Saturday, 16 February 2019

On The Road. Driving Stories From The E40

samuele-errico-piccarini-me and the road road trip stories

Six years ago I made the decision to leave home and move across Europe to begin a new life in the UK. Looking back at this stage of my life now I couldn't have done this move without my loyal car - a Vauxhall Agila. People usually laugh at me and my car since it is quite old and very retro-style. It doesn't have heated seats nor electric windows and its acceleration is the lowest on the market. 

When I bought it, it didn't even come with a CD player so I had to build one in. My Agila is classed as a minivan since I prefer "boxy cars" and not snazzy sports cars but you know, no matter how often people would judge me that I drove that "crappy car" it has never let me down in a single moment of my driving life. 

I bought it back in 2011, at 25 years old and fulfilled myself a dream. I always wanted to get a car in between my bachelor and master's course with the aim to drive to the UK. The timing was perfect since I had no academic obligations or "work" to do for once, so the 15 weeks of a break were all to myself. I used that break for an epic summer road trip to Cornwall - but that's a story for another time.

Point is that from my first road trip I would have never thought that I would drive that distance Germany - UK - and back a staggering 15x between the years 2011 and 2014... and most of the time drive those 900 miles all by myself. Oh, those were the carefree days of freedom and adventure and I can't deny how much I actually miss spending some time on the European Road by myself and learning new things as I drove along the empty roads. So I've compiled a few memories from my driving days and hope you'll enjoy. 

Knowing My Way: On The Road Across Europe

My usual route was from Leipzig in the far East of Germany to the Forest of Dean near Bristol which would take me approximately 19h. I would spend the longest part of the day on the main motorway E40 for a good 9h to Calais so I planned to start my trip early in the morning. This would allow me to have the main chunk of driving during the daytime which would keep me awake. I broke up the entire route into three stages: Germany (6h), Benelux to Calais (3h), Crossing (2h) and UK (5h). 

The longest part was crossing my country and I usually got stuck in traffic near Brunswick, got bored by the time I reached Porta Westphalica and knew I was close to my first stop when the radio station would only broadcast English chatter since the area in West Germany used to have a couple of American and British army bases. After 5h of driving, before entering "The Pott" (Ruhr area) it was time for a break. 

Just outside of Dortmund, exit Lippetal there is a great little car stop with a Mc Donalds and a cheap petrol station. By then my tank would need refuelling so it could take me for another 150miles. Plus I always stopped for some chicken nuggets and fresh air before making my way back onto the road. Resistant to long-distance driving, it was helpful for me to mentally break down the route as it made me feel that I made progress.  

Saturday, 2 February 2019

My Ice Skating Playlist

ice skating playlist

I have a couple of playlists compiled on my phone for running and my latest addition is for my ice skating training. In the summer, I discovered Greek web radio Vanilla Deep Channel which has been a treasure trove of discovering new house, dance and electronic music so my list is a mixture of those plus some classic RNB tunes. The whole list covers approximately 48 minutes and I usually have the songs shuffled.

For my training, I need a good mixture of different paced songs so I can use the bassline as a guideline when I try to learn how to control the glide and my body coordination. Hence why I have a few dance songs shuffled with ballads. Sometimes I spend a good amount of time repeating an exercise over and over again (jumps), then I combine them (backward glide and crossings) or at other times I just want to freestyle around the rink and just learn how to control the glide going around in a few loops.
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