Today marks my second driving adventure in a row without a near miss. I’m not exactly ready to declare the roads of NE Linconshire safe, but I think I’m starting to get the hang of it. Parking lot driving is still an issue. My instinct is to swerve right if I meet a car head on, that’s going to take some serious neuron restructuring to address, and I can barely find my lane when I’m going forward, let alone back into it, so I try to find a spot where I can pull through to avoid incident. I also can’t help but feel like I’m trying to park a go-kart in a shoebox and find myself giggling when I get out as if I’ve just finished my turn driving the bumper cars. I’m really hoping this stage passes quickly, it’s a little more than slightly embarrassing.
With that, we have begun the search for a second car. The trouble is, we don’t know half the brands, and of the brands we do know, the models are all completely different. We were following a Toyota that looked nice today and I tried to read the name of it. “Auris”, I strained to read. “Yaris?”, my husband asked. “Fat chance”, I said, completely resigned to the fact that there is not one car that I have ever even heard of here. I would just buy a big land yacht if it made any sense, but with the narrow roads and all the weaving required, I’d be taking out mirrors on parked cars in town and never negotiate the roundabouts. I’ve decided that what I am really looking for is a hummer about the size of a Fiat. When I popped in the Ford dealership, I asked the salesman what the safest car they had was. He looked at me quizzically and stated that all cars have to pass safety tests. The look on my face gave away my dream of locating a miniature tank and he quietly wrote the name of the safety rating website on the back of his business card for me. “Thank you”, I said with sigh and a grateful grin.
My husband is on his first “holiday” this week. This is the first break we’ve had in our 14 years together where we’ve had no set plans, no plane to catch, no bags to pack, no guests to host or feast to prepare. We barely know what to do with ourselves and it’s only Monday. Why are we not freaking out about every last second? Simply because there is more where that came from. It’s July and he’s still got another week to use later in the year plus bank holidays (basically the 7-9 standard US holidays). Who knows what we’ll get up to! It is so refreshing to feel like we’ve got the time to relax and do some fun stuff without the stress of knowing that if we screw this week up, there goes our big vacation for the year. Quite a few people even take a fortnight off and still don’t use up all their vacation time. I had no idea what a fortnight was, probably because I had no use for the word. People here use the term when they talk about the two weeks they are taking off to go on holiday…without losing their jobs in the process.
I miss all of our friends and family, but I have to say it’s nice to just hang out and see what comes. I did luck out and get us into the Forbidden Corner, one of the UK’s top family destinations, for tomorrow. It is a garden with lots of tunnels and mazes, designed by a man for his children and eventually opened up to the public. It’s quite a drive at 2 hours, but it’s mostly on the motorway. Thank God for that because my neck couldn’t take 2 hours on the “A” roads. The highways here are not simply a slower, more annoying version of the freeways as they are in the US–fast zones dotted with traffic lights and 30 mph zones through towns. In the UK, if you are not on the motorway, you are in for a LOT of roundabouts. I’m not talking about the pleasant little slow down, look both ways and make your way across type of intersection–here you are expected to take the bloody things as fast as your car will allow. (Oh, and they have the 30 mph zones, too, but the beauty of them is that there are traffic cameras that simply check your travel time through the town and calculate your average speed. You simply get a ticket in the mail when you get home if you go too fast. From what they tell me, of course.) When we visited England the first time, I recall thinking that we’d gotten some crazy taxi driver as I fought the centrifugal force to stay upright in the back seat on the ride from the airport–left, then right, around roundabout after roundabout, all just to keep going straight. Looking back it was a rather cushy ride. My neck muscles are starting to shape up, but sloshing about in the passenger seat is not how I would choose to spend four hours of our first holiday.
Bon no Voyage!