On the road again, just can't wait to get on the road again (Willie Nelson)
I promise – I’m not fixated with travel, although it was the theme of my last blog. But after a recent long-haul motorway trip, I just had to share this. But why does it include Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber? All will be revealed...
Veggie Tales are something of a phenomenon, albeit not nearly as popular in the UK as in the States. Our family discovered them on my Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travel Fellowship in 2002, as we journeyed the North American Eastern Seaboard, from the Everglades, south of Miami, to Prince Edward Island in the Canadian Maritimes, home of Anne of Green Gables.
According to Wikipedia (note my attempt to instil some gravitas here) it is a computer-generated musical children's animation and has sold over 6 million books, 7 million music CDs, and 235 million music streams.
Because we were ‘on the road’ so often, this Veggie Tales reimagining of the Willie Nelson classic became a family anthem. Even today if I get into the car with one of my now grown-up children the occasional rendition of this wonderful song will fill the car!
There is your car and the open road, the fabled lure of random adventure. You stand at the verge and you could become anything.
This week my essential trip south took me to North Wales and the West Midlands of England. Although my driving has been severely curtailed over lockdown I felt quite relaxed and was enjoying the spring sunshine.
It was not until the trip home began and I had to rejoin the M6 north that I had a sharp intake of breath. Coming down the motorway slip-road to join the 4 lane ‘managed motorway’ it seemed crammed with fast-moving vehicles of all sizes and shapes and I realised that my driving experience was a tad rusty! As I dropped a few gears and hit the accelerator pedal to merge into the fast flowing traffic I smiled as my mind replayed Bob and Larry!
The open road is a beckoning; a strangeness; a place where a man can lose himself.
William Least Heat Moon
Now it does take a stretch of the imagination to see the M6 on a Monday morning as the open road! But that is how it felt to me. And it took only minutes before I was back ‘in the groove’ and hurtling north, a mere blip among the thousands of cars on the road.
But coming back at something you have not done for a while does give a fresh perspective and I was certainly more aware of, not just the volume of traffic, but also the variety. Motorways – the arteries of our road infrastructure – have revolutionised the way goods and people can move about the country.
Whether it is seeing a Citylink bus or the ubiquitous W H Malcolm HGV (always a wee mental prompt for the Scottish traveller that home is not too far away), I am reminded that our roads infrastructure is nothing short of a modern miracle.
The open road is the school of doubt, in which man learns faith in man.
Infrastructure is one of humanity’s great achievements. And infrastructure requires investment – devoting time, energy, expertise and effort – into building for the future. It recognises that just as we have benefitted from the labours of previous generations then future generations can benefit from our labours.
There just has to be another Bob and Larry song in there somewhere!
Blessed is he who plants trees under whose shade he will never sit.
Stay safe, lead well