We knew driving in England would be an adventure. It took me forever to choose a car (Four Wheels), and I made sure that Hubs was the one who would be driving. Paid more for the automatic so he could get used to driving on the “other” side of the road (we’ve forced the kids to stop calling it the “wrong” side). Better learn it now because he’s got a manual car coming in Ireland — can’t afford an automatic there!
If you’ve been following the blog, you know that I sent Hubs off on his own to pick up the car. I figured having me in the car the first time he drove could be a disaster. My friend, Megan, who recently learned to drive in England had told me, “my advice is to try to be calm if/when you correct” Hubs. So, when the family did get in the car with Hubs the next day, it went like this:
Me: “I am going to stay quiet and not say anything so I don’t startle you.”
Hubs: “Not say anything? First of all, knowing you, that’s not possible. Second of all, I NEED your help! You have to tell me if I get too far to the left.”
OK. Permission granted to “calmly” advise Hubs when his driving is scaring the crap out of me.
we he start(s) driving. And, pretty soon, he is too far to the left. Which goes like this.
Hubs moves over further to the left.
Me: “What are you doing?! You are too far over!!”
Hubs: “Ta-ta-ta means too far over?! How in the world would I know that? You need to say, ‘You are too far over.’ Not ta-ta-ta!”
Me: “Well, I didn’t want to startle you. I was being polite.”
Hubs: “No, you were freaking out and trying not to let me know.”
I then resorted to quietly saying, “You are too far over.” Which evolved to shouting slightly, “You are TOO far over!” Which has now become, “TOO CLOSE!”
And then there are the roundabouts. The GPS tells us to take the 2nd exit at the roundabout, then the 3rd exit at the roundabout. Because the roundabouts never stop. Ever. Driving 5 miles? 10 roundabouts minimum. Sidenote: why is it miles here and not kilometers? Just to mess up the Americans who are trying to learn the metric system to fit in?
At one point when we were driving, I pulled out the Rick Steves book. (Total count: 5 Rick Steves guidebooks, 5 maps purchased through Rick Steves, 4 Rick Steves carryons, 30+ Rick Steves podcasts, 1 Rick Steves wallet, 1 Rick Steves clothesline — it would have probably cost less just to buy Rick Steves a ticket and bring him with us.) I pulled out the book while Hubs was driving and started reading about driving in England. Yes, I know, it would have been a good idea to do that BEFORE getting the car, but we can’t be perfect.
I read out loud about how you need to pull over for cars on narrow streets. I have to say that quickly became obvious when driving on a road that literally felt driving along the DisneyWorld Tomorrowland Speedway except that there are two guardrails on the sides (otherwise known as curbs) as opposed to underneath the car. And I read about how the larger the number of the road (i.e. A213 vs. M4), the narrower the road.
About that time, we took two wrong turns at roundabouts. Basically, I’m supposed to help count (“1 exit, 2 exits, GO!”), but I was too busy reading. So our GPS (which I have now learned is a “SAT NAV”), rerouted us and told us to “Turn left on Angel Road.” Hubs and I looked to our left, and I said, “There it is — TURN! Why aren’t you turning?” only to notice that it was an alleyway that you enter through an arch and which looked about 4 feet wide. “Nope, no way,” Hubs responded. “Not happening.” Then we both looked at the road again since we were stuck in traffic, looked at each other and burst out laughing. Neither of us could even begin to envision driving down that
hamster tube road.
So instead we took the next turn that our SAT NAV advised — A4327.
A4327. Four numbers.