LAST weekend I was at a decently upmarket hotel in Wigan, on the face of it an oxymoron but you can't halt progress. No pies, no tripe. Well some tripe, that's what you get when journalists hold meetings.
During the day some time had been spent with Vauxhall's surprising £28k Cascada convertible. Powered by a 1.6 turbo petrol engine is manages a creditable sprint to 60mph in 8.5 seconds but maintains the possibility of 42mpg. That, however, is not the most head turning feature.
IN the land of the crossover it is hard to say who would be king. Anyone looking for one, and I am, can be forgiven for thinking they had woken up in a hall of mirrors. Everybody has one and they all do so much of the same thing while wearing a very similar onesie.
Yes, there are fringe players like the Panda 4x4 and Skoda Yeti promising individuality and prestige Germanic types ensuring blushes are spared at the school gates but right there in the mainstream, the place where you put your kids and the shopping, there is a dizzying array of choice.
PARTING is such sweet sorrow according to the chap from Stratford with the reverse Mohican haircut. In all a pretty stupid idea but handy for padding out act two, scene two of Romeo and Juliet.
I suppose you can just see the lad's point, in such a short while he can once more return to take advantage of looking up at his fancy on a balcony but there is still not much in it for him but the view.
BACK in the days before I had put a promising future behind me, when boys could be boys and speed cameras came with a hand Day-glo copper attached, Subaru was known for its ludicrously fast Imprezas.
You remember the badges, WRX, STi, OMG, cars which inspired a track day culture and were linked to the likes of McRae. That's the late rally star not the kipper fillet manufacturer.
APPARENTLY the place in Britain for the most inappropriate cars is the capital. People who speak Londonish, some with a distinct yah, are most likely to drive an agricultural sized 4x4 despite a distinct lack of muddy hollows and hillside sheep to be fed.
This, frankly, is no surprise. Anyone who thinks £4.75 is an acceptable price to pay for a pint is hardly likely to worry about the top VED band. And neither is a person who will enter into negotiations with an estate agent for a nicely presented wheelie bin in the right area.
THIS month, as the water lapped about our feet, a group representing developers refused on the ground of cost to 'soften' future home building through landscaping and surface draining cleverness.
This is great news for anyone wishing to imitate Kevin Costner and grow webbed toes and attractive new gills. For the rest of us it has put a bit of a dampener on the new year.
RECENTLY one of those ernest wildlife programmes was lamenting the hard times of whales. One species suffers as it migrates and another breed lies in wait to pick off youngsters. Think Salford under water.
Now while this is very sad new for whaleists, nature is red in tooth and claw and eventually a species will succumb to the end game. And whales have been around a long time without modification.
RECENTLY the Government was accused of shoring up the Conservative vote by pressing ahead with more road building projects in constituency's held by the party than others. I can categorically confirm that my local Tory MP has not benefited from this slight of ballot box. The last people to suggest any major infrastructure improvement here were the Romans.
What really surprises me is that anyone is surprised. In my borough every council, sorry social housing, estate is protected by speed humps which would have impressed Hadrian while affluent areas can't even get one of those smiley face things which light up like a Chucky mask when someone passes below the speed limit.
We pour billions into road fund coffers and get doodly squat in return. This year the pothole debate has dropped out of fashion. But it's not because the great cement god in the sky has blessed us with highways of silky smoothness. Far from it.
Do you know how the fixing of pot holes goes? I'll tell you. A white contractor's flatbed turns up in the street and one bloke slings out some Tarmac while another tamps it down with a hand rammer. They get £15 a hole and around my way they often do this work in November. It then rains. Then freezes and the following day the surface looks like Mr Mole has been setting up a Christmas market.
Do not expect this to change any time soon even if the Government has given £30,000 to back the development of a smartphone app to report potholes. Yes, that should do it.
Better to buy a vehicle which will keep you safe and sound navigating moonscape UK.
Like the Subaru Legacy Outback SX Lineartronic. It's not very outback, no corks hanging from the rear view mirror or 'roo bars and side guards but it is all-wheel drive and it is one of the original 'crossovers' although in the olden days we called them estates.
This is a name Subaru sticks with although the roofline has got higher and for a mid-life facelift the nose has been reworked and instruments cleaned up. The big news is what can only be described as a niche within a niche; this is the first car to offer a diesel Boxer engine linked to an auto CVT gearbox.
So how does it all work out on the road? Well this is not an dull performer, well in line with the many other two-litre diesels out there at 9.6 seconds to 62mph. And consumption is nothing to be frightened of, mid-forties would be reasonable with 166g/km for green tax potential.
It's smooth enough and quiet enough, Subaru has fitted plastic paddles I only touched once. Leave it in auto. As CVTs go this is a good one with none of the whining we are used to.
There is only one spec level but it brings plenty of kit with it. Bluetooth, reversing camera USB, alloys and heated electric seats are all there but sat nav is an option.
The interior is big in all directions. It is also unexciting. The cabin is functional, the layout simple and the materials basic.
The unflappable Outback is more than capable off-road although don't expect the country sports community to take it to their bosom while there are 'proper' 4x4s in the same £31,500 bracket. Subaru have been hawking the car heavily in shooting magazines but when I took it out among the pheasants it turned not a head.
It has good ground clearance to go with permanent all-wheel drive. What you get here is a workhorse not a sexy SUV experience. Nothing wrong with that for rural life. And until potholes become vote winners it probably makes sense in town, too.
SO much of the nature of Europe's tribes comes through in cars. German manufacturers are, for instance, efficient and straight-laced. Cars must be examples of masterly engineering with no room for frivolity or poor quality and when this is identified it is dealt with, schnell. Buy buying out Skoda and SEAT for instance.
Then there are English cars. To qualify the company making them must first be sold to someone else on the grounds that there is no money to be made manufacturing Mr Lanchester's infernal contraptions.
IT is easy to be confused by a car.
At the lowest level because you forgot to note down which part of the airport car park you left it and have now spent as long looking for your hatchback as you did flying from Magaluf.