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England's Newest Tourist Attraction


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m25

A traffic jam on the M25 motorway.

Are you planning a visit to England? Are you thinking to yourself, “What shall we do in England? Are there any really special places that we must go to when we are there?” You are? Good, then this podcast is for you.

When you are in England, you could visit the Tower of London. But everyone visits the Tower of London. Or you could spend a day in Stratford-on-Avon, where Shakespeare was born. But everyone goes to Stratford. No, England’s newest tourist attraction is the M25 Motorway, which is the motorway that runs in a circle around London. It is 188 kilometers long; it is Britain’s busiest motorway, and one of the busiest roads in Europe. A bus company in Brighton now offers coach trips round the M25, and business is brisk. It seems that lots of people like nothing more than sitting in a coach on a motorway. So let us pay £15 for our ticket, and board the coach which will take us on this amazing adventure.

We head north from Brighton to the motorway, and then drive down the slip road. There are of course two possible ways that we can travel around the M25. We can turn left and travel clockwise, or we can turn right and travel anticlockwise. Today the driver decides to take us anticlockwise. As well as the driver, there is a guide on the coach who tells us about the interesting things we can see – things like “junctions” and “road signs”. The motorway today is busy, but not yet congested. We are a little bit disappointed by this. We hoped that we would find a traffic jam, because the M25 is famous for its traffic jams. Indeed, some people call the M25 the “largest car park in Britain”. Never mind, there is still a long way to go, and maybe we will find a traffic jam later.

Now the coach is taking us around the south-east edge of London. Soon we will come to the River Thames. Because we are travelling anticlockwise, we go under the river in a tunnel. Traffic going the other way crosses the river on a bridge. We have to pay a toll to use the river crossing. In the rush hour, there can be long delays at the toll booths, but today we only have to wait about 10 minutes.

On the other side of the river, something very exciting happens. There are some roadworks, where men are repairing the surface of the motorway. Along the side of the motorway there is a long line of red and white traffic cones. People on the coach use their cameras or their mobile phones to take pictures of the cones. On roads in Britain, we have many more cones than cars; and the manufacture of traffic cones is an important national industry. The traffic comes to a standstill, and we wait. There is a sign that tells us that we must not go faster than 40 miles per hour, but it is pointless because we cannot move at all. We look at the traffic going the other way. It is moving freely while we are stuck in a traffic jam. Slowly we move forward, and reach the place where the road is being repaired. There is a big machine for resurfacing the road, and several lorries, but strangely no-one seems to be doing any work. Our guide explains that this is normal.

Now we have passed the roadworks and come to a service station. The coach pulls in, and we all get out to go to the toilets and to queue for cold coffee and rubber sandwiches in the cafe. After our break, we travel down the busy western section of the motorway. Here the traffic is nose-to-tail, and there are special speed limits and speed cameras which photograph your car if you drive too fast. We pass Heathrow Airport and the passengers take out their cameras again, to photograph a plane that is flying low over the motorway as it comes in to land.

And then, the highlight of our tour! Signs over the motorway tell us that there has been an “incident”. An “incident” means, simply, something which has happened. Generally, we use it to mean something unusual or unpleasant. “Incident” is the sort of word which the police use when they don’t want to tell us anything. So, what sort of incident could it be? An accident involving three lorries and twenty cars perhaps? Or a gunfight with a gang of armed criminals? Or a cow, which has escaped from its field and run onto the motorway? But when we reach the “incident”, there is nothing to see but a broken-down lorry and a police car.

Then we turn off the motorway, and soon we are back in Brighton. The passengers say thank you to our driver and our guide, and get off the coach to be greeted by their families and friends who are waiting for them. Our adventure by coach around the M25 has taken us only four hours, but we will carry the happy memories with us for the rest of our lives. If you have an equally wonderful tourist experience in your country, why not leave a comment on the website to tell us about it.

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