My Leaf – starting to feel more adventurous

Last Thursday I set out for lunch with my daughter who lives near Milton Keynes. Unless I stop over it is too close to the edge of my charge limit just for a couple of hours together.

I set off with a full charge and an almost total dual carriageway and Motorway drive. The most challenging part would be the A44/A444 from home to the M5. It is mostly a good road but, despite recent improvements, it can prove a challenge to handle a heavy volume of traffic. It is also riddled with roundabouts – a stop/start I could do without; but it is only a dozen miles to the M5 and then, from there by way of the M42 and M40, to Cherwell Valley services where I could charge before finding a nice pub for lunch.

I have established that a steady 60 mph, using the speed limiter, is ideal.

Firstly I noticed how much my range predicition improved once I was off the A444 and cruising along the motorway. Secondly, most of the time, the traffic in the nearside lane travels at 60 and, as this includeds a good number of cars and small vans, it is not uncomfortable.

The journey, as you can see from my dial below, was 75 miles and even at 70 mph the journey would be 64 minutes. Given that, either way, I would not have travelled any faster on the ‘A’ roads, a journey of 96 minutes was good for me; probably, in reality, the lower speed only costing me an extra 16 minutes more than  me wife’s Rover 75.

Yes, I know that some drivers go well above 70 but I was surprised to see how relatively few are actually driving so very much above the speed limit. Perhaps, if a driver is regularly at 80 mph, he probably only really notices others travelling with him, with the perception that this is the normal speed?

The third aspect to maintaining the constant speed is how relaxed I feel at my destination. My foot off the pedal most of the time and much less stress travelling with the flow really does change the way I feel. After a life of business miles at full pace driving is beginning to feel much better.2015TripSeeEmmaCarGuage







After a full charge at Cherwell Services on the M40 I was back to a predicted 109 miles – after a long mororway drive that’s not bad?






For lunch we went to the Trigger Pond at Bucknell in Oxfordshire just a few miles from the services. A truly lovely traditional pub with very good food.

2015Sept_TriggerPondBucknellLunch and a nice time with Emma over it was time to get back on the road again.

The one small dissapointment with Cherwell was that there was only one charging point and one bay – at least it served the Nissan.
2015SeptCherwellServicesCloseupIf another car is charging you either park in the motorcycle bay by alongside or park elsewhere and maybe lose your place to another EV.

As I waved good bye to Emma on the roundabout as she drove off home, I turned back into the services for a charge to get me home. A small ICE parked in the bay with a couple of women and some children snacking in the car.

I pulled alongside and asked whether the could please move. They shrugged their shoulders, wound up the window and continued eating. I had to get out of the car and, politely, explain what the notices in front of their car meant. Another shrug and a couple of minutes later they reversed out for me. And so back to a full charge.

The return journey was not as relaxed as the journey down; at the end of the day it seemed that everyone was on the roads.  The notion that the nearside lane travels as a steady 60 went wild. Lane changing, bunching and some thoroughly bad and selfish driving meant that I often had to kick the ECO bit to be clear of trouble.

Onto the M42 and it became very clear that I would be unlikely to get home on the remaining charge. The next possible ‘fill up’ was the services at Welcome Break Hopwood Park. I was unaccustomed to finding charging bays busy as I pulled in alongside another Leaf on charge. I’ll be a while he said; no problem I’ll get a coffee, I can wait. OK, I won’t unplug ’till you get back so that you don’t lose you place.

I always find EV drivers a friendly lot. I took my coffee back to the car and he obligingly said he would just get enough charge to complete his jouney so I could then charge.

That gave time for some good conversation with others, especially the guy with the BMW i3. You have the range extender? Yes. How does that work for you . . . A conversation around the value of an added 100 miles when needed was interesting and makes the BMW more interesting if you do a lot of miles.

Soon I ws charging and back on the road. This leg of the day’s driving was about 50 minutes longer than the morning but it felt so good to find that longer journeys are no problem – so long as the chargers are working!

I am starting to feel more adventurous.