Before Mrs Proclaims and I moved to Reading, we spend a year living in an overpriced flat in High Wycombe. High Wycombe is in Buckinghamshire, which might give people the impression that it’s a well-to-do sort of place.
It isn’t especially.
I never like to speak ill of a town – it’s possible that someone reading this is rather fond of High Wycombe.
I, alas, am not.
I’m sure there are lots of things to admire about the place, but Mrs Proclaims and I struggled to find much that we liked.
On the other hand, we genuinely love living in Reading and before we moved here we had no particular reason to imagine that we’d feel that way – I suppose some places are just a better fit for certain people than others and we certainly find Reading to be a better fit than High Wycombe.
Part of the issue was the flat that we lived in was at the top of a massive hill. After years of living in rural Kent we’d kind of been looking forward to the freedom of being able to walk into the town centre as and when we chose to. But, although we didn’t live that far from the town centre, the hill made a casual walk in a bit problematic. I mean it was doable, but it was quite a workout. Mrs Proclaims and I are no slouches when it comes to exercise, but I cannot overstate how ridiculously huge this hill was. And steep. Even walking into town, on the downhill stretch was quite a challenge – walking home, back up the hill, was insanely hard.
And High Wycombe town centre is perfectly adequate, but really not worth the kind of pilgrimage that seemed to be required to get there on foot.
And if we were going to get in the car anyway, then Marlow was just as easy to get to from our flat and quite a lot nicer.
But there was something we did quite like about living in High Wycombe.
It wasn’t the excellent commuter links, though relatively easy access to the several major motorways was quite helpful in allowing us to escape the town for more desirable locations – and there are a lot of lovely towns and villages besides Marlow in the surrounding area.
No, it was the Motorway Services located a mere five minutes’ drive away on the nearby M40.
The Beaconsfield Services.
Beaconsfield itself is the kind of town that genuinely fits the Buckinghamshire mould. It is very pleasant, easy in the eye and home to many people who could never be accused of poverty.
I doubt too many of Beaconsfield’s residents are too bothered about the nearby motorway service station that falls under their ‘jurisdiction’.
But they should be because, as service stations go, it is genuinely a wonder.
Ok, I am being a little facetious – obviously Mrs Proclaims and I did not fall in love with a motorway service station. Nonetheless, in the realm of ‘motorway convenience’, Beaconsfield Services are really quite good.
They have a higher than average array of eateries (including a Nandos for goodness sake! And a Patisserie Valerie!) There is even a Wetherspoons pub. Which is madness when you think the primary function of a service station is as a rest stop for motorists and drinking alcohol while in charge of a car is generally frowned upon in polite society.
Reading is not particularly far from High Wycombe and we often find ourselves driving past the town when we are journeying elsewhere. If such a journey requires a rest stop, we still choose Beaconsfield.
We were there a few weeks ago, on the way back from a concert at Wembley Arena. Even though it was late we were able to avail ourselves of the facilities – Beaconsfield Services are conveniently open 24/7.
So, if you find yourself commuting along the M40, or even along the northern half of the M25, you could certainly do worse than stopping at Beaconsfield.
Although there is a dark side to this motorway haven.
Last year we stopped there, and we saw a robin.
A robin that had clearly been sustaining itself on the myriad leftover junk food in the bins.
And it was quite a bit rounder than I think robins are supposed to be.
A fat robin is a tragic site indeed.