Inevitably, travelling so much, one has the odd mishap. A missed train connection here, a car breakdown there. There are, it has to be said, good places to break down, and spots which are not so felicitous. The A1 highway in eastern England is, on the face of it, in the second category. Teeming with traffic, a motorway in all but name, it is often called the Great North Road. The hard shoulder of the Great North Road, near Stamford on a hot summer day, is not a place you really want to be. Well, not a place we wanted to be!
The engine of our rental car had spluttered erratically through the Lincolnshire Wolds. It eventually died on the A1. We crossed the River Welland and rolled to a halt just where the Great North Road, the main route linking Edinburgh with London, crosses a railway line. Fine views of Stamford's churches away to the east to be sure, but, all in all we would have been happier speeding south in the fast lane.
The half hour wait for the car breakdown service turned out however to be improbably productive. For foraging on the embankment that led down to the railway, coppices and water meadows below our stranded car was a group of young people armed with tape measures, staves and cameras.