This is probably a bad idea

6 Jan

But listen.  Driving in to school in the middle of winter as the sun is rising, especially after a break, is pretty rough.  Right?  I mean, I know, you have it worse, because where you live the sun never shines and you walk backwards uphill to school and your children collect scrap metal so they can buy themselves breakfast and fine fine fine it’s much worse for you but for other people, okay for me, getting the kids to school on dawnish winter mornings is rough.

And what cheers up a rough morning like taking photos while you’re driving down the road?*

Yes, fine, I’m not very bright.**

If you have a tendency to get a little dizzy, photos of cars on the wrong side of the road and street signs that look like unhelpful squiggles may disorient you.  So, sit down, or whatever.  And if you have recently been to the UK and driven on the wrong side of the road and had multiple close-calls or possibly hit a mirror or two while you were driving, you might experience a little PTSD on viewing these photos.  I’m not looking at my sister in law as I say this.  Not at all.  Move along.

Wake up and get going:

See that “30” painted in a circle on the road?  That’s the speed limit.  Can’t see it?  No?  Good luck, then.

Whee!  Here’s comes the ROUNDABOUT!  Don’t worry, except for that one time, I rarely crash in to things in roundabouts.  It all seems to be a game of follow-the-leader.  Get behind a nice assertive car, and follow them right through.

Another roundabout, and proof that I spent no time whatsoever focusing the camera.  Also, this blue car was a great leader through the roundabouts, so I wanted to keep up.  PS – this is ‘traffic’.

Feeling weird yet?  It’s probably even stranger that I am driving my American car, with thedriving wheel on the left side, while driving on the left side of the road — instead of right-side wheel for left-side driving.  Fortunately I’m great at spacial relationships.***

Woot!  8:34 and I’ve walked the youngest to her class and waved the oldest two in to the playground.  Also, my car is dusty.  So, that’s exciting.

Excitement’s not over — look at this ridiculous intersection.  You have plenty of time to look, as the red light lasts approximately 5.9 million minutes.

Traffic again.  And honestly, I don’t find any of those street signs helpful. Follow the leader.

Phew, a quieter street.  Don’t you love the ‘bike turn lane’ down there on the right?  The cyclists here have nerves of steel.

The bike painted on the street in front of the light?  So cyclists know where to collapse when they are hit by lorries.****

I love driving down this street each morning.  It has that Camelot-English feel I imagined we’d find here.  One day I’ll do a photo walking tour through this area — some great restaurants, shops, pubs …

And now I’m home safe, and hoping this was not the worst idea ever.  If I’m deported for reckless driving, I’ll let you know.

*- For the benefit of anyone who cares, let me reassure you that I did not take time away from driving to fiddle with the camera.  I held the camera on the wheel, held the wheel with both hands, and clicked along as I drove.  I think all the fuzzy photos prove my point.

**-I do, however, have a letter attesting to my sanity.^

***-Completely false

****-Very probably not true

^-Completely true

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21 Responses to “This is probably a bad idea”

  1. Ruth January 6, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

    OK, I need to lie down after that post. I’m feeling a little queasy.

    Seriously, I salute you for living in a sunless land. I couldn’t do it. I lived four years in England — how DID I survive?

    • Monique January 6, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

      Sunless? Don’t you see how *bright* it is in that last photo? 😉 I now consider any moment of any day when it is not actually pouring down rain to be ‘sunny’. Oh the adaptable human brain. Would love to adapt to your 11 hours of sunshine. =)

  2. Sarah January 6, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    “The cyclists here have nerves of steel.” – that they do! And “follow the leader” – you’ve figured it out. Just wait until that moment when you get to a nice big, busy roundabout with no one to follow and you breeze through it, then you realize YOU DID IT, without a leader, and didn’t even really give it a thought (til it was over, without incident, probably skillfully, actually) and you consider going back to do it again, hopefully by yourself again, because that really was WHEEEE! I have only driven on the wrong side of the road in my home country, which scares me. I think I’m meant to be HERE, not there. (I love that you took photos while driving – remind me to tell you about the day we walked home from school and found two police officers standing in our driveway! It had nothing to do with taking photos while driving – but I do that, too.)

    PS – I love this blog.

    PSS – I love you! What a highlight to my day you bring!

    • Monique January 6, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

      Woman, you have got some stories to tell!! I’ve got to get my big american mini-van on the road going in your direction one of these days. xo

  3. Tesni January 6, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    I loved this post! Hilarious reading your comments on each photo. I do agree that the is a stupid intersection!

    The follow the leader is a useful trick 🙂 I find it amusing when three cars arrive at a roundabout at the same time then no one knows who to give way to, until one car decides that it will take the plunge and move. Always chuckle to myself when I find myself in that situation, though I’m normally the car to move first.

