We’ve just landed home from our epic car journey through France and Spain. 2,715 miles on the clock. The worst of those miles were those completed here in the UK.
I’m not being entirely fair. We had more than a few traffic-jam moments in Barcelona and Toulouse, but we’ve also enjoyed miles and miles of empty motorways and other roads, particularly in France, where driving was nothing but relaxing.
What really makes a difference though, are the motorway service areas. I’ve written before about France’s quiet uncommercial aires, which complement the ones with restaurants, shops and all the trimmings. Even these can be havens of peace though. Look at the Aire de la Porte de Corrèze. Yes, it’s got all the usual facilities. But it’s got space and peace too: a country path, a woodland walk, and a quiet pond.
Now look at the ‘Extra’ service area on the A1 M near Peterborough. Outside space is strictly for parking in. Land is scarce and ruinously expensive in the UK of course. But if only we could have stretched our legs and breathed a little fresh air as we took a break in our journey north. It would have made so much difference.
PS. I arrived home to some good news from the Police in Barcelona. They have recovered certain items following last week’s thefts. I still don’t know what. Watch this space!