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Last winter, just like the winter before it, we had really bad ice here in Chilsworthy. Bad enough that the village was inaccessible to two wheel drive cars for about a week at a time. The lane down to our house is one of those sunken lanes common in Devon and Cornwall, where the level of the fields either side of the lane are several feet higher than the lane itself. Add to this the trees which grow up out of the hedges and overhang the lane, and the surface of the lane gets very little sunlight in winter.

What this meant in practice was that after the very coldest spell was over, some of the ice would melt for a couple of hours a day, seep under the tarmac and then refreeze. The result: potholes.

Now potholes on a narrow lane with high walls either side are more of a problem than they would otherwise be because the road is not always wide enough to drive around them. The safe speed to negotiate the lane in something with hard suspension, like say a Porsche 911 Carrera, is now no more than about 7mph. Both mine and bunn's car have had to have suspension repairs in the last two years (mine a four figure sum) and frankly I blame the road surface.

But salvation is at hand. Workmen turned up this week to apply some temporary looking patches to the worst of the potholes. Since it's now September, I anticipate these lasting until January when they'll freeze off again, just like they did last year.

I pay enough in Council Tax. It would be nice to actually get something in return.

And surely it is not beyond the wits of modern science to design a road surface which could survive these conditions? Since many parts of the world have such conditions regularly, what do they do?


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 11th, 2011 05:16 pm (UTC)
Probably spend more money preparing and responding, rather than saying la la la, this only happens every 20 years, la la la.
Sep. 11th, 2011 06:21 pm (UTC)
There was an interesting difference last winter between Chilsworthy, where we live, and Menheniot, which is the somewhat larger Cornish village* where my parents live.

In Chilsworthy, we were prepared to some extent - people bought their own supplies of grit and cleared their own section of road as far as possible. (The steep and narrow lane to our house was beyond this, but it was possible to get through the flatter parts of the village after a few days.)

In Menheniot, people seemed to just wait for the men from the council to come and rescue them. I had actually stayed at my parents' house after our office Christmas party because I didn't think I would be able to get home (I was right) and because I thought that since Menheniot had flatter and wider and busier roads, they would be passable. In fact, there was less grit applied to the roads than at home, I needed help from some lads by the karting track to get over the top of a small hill and I turned onto the A38 dual carriageway with a very neat four wheel drift.

Bunn says that the people of Menheniot will be "the first up against the wall when the revolution comes".

I'm not sure who is starting the revolution. Maybe it's the self-sufficient folk of Chilsworthy.

* It has a shop! And a church! And a cricket club!
Sep. 11th, 2011 05:31 pm (UTC)
Annoying though it is, and painful though it is to repeatedly have to find money for new suspension brushes, I have to admit I think our county council probably has bigger problems, and this is a consequence of choosing to live where we do. There are always too many lanes, and never enough people surfacing them. At least ours doesn't have stuff growing down the middle. Much.

We do after all have the option of moving to a town, or swapping to 4WD vehicles. Maybe I should trade Helga in for an ancient landrover. :-/
Sep. 11th, 2011 06:09 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure a 4WD 911 would cope with the potholes any better than my 2WD one...
Sep. 11th, 2011 07:35 pm (UTC)
Well no, but you could buy something that was designed for that sort of thing, I suppose.
Sep. 11th, 2011 08:28 pm (UTC)
So probably not any kind of RWD sports car then?

Sep. 11th, 2011 06:08 pm (UTC)
Here: Regular repaving on the busy roads. The not-very-busy roads end up having lots of potholes.
Sep. 11th, 2011 06:23 pm (UTC)
Out of interest, do you have lots of gravel roads passable only with big 4WDs, like in Iceland?
Sep. 11th, 2011 06:37 pm (UTC)
I don't think so. There are gravel roads in the Oslo forest, but that has a national park-type status, and those roads aren't open to general motor traffic. I haven't travelled around the general Norwegian country-side that much though, but the main-roads are paved.
Sep. 11th, 2011 08:25 pm (UTC)
In Iceland outside of Reykjavik and the few other towns, the basic setup is that there is one main road ('Route 1') that circles the country, and that is tarmac for almost all of its length. Then you have the majority of rural roads, which are gravel of varying quality. Signs warn you before you get to the 'Bad' ones. These are bad enough that in our hired VW Golf, driving above 30mph (and 20mph in places) felt like it would shake the car apart.

Then there is a worse category passable only by 'super-jeeps' (big 4WDs with giant wheels and raised suspension). In the winter, the middle of the country is basically closed to all traffic.

Well, except snowmobiles (see userpic)!
Sep. 11th, 2011 08:31 pm (UTC)
This gorge and waterfall was only reachable by about an hour's worth of bad gravel road. Worth it though.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )