I drove out of Milton Keynes towards Kingston, along Standing Way, past Tesco's at Kingston, and out towards the MI at Junction 13, past the Amazon warehouse (having bought quite a lot from Amazon, it seems absurd to think it all comes from that huge warehouse you see at the interchange with the MI and all the other roads, and only a few miles from our home.) There has been considerable work done on the roads here, and it's so much easier and quicker to get to Bedford on the vastly improved dual carriage way. Infact, you can get to Bedford, the A1 and Cambridge really fast now, going via the Bedford by-pass without getting in those awful traffic jams in the centre of Bedford. It probably takes no more than 40 minutes, all told, from our house in Milton Keynes, to the Black Cat Roundabout on the A1. How many people go past and don't give the town a second thought.?I don't actually blame them, as there isn't a great deal to do there. It once had a good shopping centre, but, sadly, with the recession and now the infamous Credit Crunch, the place has got really run down and rather depressing.
Just as I got on to the new stretch of road towards Bedford near the MI the heavens opened and it rained. The windscreen wipers on our car are somewhat unreliable, and bits have come off the rubber, so they aren't as efficient at removing rain from the car's windscreen as they should be, but at least they worked. As cars and lorries went past me they threw up great clouds of mist and water, making visability even more difficult, but the rain didn't last long, and I was soon driving along in sunshine again.
I'm really surprised how quickly I got to the outskirts of Bedford, and came off the bypass at Kempston. I really didn't recognise the road, the new layout, or, indeed where I was at first, until I went over a roundabout and through a set of traffic lights and found myself in Ampthill Road. It was a fairly fast journey into the centre of Bedford, but then I got stuck in a traffic jam along Prebend Street and over the River Ouse, and then along Midland Road, Ashburnham Road and towards Shakespeare Road, where I had intended parking my car. It always used to be free to park around those streets, Milton Road, Spencer Road and Chaucer Road (my old school, Rushmoor, is not far away in Shakespeare Road, not that I want to be reminded of the awful place. More like Dotheboys Hall in Charles Dicken's novel "Nicholas Nickleby.") I then discovered , having found a suitable place to park, that I had to PAY. I looked vainly for a machine. I do remember that when I lived in Bedford the Council, in all it's eagerness to make a quick buck out of the already hard-hit Council Tax Payer, they'd introduce a pay-to-park scheme. When I did eventually find the machine, I could have paid using my mobile phone, and to add insult to injury, I'd incur a 20p fee into the bargain. It was going to cost me the princely sum of £3.20 for a couple of hours (up until 12.50, to be exact.) It was fortunate that I had the correct coinage on me, put the three one-pound coins into the machine, which were instantly rejected! After a couple more attempts the machine graciously accepted my thee pound coins and I was reward for my time and effort with a printed ticket, which I duly affixed to the inside of the windscreen of the car.