    I had a roundabout question actually- I know you have a few in the states but not to the numbers we have them. (the Bristol ring road has about 13 of them! I always count them down when I drive it) . So if you don’t have many roundabouts, does that mean you are always stopping at cross roads? I think I’d dislike that. I rather like how roundabouts usually keep the traffic flowing fairly well.

    • Monique January 6, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

      I think it’s more that the US usually has intersections with just two roads crossing, rather than anywhere from one, two, three, four, five, etc, as I’ve found here! And what can you do when five roads meet, except make a roundabout? 😉 I don’t get the order in which people enter — is driver coming in from the major road has right of way, give way to the person on the right, or just … go? Well, big trucks always win, that I know.

      • Sarah January 7, 2012 at 11:09 am #

        Right of way to those on the right (of you, then of them, etc). But, coming straight at each other and one is turning right across the roundabout seems to have right of way, when logically, the person going straight across should have it.. BRAIN ANEURYSM! I still haven’t gotten it completely figured out, as you can see.

      • Monique January 7, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

        Yes, what the heck is going on with the turning-right-across-the-circle people getting right of way? People stop and wave me across all the time, but surely it would be faster if the straight-on person went first? And sugar save me if I turn left ahead of the person to my right who is going straight on — wow do they get mad. I should look it up in the driving code.

      • Tesni January 8, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

        Give way to your right is the rule. If there is a car waiting to your right, they have priority, but you can go as long as there is a space obviously.

      • Monique January 11, 2012 at 11:30 am #

        OK, excellent, now I can be more confident about the whole waving-people-across-first thing!

  4. Maribel Ibrahim January 6, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

    Thanks for the laughs Monique!

    BTW…. We are starting a campaign in the US to start schools later, so kids don’t have to be shuffled to school in the dark.
    If anyone is interested in more information, visit http://www.StartSchoolLater.net

    Regards,
    Maribel
    http://www.TheFrugalWriter.com

    • Monique January 6, 2012 at 10:23 pm #

      Worthy campaign Maribel, I hope you get results. HS starting at 7am is absurd, unhealthy, unsafe, you name it …

  5. Ayris January 6, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    So… you’re allowed to drive your US car there? I wouldn’t have imagined it would be street legal to drive one. Hmm.. Are you planning to get a British car? I can only guess how much harder it would be to drive on the left side of the road if you’ve still got your drivers seat on that side too….

    • Monique January 6, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

      I *love* driving my american car here. It feels familiar and comfortable. I think I’m at an advantage on narrow roads because I can see how close I can get to the edge of the road without hitting anything. And of course it entertains pedestrians to see a car moving on the road without anyone sitting where they expect to see a driver. There’s a program for converting US cars for driving in Britain, some changes to the lights, insert acronyms here, insert technical babble here, you see how much I paid attention but it all worked out in the end.

      • Sarah January 7, 2012 at 11:12 am #

        This post should have a “like” button. I second this. Amen, sister.

      • Tesni January 8, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

        I don’t know if you drive a manual or an automatic, but I’d imagine that switching the arm you change the gears in a manual would be very disorientating, so I can see why you’d want to keep in your US car. I can’t imagine changing gear with my right hand….

      • Monique January 11, 2012 at 11:29 am #

        I honestly broke into tears when I tried to drive our UK rental stick. I can handle the other side of the road, and I can handle the wheel on either side of the car, but I cannot handle stick with the left hand. I’m a much safer driver in my familiar US car. =)

  6. Zazzy January 10, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

    There’s a roundabout in Branson that absolutely drives me crazy. I suppose I’d get used to them if there were more of them around here. Or I’d get really good at finding alternate routes.

    “**-I do, however, have a letter attesting to my sanity.^”

    I had to get a brain scan a decade or so ago and the report came back that my brain was “perfectly normal.” I tried hard to get that in writing….

    • Monique January 11, 2012 at 11:17 am #

      Congratulations on your normal brain! Ha ha ha! Maybe the scan itself could be the evidence? Of course, passing around copies of your brain scan to show you’re normal might be self-defeating …

  7. Happy Homemaker UK February 3, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

    Such a great post! You brought your car from the US? Wow, I would think that would make it even more difficult to drive on the other side. What do you think?

    Thank you for joining Post Of The Month Club! It is great to have you there 😉

    • Monique February 4, 2012 at 10:54 am #

      Thanks! To be honest, the moment I got in to my minivan I breathed a huge sigh of relief … it felt like home. Yeah, I’m hopelessly American! Driving feels totally normal in my american car — my brain must be wired backwards.

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