Driving in England

Perhaps I'm biased (yes, I am very biased), but driving in England is a very harrowing ordeal. Ok, maybe that should just describe my first driving experience in the UK. Well, really, that probably only counts for a quarter of that experience. I'll recount the taking of my driving-in-the-UK innocence.

We went from Manchester, England to Helensburgh, Scotland (a drive that takes about the same amount of time it takes to get from Houston to Dallas) for our trip to The Open--The British Open to the Americans who acknowledge the existence of multiple "Opens". I had the second shift. I stalled the car before we ever got out of the parking lot. Apparently, 2 months of not driving makes me forget about clutches and their necessity in a manual transmission. Once I got the hang of the clutch, I reached over my left shoulder for the seat belt only to find thin air. Things were not looking great, but they got much better.

The motorway was a cinch! I even passed a car in the first 5 minutes. I was told that this was excellent and much better than Gavin had done his first time. I'm sure that was just a way to make me feel better. But then I passed many more cars, on the right!! Passing on the left is a no-no. We made it to Helenburgh with no incident. Gavin took over the parking, because parallel parking just isn't my thing.

Skip two days ahead.

We were driving back from Helensburgh to Manchester via Yanwath. I drove the second half of this route as well. We stopped in Yanwath for a rather excellent lunch at a gastropub called The Gate Inn. If you're in Yanwath, go. It's well worth it. Anyway, back to horrible driving. Gavin had some beers, so I was forced to drive. It was the plan in the first place, but once he had the beer, I didn't have an out.

I wanted to do something touristy on the way back, so we decided to drive through the Lake District. Actually, it was partially my idea. I should ALWAYS keep my mouth shut. (I never take my own advice, unfortunately). If you were to ask me, "Laura, what does the Lake District look like?" I would reply, "Well, I wouldn't know. I assume that it looks like black asphault, stone walls, cars coming toward you, cars talegating you, and sharps drops." Then you might say, "But, I always heard the Lake District was beautiful." I would reply, "So have I. I'll have to visit there sometime when I'm not driving"

Seriously, whoever thought it was a good idea to make 5" wide roads that are expected to be roomy enough for cars on both sides of the road going at least 45 mph was a moron. Or maybe, they were just smoking something really really good. (Note: I do realize that the roads were most likely just paved over versions of cart tracks.) Needless to say, I almost hit several stone walls trying not to hit oncoming traffic while trying to drive fast enough not to get the back bumper ground off by the car sitting about 2" from my bumper.

When your favorite road in the Lake District turns out to be the B road that is literally wide enough for 1.5 cars and has spots where it's just wide enough for one car to stop so the other car can pass, shake hands with the other driver, and keep going, you know something is wrong.

After that, the motorway and driving through Manchester was a piece of cake. Getting out of the car after the drive, not so much. My muscles were so tense from the drive, I could hardly walk. Let's just say that it'll be a cold day in Hell before I drive in the UK again...at least on roads like that! Most likely, however, in 2 months I'll have another post about how horrible my second driving experience was.