Monday, October 14, 2013

Around and around....

Driving in England is... shall we say "interesting" for non-English drivers.  First, the roads are much narrower! so the oncoming traffic seems to be in my lap all of the time.  Second, there is no such thing as a shoulder: there are trees and bushes right up to the edge of most roads.  That means that if the oncoming vehicle is a truck, we both have to slow to 10mph or so to pass.  But those circumstances pale in difficulty to the roundabouts.  We have few roundabouts in the USA.  Those we have - of course - perambulate in the opposite direction. And, since there are so few, most drivers are uncertain and thus slower.  In England, it seems most intersections are roundabouts with exits at least at 3 o'clock, 9 o'clock, and 12 o'clock.  Often more and often not on the 3 hour marks.  As I approach a roundabout, the first thing to determine is whether our single lane is splitting into two lanes at the roundabout.  Usually, it is.  That means that if you are exiting at 9 o'clock (i.e, turning left) you get into the left lane and - after doing all of the following - turn left; if you are exiting at 12 o'clock or 3 o'clock you get in the right lane, enter the roundabout past the exit before yours, then turn on your left turn blinker, watch out, and enter the outside of the roundabout and your exit.  But the difficulties are not there.  As soon as you are in the proper lane, you have to simultaneously determine two different things at two different locations.  There are no stop signs in England.  There is a single line painted (often faintly) across an intersection which means "Yield" or a double line (also so painted) meaning "Stop".  At the same time I am looking ahead and down to see which line is present (very hard to see until you are right on them), I have to also look to the right and up to see the oncoming traffic to find a gap.  A hesitancy results in horn-blowing and cars behind me weaving to get around me in a mad rush to.... somewhere.  Whew!  And, in a half mile or so, it is time to do it again!

We did, however, successfully navigate a thousand miles around England.  Petrol (diesel or gasoline) is about US$7 per gallon, so it is not cheap to drive here.  But we had a great visit.  Recently, we went to Cambridge.  I have always had to say I went to the University of Georgia (not a bad distinction unless compared to "I went to Cambridge").  We took a boat ride on the River Cam and had a great guide.  The boats are like the boats in Venice.  Donna took and posted the best photos, but I took the best video.   Unfortunately, it has posted twice. I have not yet figured out how to fix that. 

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