Friday, March 27, 2009

Now I Know How Richard Petty Feels

Okay, so maybe not the speed thing but let me just tell you…I think I have the reflexes of a race car driver after 6 years of UK driving. Do you remember the Pac Man video game? Well, let’s just say that quite often when I’m out driving here I feel a little bit like the character in that game. You can’t get anywhere in my little village without going around something, usually a randomly parked vehicle that leaves precisely enough space between it and the next vehicle so you can whip your car in between the two vehicles while someone coming the other way attempts to go around you without taking off your mirror. Make sense? Welcome to my world.

The women’s club I’m a member of holds newcomer’s coffees about four times a year where we cover a wide range of topics including why you need salt in your dishwasher and limescale tablets in your washing machine, where to find Skippy peanut butter, how to register with the NHS, how to manage your 237th set of houseguests and why you shouldn’t feel too badly when you yank the side mirror off the left hand side of your car. And, oh yeah, btw, you’ll probably also shred a tire or two initially because you’re sitting on the right hand side of your vehicle and driving on the left hand side of the road. For a second I had to think about what side of the road we drive on. Don’t ask my kids about our first trip back to the states after we’d been here a few months. I might possibly have been driving on the left hand side of the road when I pulled out of their pediatrician’s office in Maryland and it took my non-driving 13 year old daughter to remind me that the truck I was shouting at was actually in the correct lane and I was really really scaring them. I’m much better now. I hardly ever do that.

Today I was on what is actually one of my favourite roads in our little area. I tried my best to take a photo since I seemed to have the road to myself. Doesn’t really capture it like real life though. Basically you start off on a road with two lanes, traffic going into the village and traffic coming out of the village. So far, so good. Suddenly the road narrows to one lane. Still…traffic coming into the village and traffic going out of the village. Except now we are sharing one lane. If you’re having trouble visualizing this, what I’m saying is we are coming STRAIGHT AT EACH OTHER. Did I mention that the road has high hedges on either side? Well, it does. I told you…just like Richard Petty.

Anyway, along the road in a couple of places there will be a mound of dirt pushed at an angle up one side of the hedge and depending which side of the road this ‘cutout’ is on dictates which driver ‘pulls over’. I made the trek down this road every Tuesday for 5 years to take Daughter2 to her piano lesson. When you come out of the hedges you feel like you’ve stepped back in time because the most darling little village known as Hedgerley sits right in front of you. The flower pots and baskets outside their pub are always so beautiful. Again I tried to snap a picture but the pub was busy and there were a lot of cars parked out front.

One of the things we do love about the roads here are the signs. This one is seen often….

How about this one....
I could probably write a small book on this topic...I mean I haven't even mentioned speed cameras, zebra crossings, toucans and no humping and yes, they all pertain to driving. Did I tell you I can walk to my village High Street from my house. That means I can walk to the shops, the bank, the library, the church and the post office for which I am truly thankful. I'm pretty sure drivers around Great Britain are equally thankful.


  1. I love your blog! I can SO relate to all of this! :) Sheep in the middle of the road make for an interesting drive too! :)

  2. I had just commented to you about coming home and having trouble driving here and you posted about driving in the UK. Small world!! I bet it is hard to get used to driving over there. You could write a book on your UK adventures, I'm sure!!! Have a wonderful weekend. Love & blessings from NC!

  3. It sounds almost as scary as driving in Atlanta!

  4. I drove a total of ONE time in the UK. When we were there in April 08, we did rent a car. But Charlie did all the driving. I didn't have the nerve.

    When in Wales, going down narrow roads with stone walls or hedges, my job became saying "wall" or "curb" or "hedge" whenever Charlie veered too far to the left. (And I was motivated, being that the hedge/wall/curb was usually inches from me.)

  5. What a wonderful post. It's truly fun to happen upon a new site that has something off the beaten path (Ha-path, road, genius = me.) My daughter visited London last year through school and would love to return, but I'd like to see more of what you're describing. OK-I NEED to know the history behind the sudden gunfire sign. What's up with that? I'm following you now, btw.

  6. Sudden gunfire! What is that?
    No humping....." " " (to do with driving) ha!

    I have a feeling I'd be in really big trouble trying to drive there.
    I'm bad enough here.

    What beautiful pictures. I love hearing about your area. Very interesting.

    There was a little car at the swap meet and my husband said "I found you a car that would save lots of money on gas....but....the steering wheel is on the other side." He knows that would confuse the heck out of me.

    Thanks for sharing. I love your blog.
    Have a great Sunday!!!

  7. I had to laugh while reading your blog today! After spending 4+ years in Germany and time in and out of England, I can so relate to all of your comments. My funniest memory is being at RAF Mildenhall for a few days (thanks to a terrorist plot in London, I got stuck there!) -- I hadn't been in England before and it struck me funny to see the cars on the opposite side. But even funnier was to see this huge dog in the left hand seat turning left. I had gotten used to the American cars on base where the driver is still on the left hand side of the car. But too funny to see the dog driving! :) Had to change my mind around to think ENGLAND and right side drivers.

    Your picture of the lane reminds me of the movie "The Holiday" with Cameron Diaz. Loved that movie!!

    have a blessed rest of your weekend!

  8. I love reading your stories!!! It was so fun to go driving with you around your little village.