I made a few changes to my journey today. I left Cambridge at 0530 and ignored the satnav’s pleas to head south, choosing instead to take the A14 and M11 before hopping on to the A10 to meet up with the A1(M) as the software planned.
The A1(M) was slow in parts but nowhere near as bad as I know it would have been an hour later. I came to the M25 and it was moving. I decided to stick with it until it started to slow down then dive off somewhere.
Previously I’ve reached the Rickmansworth exit but this morning things were slowing before then. I, along with two other drivers who had the same idea, left at junction 20 (I think it was). The Audi in front must have been going a similar way as I followed him straight past the queue going wherever the hell they were going and headed right on to some B road somewhere.
That’s when the fun started.
The Audi and I were doing 70 or so when TomTom decreed that I should turn right ahead. The Audi didn’t slow down. Perhaps he was going somewhere else after all. I did slow down. With the sharp right coming up it became clear that I was going to have trouble slowing in time. I stood on the brakes and turned in … not very much. Then like Obi-Wan Kenobi reaching out to Luke Skywalker with the Force, Walshy reached out to me and I heard his voice telling me about braking understeer. I eased off the brakes, the back end started to slide and as Walshy commanded me to “remember my training” I managed to catch it and continue. I’m sure I looked a right old twat to the car which screamed down the road behind me and three weeks ago I would probably have looked somewhat worse.
The road was pretty narrow and very soon got even narrower. One lane only, with a few holes carved in the hedges to give people room to pull over should you meet an oncoming vehicle. I began to get more and more suspicious as I came down … and back up … a pretty steep hill, something Cambridge folk are unaccustomed to. This was Tom’s Hill and its steep inclines, blind corners and lack of width were surely TomTom’s revenge for ignoring its instructions earlier. You know you’re out in the sticks when the roads have names like Deadman’s Ash Lane. Where was it taking me?
Through a puddle. Twenty metres of standing water were negotiated at a snail’s pace and thankfully the obligatory oncoming cars waited until later to make their appearance.
With that obstacle passed I found myself having fun. If the satnav wants me to take narrow country lanes then who am I to argue. If it were the weekend I would be demanding a similar route. Soon enough, however, I found my way back to civilisation and, slightly further on, the M40. I was even the first one in the office at 0745. Much much better than parking on the M25 for an hour.