family 2

reporting progress to the mother and her younger son

Pony and photographer

as the father crouched down with his camera.

Pony and photographers

While other photographers thronged to the scene the model began smiling for the cameras.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb lamb jalfrezi, her rice with peas, and her sag ponir, with which we both drank Kingfisher.