Well that’s different. I know I went on about driving in the UK and how rubbish that would be after seven months away, but there is no doubt that it is different. Leaving aside driving on the wrong side of the road (what were they thinking?), the British drivers do things differently. First they drive about fifteen percent faster than their continental counterparts. Driving on the M25 was akin to being sat on one ofthose Formula 1 arcade machines where life is shooting past you on the big screen as you try your best to make progress round the track. Instead of doing 70kph I found myself doing 52mph, which seemed – in Doris – to be mighty quick after a leisurely time on the French N Roads.
Second, there are lots of them. I know it’s just a question of space and the size of the population, but are there really twice as many people and half as much space here in Britain? Because that’s what it felt like. Zoom, zip, zoom. But the good thing is that at least you know what British drivers are going to do and they nearly always follow the rules. There’s never the case where two lanes fits three cars (or sometimes four in Naples). Nor do you keep an eye on drivers coming in from the side, waiting until they see the whites of your eyes and then pulling out in front of you (all over Italy). And the density of old people sat on three cushions, gripping the steering wheel like they were hanging onto the front rail of the rollercoaster, is small. In both France and Italy, old men with nagging wives driving Renault 4s and Mark 1 Pandas are common place – all of them driving at 20 kph.
So some good things about being back and some rubbish things, but certainly France wins the ‘ease of driving’ vote.
We spent two nights with Richard and Caroline (really lovely to see them and good runs round the big field out the back). Stopped en route to C’s sister Annie in Lambourn to see my brother, Kevin, and then parked outside Annie’s for the night. The highlight at R&C’s was descaling Doris’ hot water tank by replacing the water with vinegar and heating the whole lot up, and then flushing it all out. Hopefully it has worked….tea tastes funny now though.
Next stop is Bristol for Jen’s birthday. She found out about the surprise (asked us a direct question – and I am programmed by the authorities not to lie), but the effect was achieved. Bex and Steven look like they’re going to be coming down for the Sunday so the plan is a BBQ at Blaise Castle on Saturday for all her friends and a family get together at Jen’s place for her birthday on the Sunday. Should be good.
Back in the blogging mode then. But I think it likely that it will be after the weekend before I post again – although I will publish the remaining chapters of UH on Sunday.
Nice to speak to you again! Have a great weekend.