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We’re off to the South for a few days today. Friends are cat and house-sitting, leaving us free to enjoy Easter with Dawn’s family down in Tilford, Surrey. I expect to be able to do some mobile/rolling blogging, even though we’ll be in the car rather than relaxing on a train.

We both gave up eating meat for Lent, so today we’re heading to the Bolster Moor farm shop to pick up some goodies first – including some of their award-winning pork pies. I told Dawn’s brother (an exile from Yorkshire) that I’d bring him a a red-cross parcel of pork-pies and local bottled beers!

Right, time to get a move on…

10.32am

The weather’s been kind, so we had a lovely cross-country drive to the Colne valley and the farm shop where we stocked up on local produce for export to Surrey. Luckily, we hit them at a quiet time.

Whilst Dawn shopped for meat, I picked up the essentials…

Then we broke our Lent fast with one of these!

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Bolster Moor pork pies are excellent. Freshly made each day, their crusts are crisp but crumbly and the dense meat melts in your mouth. There’s just the right amount of spicing and moisture, unlike their rival from Melton Mowbray, which I’ve always found dry and brick-like. These are proper pork pies!

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Yum!

13.40 Update, Watford Gap service

We’re well on our way South, having stopped at Watford Gap services on the M1 for lunch. Driving across country to the M1 was ‘fun’. West Yorkshire’s road have suffered badly from the ice and snow we’ve had in spades this year. There’s potholes aplenty, especially on the higher roads which are more exposed to the elements. I wouldn’t want to be cycling on them as they’re far worse than the roads in India I did so many mile on earlier in the month.

It was almost a relief to get on the M1. As usual, traffic was heavy with a mix of commercial vehicles and cars. The idiot factor was very much in play on some stretches as some car drivers displayed no sense of lane discipline to dart in and out of traffic almost willy-nilly. As a consequence, Dawn’s language became quite colourful on occasion!

I must admit, Watford Gap’s changed a lot since I was a teenage hitchhiker. I used to pass through frequently on my way to/from London and I spent many an hour here, waiting in hope that the next lift would come sooner rather than later. If you were heading North it was always useful to have a sign saying where you were going as it increased your chance of getting a lift. That’s because the M1 and M6 motorways diverge a few miles North and it saved wasting the time of helpful drivers who were going the wrong way.

In those days the food offering was traditional greasy spoon fare. If you were a vegetarian chips and beans was about your lot. Now there’s a variety of outlets, McDonalds cater for the burger brigade whilst Costa provide for caffeine addicts and the snack brigade. WH Smiths flog the usual sandwhiches but there’s also two different outlets (including a noodle bar that) cater for healthier eaters. I plumped for Paenang curry from Chozen Noodles as a contrast with my earlier pork pie.

14:42.

We left the M1 at Junction 15a, now we’re heading across country on the busy A43, a dual carriageway that’ll take us to join the M40. We’ve left the good weather behind now, rainclouds have swept in from the South so our wipers are working on warp factor four! Soon we’ll be passing the location where the road will be crossed by phase 1 of Hs2, not that you’d know. The local ‘nimbys’ never got round to putting up placards here!

15:32.

A numerical juxtaposition’s seen us swap the A43 for the A34, an even busier artery that serves Southampton, which is why it’s always clogged with lorries. The road also serves as a bypass for Oxford and that stetch had the long Northbound tailbacks we see each time we use the route. Mind you, Southbound’s not much better today and the weather conditions aren’t helping.

18:41

‘Home’ again! After stopping off in Tilford we’ve now settled in to our friends barn for Easter. Let’s just hope the weather picks up now…

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This evening we’re off for a family reunion and meal at the Barley Mow pub in Tilford. I might add a pic or two from there. If I don’t – enjoy your Easter!

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