Monday, August 24, 2009

The Great North Road

To Nottingham, for a family wedding party. Although the direct route is up the M1, we took the A1 going north, so as to detour to a distinctly strange National Trust site at Lytham New Bield, and then back again because I had a little business to transact in Biggleswade.

I love the A1. For much of the way it is as fast as the motorway, and the odd slowdowns and traffic queues at the few major junctions on the way are forgiven by the views and the wayside distractions of the little towns and the old coaching inns by the side of the road. There are fewer Little Chefs than there used to be (no great loss) but the Fox Inn and the Sibson Inn and our favourite, the Ram Jam Inn, continue to lure in the weary traveller who can easily imagine himself taking refreshment in a room that Dick Turpin might have put his muddy boots up in.

The Ram Jam, lurking on a deceptively empty stretch of road near Oakham, used to put up signs on the approach - "1 mile to the Ram Jam Inn" and when you had gone past - "You have just missed the Ram Jam Inn". Like the Little Chefs, the signs are fewer in number though this seems to increase the pleasure of actually spotting the Inn after the long miles up from London. One day we really ought to stop there.

If that was not enough, the Inn is in Rutland, a county so small it has "Welcome to Rutland" written on both sides of the sign*. Like Middlesex, the planners tried to kill it but it refuses to die. It is another element in the romance of the Great North Road.

*Just my little joke, Rutlanders, no need to start slagging me off on Facebook.

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