Do you remember the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? I remember it as the first time I ever saw a car with the steering wheel on the right (or the left if you’re facing the car, but you know what I mean). At the time I thought it was movie magic. Now I know that there is nothing magical about it.
I’ve spent the last 40 years driving on the right side of the road. Now much to my chagrin the right is WRONG. Driving here in England is like trying to write with my left hand – I can do it but the results aren’t all that good. So I am driving very S L O W L Y. I’ve garnered lots of attention with my careful driving and in a Peugeot® to boot! Actually I’ve only been honked at once but I’ve been stared at quite a bit whilst making my WIDE LEFT TURNS. Oh well, I’ll just keep a stiff upper lip (actually my bottom lip is numb from biting it).
Yesterday was my first official day of driving ‘the correct way’ as my English colleague Mark calls it. Turns out yesterday was also my first official driving incident as well. After leaving the village of Cricklade on my return to the hotel in Swindon I noticed the car driving roughly. Keep in mind it’s a Peugeot® so I wasn’t initially alarmed. But when the car began shaking violently I knew it wasn’t just poor French engineering. I had a tire blowout on the A419 Carriageway, which is a highway by U.S. standards but with no shoulder.
I prayed and then cursed (or maybe it was the other way around) but thankfully was able to get the car to a grassy shoulder. I wasn’t hurt, the car wasn’t damaged (except the left front tire which is shredded) and Avis had the emergency road service lorry there within an hour or so. Things could have been much worse.
So my day of sight-seeing and exploring Wiltshire came to an abrupt end. I did the ‘drive of shame’ back to the Blunsdon House Hotel with a tiny front tire on my rental car. Defeated, I parked the car and went to my room.
My Saturday adventure was more adventurous than I had hope. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang never got a flat tire on A419! All in all, it was still a beautiful day and perhaps I’ve gotten all my driving bad luck out-of-the-way, but I doubt it. The good news is that I was back out today with no incidents to report. I found my way to ASDA® (it’s the Super Wal-Mart® here in the U.K.) and back to the hotel with a little the help from the GPS – she has a really lovely British accent. So with my confidence restored, I’ll keep motoring on.
See you on the round-about!