At Random with Martin Laing

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Roads are a complete disgrace

As we report elsewhere in this week’s paper, there is very serious concern over the state of the roads in  Argyll.

The A85 through Connel is an utter disgrace, with the surface completely broken up and with multiple potholes. On a recent drive through the village, I witnessed a number of cars almost colliding as their drivers took urgent action to evade the worst of the holes, swerving into the path of each other and only just avoiding being hit.

Now, before I continue ranting, I am well aware of the time of year and the degradation wrought by freezing conditions in winter.

However, the shockingly poor condition of the trunk routes – never mind the lesser rural roads – is now posing a genuine safety problem.

It is incumbent upon the relevant national bodies to ensure the roads are fit for purpose and safe for us all to use. The A85 and other routes are manifestly not achieving that status.

We had a spirited response to a post we shared from the Oban and Lorn Road Watch Facebook page last week. In the message, Charlie Jack recounted how a wheel on his car was damaged beyond repair after whacking into a six-inch deep pothole at Benderloch. A number of our readers chronicled similar experiences or near things.

It is simply not good enough.

Flooding on the A85 is worse

While I am on the subject of roads, and staying on the A85, the flooding on the stretch between Brander Lodge and Lochawe is worse than ever.

I wrote in this space not too long ago about the need for action to deal with this and I make no apology for returning to the subject.

I drove up to Oban from the central belt on January 2, a day of poor weather with snow, sleet, rain and hail. That stretch mentioned had multiple areas of flooding and I saw three cars almost lose control as they hit the water.

I honestly believe it is only a matter of time until there is a serious accident caused by the flooding. As I wrote back in November, it can’t be beyond the wit of the relevant authority to put better drainage in place at these flooding blackspots to prevent a major accident on this main road.

Lost for words

I’ve written here before about some of the odd emails that drop into my inbox, usually from PR companies promoting the results of what seem spurious research projects.

So it was that another one landed in my email last week from a lady who toils in the press office of the hotel group Travelodge.

This missive details some of the objects left behind in their rooms by guests around the country.

The top 10 most common items left in Travelodge hotels across Scotland during 2017 pose few surprises – chargers for mobile phones and electronic devices, tablets, mobile phones, business papers and notepads, teddy bears, toiletry bags with contents, drones, pyjamas, socks and ties, and books.

However, there have been some items abandoned – accidentally, we must assume – that might raise an eyebrow or two. These include a coin collection worth more than £200,000 (in Perth) and a six feet tall antique grandfather clock.

My favourites, though, were a replica of Ben Nevis made from shortbread (an alternative wedding cake) which was found in Fort William, and a pair of Swarovski-encrusted wellington boots which were left in Edinburgh.

Who on earth felt the need to adorn a pair of wellies with fake diamonds? The old phrase about more money than sense springs readily to mind.

What do you think?

Write to me at or The Oban Times, Crannog Lane, Oban, PA34 4 HB.