We went for a post lockdown break away from the village. We booked well in advance but, unfortunately the break came in the middle of the fuel ‘crises’. Was it a crisis, or was it newspaper led madness. Yes, we have an issue with the lack of HGV drivers and there was a few petrol stations that run low on fuel but, that could have been symptomatic of how they run their stocks. New to me is that petrol stations work on a ‘just in time’ stock basis. They do not request a replenishment until their stocks run very low. They then text their supplier and the fuel lorry turns up the next day. Add in a lack of HGV drivers, they don’t get the fuel as expected and they run out! In comes the dailies and the TV news channels reporting that petrol stations are running out of fuel and, similar to the start of the pandemic toilet roll fiasco, the world, or the South of England, goes out on a fill up spree topping up each of their cars to the brim. I read that normally people keep their cars at half full or top up to half full, so filling up to full is very much out of character . There you have it, another crisis of supply created by the media. But then a lack of news will not sell newspapers.
So in the middle of the created crises we had one more stop at the most expensive hotel of the trip. We thought we would treat ourselves. Not cheap and as it turned out the worst of the trip. OK it was Monday, so not the weekend, but the hotel was operating on a skeleton staff. You had to dial a number on the reception to get someone to book you in. The hotel was a local health centre with the usual enormous windows so you could peer in and there was no one in the pool area, staff or customers.
We had booked an early dinner and went down to the lounge bar for a pre-prandial livener and a bag of crisps. They could do the gin and tonic and pint of Guinness, although strangely for such an upmarket hotel it was not on draft, but they could not do a bag of crisps or nuts. Sorry, said the lone barman, who was later to be the waiter as well, we are waiting on a delivery, HGV driver crisis. I wonder if that is going to be the excuse for every pub/hotel shortage now rather than, and probably more accurately, can’t be arsed to go to the cash and carry. Anyway we had our drinks and were seated in an empty dining room by the same barman guy. The food was adequate in that it provided some sustenance, but you would not go out of your way to go there again. Just out of the packet, pâté was our first course. I am not fond of pâté, preferring to eat vegetables rather than mushed up liver which I find often too smooth and soft, with a clingy aftertaste. Unfortunately there was little else on the starters menu that excited the palate. I had ordered the vegetable curry which is a personal favourite. This was as bland as the rice, but the two for 50p mini naan bread was OK. One thing which you rarely get these days, we were served with a bread roll before the meal. A cheap offering but to me it does make a difference.
We were later joined in the restaurant by an annoying man when we were half way through out starters. I don’t what it is about me, but I find that a man wearing a hat ‘inside’ anywhere as offensive. OK, hats were removed, originally, to stop the dust from the hat getting on the soft furnishings. They were left in the carpet less hall. However I still like the tradition and baulk at the inside ‘hat wearer’, even more when it is a baseball cap worn back to front. I am old and crabby and have a myriad of pet hates, but that is my my most loathed. The ‘hat wearer’s’ partner was, I supposed, a vegetarian in that she asked for the curry. “I am sorry we have run out” was the response from the barman/waiter. My word, her partner was not happy and I was not surprised as it was early in the evening service and for a £250 night hotel it was completely unacceptable. Not sure what his partner had in the end but it was not the bland vegetable curry. Nothing missed there really.
Anyway, on the way along the M4, before we got the hotel, I saw the interactive motorway sign saying ‘Services between J11 and J12, HGV diesel only’, and I thought, bugger. I was relying on the services on the motorway to fill up because these had been reported as being were prioritised to receive supplies. The annoying thing was, I had no idea what junctions 11 and 12 were or which services were sited between them. I know where Membury, Chieveley and Reading are, geographically, but not what Junctions they are close to, or between. So being my usual worrying self I checked to see how far we were going to get on what was left in the tank. Now I love a bit of technology especially when it comes as standard in a car and the trip computer is a much loved bit of kit. I consulted option number five and it showed how long I would get on the remnants of the tank and with the distance remaining calculated by SatNav I worked out that we were going to run out of fuel between the easterly junction of the A14 and A12 and Melton. You can imagine how long you would have to wait for the RAC if you were to admit that you had run out of juice,
We stopped at Membury on the off chance that it was not the HGV diesel only services and after some time in a queue I was able to fill up with the ‘supreme’ version of that Company’s diesel at 1.58 a litre. I would have paid £2.00 just to get some. Having filled up I looked at the difference to range that the top-up had given and matched this with the miles to go on the SatNav. Now tell me if I am wrong but I believe that the range is based on your average MPG achieved over a previous period. So from there to home I decided to use the real time MPG indicator to see how accurate it was, i.e. miles home on SatNav compared to the expected use of fuel according to the trip. After spending about 180 miles keeping our speed at around 55 MPH, I compared the miles left in the tank and the result was quite astounding. I had bettered my fuel consumption by around 20%.
Having looked on the internet, the best speed for fuel saving is between 55 and 65 and the comparison between 70 and 85 is that you will use 40% more at 85 and will be creating more emissions. Mind you if you do travel at 20 MPH less than the speed limit you will get a selection of Audi’s, BMW, very large VW 4*4’s and UTE’s up your rear end, but if they can’t pass then you are saving them fuel and emissions as well so it is a WIN, WIN, WIN.