eek that was unfortuate! I also know the back roads via Hounslow & T4 because I used to commute from Hendon to Bedfont Lakes daily for 4 months........
It is still preferable to Purley Way though - I got my car broken into there and then there was the time there was a fire in pet food warehouse and we stranded in the car park for 3 hours..........nothing but traumas going to Croydon!
Yes I think knowing the escape routes help! I know south east London far better than the north bit! I do agree that Croydon is best avoided though. Will try to persuade dh that Southampton is the way to go - at least we could find the sea there!
I walk over the M25 everyday on the school run (we're near Heathrow sandwiched between the A3 & M3) and the days it's moving above 40 are less frequent than the days it's moving at less than 40 in at least one direction!