I got up in good time today, as I intended to do something rare; that was to go out on my own, to visit the Muckleburgh Military Collection at Weybourne, on the north coast. The twenty-mile drive would only take around thirty minutes, and allowing for some time at the museum, I would be back in plenty of time for Ollie’s walk, and he would not be left alone for too long.
As it doesn’t open until 10, I left home around 9.40 after the morning commuters were long gone, and the local country roads fairly quiet. However, in the space of the next twenty minutes, I was to have three narrow escapes from potentially serious car accidents that could have left me badly injured, or perhaps even dead.
Less than five minutes into the drive, I noticed a car ahead pulling out from a side turning, indicating a right turn. The windows of the small car were fogged up and obscured, the driver having not bothered to clear them before leaving home. As I got closer, the car just turned, seemingly oblivious of my presence. I stamped on the brakes, managing to stop before hitting the side of the car. The young female driver didn’t even glance at me as she passed, confirming my suspicions that she had not even noticed my car approaching.
Some time later, with the roads clear ahead, I approached the small village of Thornage. Up ahead, I could see a Post Office van parked on the left, and the postman was returning to it, having posted some mail into the adjacent cottage. As I drew level, I indicated to overtake the parked van, checking that there was nothing coming the other way. Suddenly, the van pulled away from the side, and accelerated alongside my car, the driver yet again oblivious to my presence. This left me driving on the wrong side of the road, and I blew the horn, and dropped back. The postman then braked hard, almost causing me to drive into the back of him. He waved me past, and as I looked at him, he mouthed the word ‘Sorry’. All I could do was to shake my head at him, and reflect on another lucky escape.
Just outside Thornage, the road narrows significantly, as you approach the town of Holt. There are signs indicating this. They say things like ‘Road Narrows’, ‘Oncoming Traffic In The Middle Of The Road’, and ‘Slow’. Because it is hard for two vehicles to pass, small areas have been provided as passing places, and as high hedges obscure the bends, it is very difficult to see what might be coming around them. Fortunately, I have driven this way many times, and was aware of the problems. As a result, I was going significantly slower than the speed limit.
Approaching one of the obscured bends, I saw a large truck coming at me. The driver must have been travelling in excess of 60 m.p.h., and his vehicle took up almost all of the available road space. I stopped immediately, and watched him come on, sure that he would drive straight into the front of my car at speed. At what seemed the last minute, he noticed me and applied his air brakes. In a cloud of dust, and a hiss of air, he managed to stop less than six feet from my front bumper. The young man driving didn’t bother to acknowledge his dangerous behaviour. Instead, he slammed the truck into reverse, and backed up into one of the passing places. As I drove slowly past his vehicle, he ducked down, as if to retrieve something, presumably to avoid my gaze.
I continued to Weybourne, considering myself lucky to be alive, and praising the four-wheel disc brakes fitted to my car. On some of the quietest roads in England, I had escaped disaster not once, but three times. In less than thirty minutes.
Small wonder I don’t go out much…
There will be some photo posts about the Military Collection, in due course.