What can you do in a stationary car?
Long journeys can be fun if they go smoothly. Sometimes they are fun even if they don’t. Otherwise, why would anyone risk going anywhere?
But when the journey ceases to ‘go’, when you are stuck, stopped in a traffic jam or otherwise detained - what then?
Then . . . you lower the window and poke your camera into the outside world, never mind that the engine is still running and making everything shake. Or, if you can’t do that, you focus through the window and put up with grime as well as judder.
A stream which is usually shallow enough to be forded has swollen in the (holiday!) rains. Here we are. There’s the road we are supposed to be driving along. In between is a river. What to do? At least, in a place like this, we can turn the engine off for a while - so everyone jumps out to be photographed on the bridge and to persuade the driver not to risk going through the water. We watch other cars arriving on the other side - and turning back. We look round at cars coming up behind us. They too, turn round - and go back the way they’ve come. Then we do a twenty point turn, narrowly miss diving into a ditch - and agree to a less interesting route home.
Accident. Police stop all traffic on our side of the road until it’s sorted. Cars going the other way continue un-interrupted. We are at the front of the queue so we can see what’s happening (ish) and, once the lane is all clear, we have the unusual pleasure of travelling with a completely empty road ahead and a procession with hundreds and hundreds of cars in it chugging along behind.
There are sometimes people to see.
While we were stopped, a man and a woman with metal detectors were hunting for treasure on the other side of the railway-line paralleling our road. One has found something.
Here, while we are stuck on a bridge in heavy traffic . . .
. . .a group of cyclists speeds up a hill below.
Sometimes one can feel very hemmed in but if you free your mind from the idea of weeds - there are generally wild flowers, even in the boring-est of places.
The car edges forward.
There, once more, is a view. Wayside plants take on very different atmospheres, depending on their back-drop.
Even nature can be oppressive when one is going no-where but there are sometimes lots of plants to see - and at the beginning of autumn, when flowers and leaves are goldening, one may even be glad the traffic has stopped.
A few wheel-turns away -
- and a view through a gate. Heather and bracken and trees . . . and more trees . . . first deciduous, then forestry pine . . . and hills and clouds beyond . . .
And when another hill blocks the horizon - is there history under it? Have the treasure hunters been that way? Is there a village beneath? Burial mounds? A road even more ancient than the straight, Roman road we are on? Or even not.
It’s good to arrive on time. It’s horrid to be stopped in traffic. But, sometimes, its a privilege to be where a pedestrian could never safely stand - and see what there is to see.
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All (but one) of these pictures were taken from a car on the roads A31, A35 and the A354 with the motor running and the afternoon light fading. The exception is the ford (or ex-ford!) which is on a minor road running between the B3708 and the A31, near the Rufus Stone in Hampshire. Lesson - if it has been raining for almost the whole of your holiday, a brief moment of sunshine does not mean it’s a good idea to take a detour in the New Forest in the expectation that the rivers there will be running dry!