Northward Ho!

After leaving the south coast, we fought the joys of the M-25 and M-1 on a Bank Holiday weekend. For those who may not be familiar, the M-25 is to London what I-495 is to Washington, D.C. – a ring road.

Only, on a Bank Holiday Weekend, it is simply a multi-hour parking lot. Think lots and lots of clutch pumping. Finally, we were able to join the M-1, the UK’s main north/south axis (think I-95) and start north. This may be a good time to introduce some essential Anglicisms – “tail back” and “queue,” both words usually pronounced with a wide range of select obscenities! That was the bad news. The good news is that UK motorways are excellent with some very nice features.

First, most on ramps are two lanes wide and join at two points on the road. This smooths out the traffic flow immensely.

Secondly, most British drivers are simply more courteous than their American counterparts. For example, regular drivers, not just truckers, routinely move out of the slow lane to let you merge – especially nice if you are driving a heavy and underpowered truck.

Finally, passing on the left, or slow side (Same as passing on the right in the US.) is almost always illegal, so again, with a slower vehicle, you are much, much less likely to get “trapped” in a faster lane should, for example, you move over to allow an HGV (heavy goods vehicle, or “artic” – articulated lorry or, in ‘murican, a semi) to merge. And speaking of HGV’s some are double trailers and some are double height, and lots are foreign; a wild new world. (We will return to this theme later.)

After some hours, we reached our first UK campground, the White Mills Marina just south of Northampton.  ( A lovely spot to gather ourselves together, take walks along the towpath beside the River Nene and make a shopping trip to complete our supplies.

View down the Nene, with White Mills in the background. Traveling by narrow boat, this would be what you saw looking for a riverine rest stop or service area.
The marina was full of boats of all types.
Narrow boat leaving the marina.

The marina was an interesting insight into the parallel world of river boat travel with lots and lots of narrow and wide boats. Some are floating hotels, some are day trippers for tourists, some are rentals, and lots are simply people full timing, just like their cousins in RV’s. And the marinas offer all of the same amenities as an RV campground. White Mills is simply nicer than most.

We first discovered this world when, some years ago, we took a short trip on the “Wessex Rose.” She has new owners, but looks to be as lovely as ever. ( Geek note: The Wessex Rose is a “wide” boat. Some of the hotels are two narrow boats, a powered boat with day facilities which tows a second boat which contains the sleeping accommodations. At night, the two tie up side by side.

On to the halls!

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