Posted by: anglopole | September 9, 2008

Driving relaxes me – or does it?

I spend a large chunk of my time on the road here and I love driving, especially when I’m on my own. I turn my motor into a music shrine then and try to chill…. The word ‘try’ would have to be highlighted here, though, as most often the driving experience in England is far from relaxing. The expression ‘to drive somebody crazy’ does make perfect sense. First of all you try to drive out of your estate, which should be pretty much straightforward. All too often it is neither straight, nor forward as one half of each street here is usually a parking place for many residents, leaving the other half as a narrow survival lane. The hurrying drivers are then forced to often pull over and reverse to let the car coming from the opposite end pass (frequently the lawn or pavement on the side are the only refuge for the courteous driver to land his machine on!)…. It does happen to me and especially at those times when I really need to be somewhere, like now…. Even the main roads are often more of a training track for people practising extreme driving – a very sophisticated kind of slalom…. with parked cars functioning as cones you need to skillfully omit, hoping to finally get to your destination! If you think this is the only obstacle you’d face on the roads in the UK, brace yourself for more excitement! 😉

Never and nowhere in my entire life have I seen so many old people driving as I have here in the UK. If someone said that the English roads are getting old, you could take it as true on a few levels and all of them quite literal! It is only natural to mention that as one’s blood slows down in their veins so does their driving of any vehicle (perhaps except the mobility scooters in supermarkets – the speed limits do not apply there)! The road signs setting the appropriate speed limit for a particular area are everywhere to be seen here. However, you are likely to drive 10 m/h in a 30 mile zone as the likelihood of getting stuck behind some slow coach driven by a nice grandma or gandpa is very high (I wish the same probability was applicable in lotteries!). Not only do they drive slowly but they stop at every tiny roundabout (btw. driving through multiple roundabouts is another thrill!) and pause as if thinking which exit to take was the main pastime of the day! 😉 Just when you finally manage to overtake the old school driver, you get a very frustrating reminder you are in a rural part of the country… here comes a tractor or a huge scary combine harvester…. Some of them are equipped with rotating flash lights as if an excuse for their daring into the roads to a great annoyance of already badly infuriated drivers!

Oh, well, in the nearest longer straight part of the road you step on it and overtake again to your great relief, only to see you’re entering the hated 30 mile zone with bumps, humps and electronic boards reminding you to KILL YOUR speed (and this one is already dead). 😦  Other road attractions are, of course, cyclists that hardly ever wear any reflective clothing so you tend to see them at the last moment (they probably are adrenaline junkies…) and horse riders that love waving at all the drivers, smiling lovely as if enjoying looking down on the traffic being put to a halt by their presence!

By the time you reach your destination, you’re about ready for a break, especially from the constant pressing of your car’s breaks…

Parking is another challenge to overcome, from remembering to have some change, finding a spot, spotting the ticket machine (which is not as obvious as it may seem) to making sure you display the precious ticket (remember: pay AND display!).

If you are into sports cars you better think twice before buying one to drive in the UK – you are not likely to use its potential much here, even in the three lane motorways! However frustrated you end up to be as a driver, you will find no consolation in the English public transport, though. Yet, that’s a story for another time.

Well, I haven’t lost the tremendous drive for driving but could do without it driving me mad like this and all the time! 🙂



  1. Old people driving? You ain’t seen nothing in the UK! Try Florida. (I shudder at the thought.)



  2. Florida, you’re saying, eh?! Nah, crocodiles, sharks, hurricanes AND old folks driving – I’ll pass, thanks! 😉


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