Well, after the end of the summer it was time to have a break and fly back home to the UK It It was time for a well needed break to fly home and see family and church.
Seems quite a bit has changed whilst I have been away, quite a few shops have come and gone, and bits of Portsmouth looked little different in two years I have been mostly away.
On the way home from Luton airport, I saw this:
This was quite exciting, the new tunnel in Hindhead was now open!
Later on, I passed this place a week later, as I was getting a bus up to London. The usual trip of going from Portsmouth to London Victoria the quickest route is normally 2 hours and 15 minutes, now its 1 hour and 45!
I remember this tunnel was rumoured in the early 1990s, now after something like at least 4 years of construction and £370m later its now working! Heck in 2003, I did a sales job selling products to people in construction, and this was a juicy deal we wanted to get.
However, the old method of driving through Hindhead has a lot of memories.
One of my close friends lives in Hindhead which is only a few minutes drive east of this junction.
The new tunnel is certainly quicker and convenient, having said that, I quite like driving to the Devil’s Punchbowl in Hindhead. Its a place I have been walking with my grandparents, there’s some interesting antiques shops by the traffic lights and businesses selling ride on lawnmowers and jacuzzis, and you can stop there to get petrol, so it makes a good halfway point when going to London. Sadly the Little Chef got flattened and replaced with flats around the late 90s, the Punchbowl has a place for some epic walks which I have done a few times.
This petrol station is the one and only place where I picked up a hitchhiker who told me he was driving a bus to Glastonbury (or another similar music event) as he worked there with the music industry, and the bus broke down getting him stranded so drove him to Havant. I kicked myself later for not asking if I could cheekily get some free tickets for an event of some kind.
Driving past this point go round the steep bends is a little scary but fun, there has been quite a few accidents, which means sitting in long traffic sometimes, the sharpness of the bends further on meaning you are constantly changing between 2nd and 3rd gear, and makes it demanding and hard work but enjoyable driving especially with some good tunes in the car.
Just like car ownership hasn’t completely eliminated people like riding horses, in post-volunteering life, when I get a car again and need to go this route, I think I will opt to alternate between the new and the old ways of driving. 🙂
Driving through the town of Hindhead and the old main road with its tight bends and hills is truly made of the stuff good road trips are all about I think 🙂 But heck, the new tunnel may become a legend in its own right, apparently the 1.9 mile stretch is used for people in high performance cars to race at night!