The Tarmac Fairy is Dead. Long Live the Tarmac Fairy

May 24, 2016

community council agenda

In my role as secretary of the community council (fortunately – or unfortunately* – ours survived the night of the long knives which saw 38 of them axed by the coonsil due to failure to fill in the correct paperwork in the right order, something which I predicted as far back as December when we realised the evilly bureaucratic genius of the process involved in not having your community council dissolved) I have received what I believe to be the ur-specimen of a coonsil email:

1. It has been openly copied to 53 separate email addresses (I think I probably have access to every email address in the county by now due to the coonsil’s inability to master the use of the bcc field), although to be fair, that’s actually quite parsimonious for a coonsil email distribution list.

2. The email itself says nothing much except to direct me to an attachment which I then have to download to read. There was nothing in the email to suggest that this might be quite an important and relevant email, in contrast to most of the other regular emails I get from the council which are almost entirely irrelevant. But then I suppose if the coonsil thinks that all the emails it sends are vitally important even the ones attaching a newsletter which summarises the feedback it’s had on its strategy for the consultation over its strategy for the proposed merging of social and medical care.**

3. On downloading the attachment, because I’m diligent like that, I discover it is written in pure coonsil (‘undernoted’ anyone?), but on careful parsing I realise it’s a road closure notice – for our own road, as it happens – for the period of a month (I might have been tipped off about this by the weekly email I get which tells me about road works across the whole of the county, but which is fairly useless to anyone who doesn’t know their U33Bs from their C25Ns and so I’ve stopped reading it with any real attention).

4. On further inspection, this road closure notice appears to be an arse-covering exercise on the part of the council who have decided they’re going to be mending the road at some point during the next month but aren’t sure when, so they’re just going for a blanket order so they can close the road when they need to, which is wonderfully convenient for them, but slightly less convenient for the people who actually live on the road. When it comes to following the letter rather than the spirit of the law, this coonsil wrote the book…

5. Just to add injury to insult (from a cyclist’s point of view) they’re not actually mending the road, they’re just surface dressing it.

6. And finally, if we have any comments, we have to respond ‘within five working days’. Which would be great, if the road closure wasn’t due to start the day after tomorrow.

I have sent them some full and frank feedback all the same.

* Encouragingly, at least one of the axed bodies has effectively gone feral and has been busy spending the money it had built up in its account on useful things like bus shelters so the coonsil can’t get its hands on it. I bet being secretary of a rogue community council involves a hell of a lot less paperwork and more actual doing stuff. I wonder how many guerrilla bike lanes we could have got installed before anyone stopped us …

** I really wish I was making that up.

Exciting Pothole News

May 4, 2015

I know, I know, the suspense has been killing you – I promised you news of the tarmac fairy and have been burbling on about chilli seedlings instead.* But I have news. The tarmac fairy returned last Monday and – as I discovered as I cycled home from the train station on Friday – has been joined by her bigger and uglier cousin, the chipping gnome.

patched potholes

Or rather the automated tar-and-chipping-pothole-patch-covering-machine – which was almost, but not quite, as good as the Jet Patcher, which still represents a pinnacle of the road mending art around here (and although I was sceptical at the time, its pothole mending stood up fairly well to the test of time). The other half got to watch it do its job – going around after the tarmac fairy had been, covering her traces with a spray of hot tar followed by a spray of chippings and then, rather disappointingly, having to reverse back and forward over the resulting patch to tamp it down with the wheels (you’d think it at least would have had a roller).

Given that it’s been barely six months since we last had a visit from the tarmac fairy, I hope this does a better job. In fact, the road has been patched so many times outside our house, you’d think they’d just break down and re-lay it but I suppose there’s no point doing that while there are quarry lorries bombing down our road. And as long as there’s road mending to do, there will always be quarry lorries, so we’re stuck with the potholes and the patching. I don’t think that’s quite what they mean by the circular economy.

And speaking of rare creatures spotted out of the kitchen window, the other half called me into the kitchen yesterday evening to see this

garden pests

On the whole, I think it’s an improvement on the actual flowers it was eating, but then again I’ve never really got the hang of ornamental gardening

* The little chilli that could is still hanging in there, if you’re interested, but looking somewhat less than perky

Make Do and Mend

March 20, 2012

The problem with knitting your own socks, is you feel compelled to darn them too:

Clearly alpaca, while lovely and soft and warm, is not particularly hard wearing. My darning skills are about as effective as the council’s pothole mending ones but I’m hoping this way I can make them last long enough for me to knit the next pair.

And talking of potholes, look:

After two years when we’ve had nothing but road patching, last year’s mild winter has clearly left enough in the budget to put in some shiny new road! This stretch used to include a shocking section which was actually dangerous because it left you with a choice between swerving right across the road or risking coming off on what was basically loose scree. The other stretch they did wasn’t quite as bad – in fact I can’t really remember it being that bad at all, although I suspect my tolerance for potholes is quite high as I’m mostly able to go around them.

In the four years we’ve been up here, they’ve managed to do three sets of resurfacing on the Papershop village road, each amounting to about half a mile. So at the present rate of progress, they should have completely resurfaced it in, oh about another eight years.

By which time, if the last lot of shiny new road is anything to go by it should be time to start again:

It’s just like knitting socks, when you think about it.


February 25, 2011

There was much excitement in the Town Mouse household when a council lorry appeared on the road outside.

‘I think they might be coming to mend the potholes’ the other half said.

‘They can’t do that! I haven’t taken any pictures of them yet!’

This is the problem with not having a working camera. I’ve been meaning for ages to post about how the melting of the snow and ice has revealed that there are places on our road which are now more pothole than anything else. There’s one outside our front gate that you could lose a bus in (if it wasn’t so shallow), and another one on the back road to Bigtown that’s so nasty someone has stuck a traffic cone into it. There are junctions which are just basically rubble and even where there are no actual potholes, parts of the road have cracked right along the centre of the tarmac which does not bode well for the rest of the year. But I’ve been putting it off until I could illustrate it because otherwise you’d probably never believe me, especially about the bus part.*

As it happens, our excitement was a little premature. Yes they’d come to mend the potholes but it would appear they hadn’t brought enough tarmac to fill the bus-sized one so they half filled it and disappeared. My bike ride down for the paper revealed that they’d been doing a similar job all the way to the village – a rough splodge of tarmac into each of the worst offenders, looking as though the repair had been done by those people who come and offer to tarmac your drive for you (or else some enthusiastic but largely unskilled members of the Big Society). In many places, the ‘repair’ has been done over and over again (including the – actually surprisingly long-lasting – efforts of the Big Yellow Road Mending Machine). I know nothing about road mending, or councils, so I have to assume that this isn’t the enormous waste of money that it appears to be. Presumably it either slows down the deterioration in the road surface long enough for them to get round to fixing it properly, or it at least keeps the claims for damages to tyres and wheels down to a reasonable level.

So anyway, the good news is that I can cycle a little bit more securely in the dark, at least until the next time it rains, and what’s more, the chances are that by the time I get my camera sorted out, the potholes will still be with us so you can see them in all their glory. And then you’ll have to believe me about the bus.

*all right, a very small bus. But then our buses are quite small.