Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Wednesday 11 April 2007

Mazarron to Valencia - an easy journey

I set off from near Mazarron this morning at about 11.15 and barely three hours later was driving into the hotel carpark here in Valencia, or to be strictly accurate a southern almost-suburb of Valencia called Alfafar. On my way down three months ago I over-rode the route the SatNav had selected (which was the one I took today in reverse) and opted instead for the coastal toll-road which skirts Benidorm; it was a good road although around Alicante there was a lot of work going on constructing new fly-overs, slip-roads etc., so I decided to do what 'Mr Tim' (the voice I have set on my SatNav) suggested today.

Basically shortly before Alicante-proper one cuts inland on the motorway that ultimately leads to Madrid, going in the direction of Albacete. There is a brief section, of about 10 Km, where one leaves the motorway, and re-joins another motorway coming from Albacete to Valencia. Parts of the motorway from Alicante in the direction of Albacete are 'hairy', as it is very busy (or at least it was today) and because it goes through pretty hilly terrain - so there was some spectacular scenery. The break in motorways mentioned above was on a perfectly decent two-lane national highway and wasn't too busy. Once one turns onto the next motorway, heading from Albacete to Valencia, one is on a completely different kind of road, though; long straight sections, occasionally broken by long gentle, sweeping curives as one moved from one valley to the next - of course one covers a lot of road very quickly. The motorway runs through what looks like pretty rich farmland, mostly orange groves as far as the eye can see - I suppose this is the physical evidence of why a well-known variety of orange is called 'Valencia'. I have become used to letting SatNav take me to my intended destination and today that happened extremely smoothly; I didn't bother stopping anyplace on the way as it was such a relatively brief journey. The dog has been given her tea and is dozing again, but as soon as I finish posting this message I'll take her out for a walk before dinner, which I expect will for me be in 2 or 3 hoours.

Tomorrow my journey will be somewhat lengthier, SatNav predicts about 4.5 hours (usually pretty accurate), and with a 'comfort stop' (for me and the dog) and for something to eat I expect I'll take about six hours to reach Girona - a little less than an hour north of Barcelona.

I haven't posted anything yet about the 15 released British military personnel being permitted, very briefly, to sell their stories if they wished. Until the government came to its senses, as a result of the controversy the initial decision caused, and reversed the permission given, supposedly by the Royal Navy without the prior approval of the Ministry of Defence; this has not been stated explicitly by Des Browne, Defence Minister, but it seems to be what his statements today imply. I'm not sure if I belive his story in its entirety and if it is true implies a certain level of dilatoriness in this government's dealings with the military; but we knew that already - Labour regularly displays a lack of sensitivity to, or understanding for, the military 'ethos'. Conservatives don't always get it right either, of course, but I think it fair to say that they generally do it better. Having said all this I was in something of a quandary, briefly, trying to decide what I thought of the concept of military personnel being able to 'sell their stories'. My initial 'libertarian' reaction was: "Good luck to them!" - but a few moments of reflection quickly showed up the flaws in this analysis for unit discipline and the 'camaraderie' which forms such an important element of military life (I am told, because I have no personal experience). I did watch the Faye Turney interview with Sir Trevor MacDonald a few evenings ago and thought that it was moderately well done, although obviously contrived. However I think it would have been better if the interview had never occurred. Unfortunately the British military and, and indeed the whole UK, has been made to look rather silly - as a result of the never-ending media-spinning that this government seems addicted to.

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