|Nearly home again - leaving the M25|
Philosopher tends to drive for the Birmingham trips. I'm not sure he totally enjoys being a passenger with Battleaxe at the wheel. Athough he contains himself, he does emit the odd muffled hissing intake of breath. I didn't pass my test until I was in my late 30's, went straight from nowhere to aggressive speed-maniac, until I had an accident (my fault) in the fast lane of the M5. I wasn't hurt, but it slowed me down and made me sensible. I think I'm an OK driver, but I guess everyone says that about themselves.... Philosopher is a good driver, he's been at it since he was 17, but he does do much effing and blinding....
Many of the trees are sweet chestnut, formerly heavily coppiced for building, chestnut paling fencing - and Sussex trugs. This lovely photograph is actually from a coppiced Hampshire wood, but is typical - it was a bit early for bluebells on our trip, but we saw plenty of wood anemones.
|Coppiced sweet chestnut wood- not my photo|
|Country lane? No, the A21|
|Scotney Castle Land Bridge|
Then the M25 proper. It can take as little as 40 minutes or as much as two hours to get from the A21 to the M40 junction, and we hate it. The overhead gantries post messages that are either mysterious or depressing: 'Debris on road' - where? 'Incident' - where? 'Congestion' - uh oh, 'Queue after Jct' - oh no, 'Accident', OMG. I wish people would just stop having accidents. They should enforce speed limits more fiercely.
Passing Heathrow is interesting - the planes pass low over the motorway. I was lucky enough to snap this one:
I always like these cherry-pickers near the M4 junction. They are like flamingos or something.
Muntjacs are a small deer with a characteristic barking call. Native to South Asia, they are an introduced species, now widespread, having first escaped from a herd at Woburn Abbey in 1925.
|Muntjac deer, M25/M40|
Having said all that, they do have a nice sitting out area and a walk around a lake, with ducks, but clearly that's only for fine weather. Just for nerds, Beaconsfield has the largest petrol filling station in the country, and is the only service area with a pub - a Wetherspoons.
Past Beaconsfield, the motorway passes through an area with special memories for me, the Chiltern Hills. For many years I lived with my parents firstly near Radnage, near High Wycombe, and then in a little village called South Western, near Tetsworth. I learned to ride at Radnage, and spent happy times riding through the beech woods. I find those woods very beautiful, with the towering grey trunks, pale leaves, copper leaf mould. Here's a photo which shows exactly what I mean.
|Chiltern beech wood - not my photo|
This time, of course, they were not co-operative, and I only managed this distant sighting:
|Very distant red kite|
|View from the Stokenchurch gap cutting|
|Clouds on the M40|
|Obelisk on the M40|
In the rush hour, the M42 can be nearly as bad as the M25, but fortunately we don't stay on it very long, turning off onto the A435 for the last few miles to south Birmingham.
The first glimpses of the city are not edifying, past Maypole, the Druids Heath estate.
|Billesley Lane, Kings Heath|
|Looking down our old road, in Moseley|