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Monday, November 24, 2008

Driving in England a.k.a. Roundabouts and Give Ways

I should really preface this entire story by saying, my husband does not deal with change well. He is very set in his ways, gets frustrated easily, and has high expectations of himself. In other words, God forbid something not go according to plan. I am very go with the flow, I like a challenge, and I see most everything as a learning experience and it takes a lot for me to lose my temper. I am not saying that my way is better than his way of learning, but at least I don't punch inanimate objects when I get frustrated. Just sayin'.

We had been here about 5 days when we decided that not having a car was just not an option anymore. Sure we could walk around the base, but in order to get to D's house we had to call her or her husband to come pick us up and frankly it was getting exhausting for all parties involved. I hate having to depend on others, she was getting behind in her everyday activities, and we couldn't fit all members of both families into one car.

Finally on Thursday my husband, the kids and I walked our behinds down the the local base car rental office and paid entirely too much money to rent a shoe on wheels, I mean car. We rented a VW Polo, with an automatic transmission and UK specs. In other words it has its steering wheel on the right hand side of the car.

Now at this point I have been riding with D all over the area for days. I am pretty used to what it feels like in a UK spec'd car. The Man, well he had been at work for most of the week and then on Wed. he was struck down by the 24 hour stomach virus from hell. He was still not up to snuff on Thursday when we went to go rent the car, and had not had much time in a UK spec'd car or riding around learning the rules of the road. So what possessed me to let him be the first one to drive the car is still beyond me. I am not saying it was the worst decision ever made in the history of the earth, but it might be right up there on the list.

So there we are sitting in the parking lot of the rental company, armed with a map of the surrounding area outside of base, a map of the base, and a vague idea of where the base hotel is. We just need to get to the base hotel. Not hard, right? Yeah, that is what I thought. So wrong, so so very wrong. The Man inches out onto the road, left hand side. Good. We head down the road at a turtles pace and I am telling him the directions to get back to the hotel. Everything seems to be going fine.
Me- "Now we need to take the 2nd exit on the roundabout to get onto this road to head back to the hotel"
Him- *confused* "What? Do we need to go left, right or straight?"
By this time we are entering the roundabout and he takes the first exit to the left and we are heading off of the base into the English countryside. Wonderful. Just wonderful.
Him- "Damnit Kat, you didn't tell me which way to go!"
Me- "Ummm yeah I did, you just didn't listen buddy."
Him- "Oh great, now what do we do?"
Me- "Dude, just turn around."
Now we are heading down the road towards one of the towns near base, but I couldn't tell you which one, because the map of the local area...yeah it sucks. I get him to pull over onto a little road so that we can turn around. Then I realize that I have left my ID to get back on base in my purse which is in the trunk of the car...ya know, cause going off base wasn't exactly in the plan. He pulls to the side of the road, I hop out like we are doing a chinese fire drill and grab my purse out of the trunk.
Me-"Ok now go. Remember, pull out onto the LEFT hand side of the road."
Him- "I know that much."
Me- "Alright. I was just reminding you. I mean it isn't like you have had so much experience driving or riding around."
Him- "It doesn't help that the roads are only 3 feet wide."
Me-"They aren't 3 feet wide, it just feels like it."
We head back down the road, me clenching the door handle so tight my knuckles are turning white and praying we don't hit the little curbs on the side of the road and flip the car. Lucky to be alive, we make it back to the base.
Me- "Ok now when we get to the roundabout, just take the first exit. That should take us back towards the room."
On the way back we hit a four way stop intersection*. Now that is something my husband can deal with. This whole looking for cars coming at you, paying attention to turn signals and guessing where the car you are merging in front of is going thing. My husband, I don't know if he is gonna catch onto it really quickly. He has already tried to kill me roughly 4 times since he has been driving.
To quote my husband when we got back to the room a couple days later after yet another near miss at a roundabout where he tried to kill us all. "I love the feeling of almost dying everyday. It really makes you feel alive."
For the record the first time I drove here. It was dark, a Friday night, and I made it there without one near death experience and the kids were screaming and talking the whole way. I am not saying I am a better driver than him, but ya know, I didn't almost kill anyone.

*These are the only stop signs on base. Anywhere you would think there would be stop signs are roundabouts or give ways. Also, give way does not mean stop. It is basically a yield sign.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, that would be hard to get used to!

Reminds me of Griswold's Eurpean Vacation where Clark gets stuck in the roundabout and keeps saying, "Look kids-Big Ben".....Lol!

Sprite's Keeper said...

Memo to people moving to England. You should complete a driver's training course in Miami on the 836 first. Once you can travel the length without hitting anyone else, you are prepared to take on all foreign driving procedures.

Badass Geek said...

Holy crap.

I would have had a stroke and died from pure anxiety.

Anonymous said...

I think that sounds fun!

They put in a round-a-bout by our house about a year ago, and it has made people completely retarded. People who have been to our house multiple times, get lost now. Why? Because there is a CIRCLE IN THE ROAD!! WHAT THE FUCK AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THAT?! AAAAAAAH!!!!

(Brain aneurysm. Head exploding.)

It's pretty entertaining!

Unknown said...

Bwahahah. That sounds fun. You know...since I'm over here, safe, on the other side of the pond.

Anonymous said...

I don't drive really well under normal circumstances, I can't imagine driving on the wrong side of the road on purpose.

steenky bee said...

Oh dear. I would be a mess over there. Just a mess. Do me a favor. When you eat bangers and mash, be sure and send me a picture!

Jenny Grace said...

I'm pretty sure you get to be a better driver.

Anonymous said...

Having driven on both sides of the pond I have to agree that it takes a lot more skill to drive over here.

There is a roundabout at Clearwater, Florida and it gave me hours of entertainment watching you all drive round and round in total confusion.

Our cars may be small be they are a lot more economical on the gas as you insist on calling petrol and you can park them easily.

One last thing - please could you e-mail me your numberplate and colour of VW Golf so I can keep an eye out and pull over when I see you coming!

Just wait until you go back home and have to revert back!

for a different kind of girl said...

I'm not sure I'd ever be able to get used to that. A lot of the newer subdivisions where I live are building roundabouts now instead of four-way stops, and seriously, every time I know I am approaching one, I'm never sure what to do. Luckily, neither do most of the people on the road with me!

♥ Braja said...

Honey let me just correct one little detail: the steering wheel is on the *correct* side, the right side... bein' as how the UK did it first 'n all :) Glad you finally made it over. Hope you love it as much as I did!

Captain Dumbass said...

I think I'd just walk.

The Stiletto Mom said...

One of my good friends moved over here from London a few years ago. He was terrified of driving for months. So it goes both ways...they don't like it over here either!

You for sure win round one of driving though. ;)

Vodka Mom said...

nothing like a near death experience to brighten your day, I always say!

holy crap.

Anonymous said...

I'm with him! I'd have totally killed ya'll in the first 5 seconds of driving there! lol

I'm glad ya'll made it safe! :)

Melaina25 said...

Don't get me started on driving in the UK and how ridiculous it is. They don't even tell you what fast food places are at the exits!