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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Tuesday, October 10, 2006
    Relief roads
    That detour around Scammonden in August helped me out today. The M62, locked up completely by an accident at its peak, held me in its gassy throng for over an hour, then spat me out into another slow crawling snake on the road towards Halifax. But then a familiar little road over Booth Wood became visible and I took it - ducking under the lee of the motorway, a portal to unchartered places: Barkisland, Greetland and finally Elland, a busy, industrious place which routed me back onto the motorway beyond the blockade.

    Destination: Doncaster, and returning some hours later I took the low road for a change. Too much M62 for one day, I opted instead for a journey through Yorkshire exotic. More unchartered territory. The A639 wound me over and along the tumbling Dearne Valley and span me around Barnsley from where the A628 took me on a breathtaking route over the Howden Moors. This road directs the traveller past the shining waters and stark banks of Woodhead, Torside, Rhodeswood, Valehouse and Bottoms reservoirs into the quaintly-named but choking towns of Hollingworth and Tintwistle.

    No wonder the locals here are decorating trees and gable ends with notices encouraging 'fed-up' motorists to lobby the Highways Agency (tel. no provided) about a longed-for bypass. From here up a long painful ascent (my car's ageing fan belt screaming) the motorist is sucked into Greater Manchester's Orbital road system. And so from there, like one undead, I travelled autohypnotically home.

    Purpose of the journey: very worthwhile; time for some spiritual direction. Good opportunity to reflect on the concerns and excitements of recent months, on where Reading the Everyday might be leading. And ever perceptive, Henry lent me a book to take on that long slow journey home through small everyday-exotic places. Stations, a collection of very resonant prayers-in-ordinary by the Halifax-born, late Simon Bailey: