The game of the name

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

FOR a long time I wanted to move to Crack­pot in North York­shire, just so I could get sta­tionery printed with that ad­dress. As I child I lived near Dork­ing, but there were no such crea­tures as dorks in those days.

None­the­less, Dad said no daugh­ter of his was go­ing to re­side in Hor­sham; I was an adult be­fore I even vaguely un­der­stood his con­cerns.

One of the best things about driv­ing around Bri­tain is to read the vil­lage sign­posts. Th­ese days I’m sure that rush-about mo­torists snap signs for Cock­er­mouth and Crapstone and their pics are posted on In­sta­gram or Face­book be­fore you can say Up­per Toot­ing.

Dad, Mother and I used to travel on day trips by coun­try buses and Bri­tish Rail’s finest and much would be made of dis­em­bark­ing and tak­ing a pic­ture of a sign for the likes of Great Snoring with ju­nior Su­san in the frame as ev­i­dence we re­ally had been there.

The cam­era was a thing of mys­tery for my­par­ents and Dad’s hands would shake while he took a snap and some­times he would cut me out al­to­gether, for which I am now quite grate­ful when it comes to por­ing over faded fam­ily al­bum shots of Slack­bot­tom and such­like.

When­ever I watch telly se­ries set in the soft green coun­ties, such as Miss Marple or Mid­somer Mur­ders, I have a good old smile at the vil­lage names, most of which are made up, such as the sin­is­ter-sound­ing Wy­ch­woodun­der-Ashe of Agatha Christie’s Mur­der is Easy and the en­tire suite of corpse-filled set­tle­ments in DCI Tom Barn­aby’s neck of the woods, from Bad­gers Drift to Mid­somer Mal­low. I’d love to live some­where called Bad­gers Drift, ac­tu­ally, with the prospect of the black and white sto­ry­book crea­tures snuf­fling about and ei­ther of the ac­tors who play the Barn­aby cop­per chaps — John Net­tles as Tom or Neil Dud­geon as John — set­tled in for a pint and a bit of chat­ter about the lat­est body dis­cov­ered in the li­brary at the big house.

There’s some­thing so com­fort­ing, too, about mo­tor­ing through Bri­tain with the big and trust­wor­thy AA Road At­las by one’s side (I have ear­marked the 2014 ‘‘Big Easy Read’’ edi­tion online) rather than a GPS es­cort who, in Eng­land, al­ways is equipped with a voice that sounds like the fa­mously calm and col­lected Lady Pene­lope from Thun­der­birds. Such dead posh nav­i­ga­tors will likely refuse to take you to in­ter­est­ing spots like Slap­pers Rock in Corn­wall, any­way, even if you rat­tle them and in­sist you have no in­ten­tion of pos­ing for saucy pho­tos.

Mo­tor­ing in other parts of Bri­tain can also prove enor­mous fun. Once in County Sligo, Ire­land, the rental car agent in­sisted I take a red ve­hi­cle so I would stand out along coun­try lanes in the soft (wet) weather; green, he whis­pered, could be a dis­as­ter.

At In­ver­ness, the chap who de­liv­ered the car to my ho­tel had popped a packet of fudge in the glove­box and Skelbo fid­dle mu­sic in the CD player. I hummed along mer­rily to Dr McInnes’s Fancy and Fid­dle Feet and Spoons as I mo­tored to Fort Wil­liam via Loch Ness, where, truly, I re­sisted look­ing for signs of its fa­mously elu­sive but none­the­less much-pho­tographed res­i­dent.

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