An afternoon stroll down the old Wardley Hill in Rutland. I reckon this stretch of road, now by-passed by a streamlined version a field away, hasn't seen holiday Austins desparately trying to overtake grumbling Albions for at least twenty five years. I was surprised that the double white lines were still visible, punctuated by intermittent cat's eyes in their perished white rubber holders. Except the glass lenses had been levered-out long ago with local schoolboy penknives. The undergrowth at the sides had not encroached across the road nearly as much I would have expected, and on one stretch the precipitous drop on the north side is still guarded by a crash barrier entwined with hawthorn. What's so fascinating about all this? I think it's because this was once a thundering highway, one of the very few west-east routes between the heart of the Midlands and East Anglia, and as a child I remember sitting next to the driver of a fully-laden Midland Red coach as he skillfully sorted the gears out for the long climb. The coach was one of a red and black convoy making for Norfolk, and the white-jacketed driver heaved a visible sigh of relief when the summit was reached at Uppingham. I tried explaining all this to a lady taking her dog for a walk, but she smiled wanly and hurried off over the horizon.