M1 motorway will be 50 years old.
I love the M1. Being from Nottingham (Junction 25) it was the road that connected me with London when I was a child and we were visiting my dad's parents down south. As I got older it was the road I travelled on for my first teenage exploration of the capitol, then the road I traversed as a touring actor and later the road that took me to my then girlfriend.
Then it became the road that I travelled on with Mark in his Volkswagen Transporter, that was packed to the gunnels with my life as I left Nottingham to build a life as an actor down in London town. Anyone who has travelled southbound on the M1 you'll know that the Nissan offices situation right next to the M1 about 9 miles from London have a sign saying: "WELCOME TO LONDON"
I love that sign, especially that day when I came down to live here for the first time and every time I pass it it reminds me that London is the place I call home and that it a led to more than I can could have ever imagined. Here I am, with a beautiful girlfriend, making a living as an actor and owning my own home in London. All done on the back of the grand old M1.
I must confess, I have a soft spot for motorway service areas, that wonderfully British phenomena of over priced food, smelly toilets and an odd bustle of characters that pace the highways of the UK like motorised ghosts.
M1 has many great services: Tibshelf, Trowell, Watford Gap but my personal favourite is London Gateway; the last or first services depending on which way you approach London; people there after getting out of London having a breather, or the last wee stop as you wade your way into the capitol.
Built in 1969 by the old legends of UK service areas Forte, the most amazing thing about it is that the guns on the HMS Belfast, which is some 12.5 miles away and moored on the Thames, are trained on the service station to not only show how powerful her guns are but that service stations are vulnerable to shelling...