01 March 2012

Is the UK ready for me doing this?

  
Given our interest in visiting some out of the way places and having a generally out of the way kind of time when we go to England in May, we decided to rent a car. I have driven all around France with no problems, but I have never attempted to drive on the wrong...I mean left side of the road before.

I have no problems with roundabouts, but can I do one this way?  I am thinking of renting extra air bags...if only that were possible.

So, look out my pedestrian friends of the sceptred isle, Toonces is going to be on the road.

13 comments:

  1. I found driving on the other side quite easy (there's something amazing in the way your brain will effortlessly make the flip). The narrower country roads and parking spaces were the tough part. But it will be worth it to get off the beaten path!

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  2. Lol. That is one of my biggest fears of traveling to the UK. The thought of *not* having a car available never occurs to me.

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  3. When we drove around Ireland several summers ago (with me as the navigator), this required my saying as we drove into the roundabout - "stay left, stay left!" and "it's ok you missed the exit, we can just go around again."

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  4. I think driving on the 'wrong' side isn't that hard because of the reversed position of the driver and the passenger in the car. It just feels 'right' to have the driver on the traffic side of the car, if that makes sense. And, of course, in traffic, you just do what everyone else is doing. My husband and I have driven in England many times and never had a problem, and you won't either. It's so nice to be able to explore off the beaten track and not have to stick to train or bus schedules. I'm envious of all those beautiful places you'll see, all the great beer (yeah English bitter!), and the nice people you'll meet. Have fun!

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  5. My husband has years of experience, and I appreciate having my personal chauffeur to take me wherever I need to be. I'm always reluctant to even attempt driving there--being left-handed, I have trouble enough with directional clarity.

    How comfortable are you with standard transmission (stick)? It's the norm for hire cars in UK. If you need automatic, make sure to specify. It costs more, or so I've been told. Not an issue for us.

    Roundabouts, especially the ones outside larger towns and cities are much, much larger than the one in the photo, which several lanes of traffic. Pay close attention to the signage!

    Before you go, purchase the AA 2012 map book for Britain (it's a large format paperback but travels well), and outline your routes ahead of time.

    A recommendation we've never actually followed it to get a learner's window placard (a large "L") for the back window, as a warning to other drivers--and justification of any mistakes you might make!

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  6. Oops I put a comment on the wrong post. I was begging you to come to the north of England... but put it in the Eeek post, see who is half asleep now! Ha

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  7. A sat nav would probably help especially on motorways where they'll specify lanes and exits. Not so good in the depths of the country though - last time I went to Hidcote the sat nav tried to take us through a field to get there.

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  8. I've only driven on the left, but my best advice is to simply look out of the weindow on the driver's side and give way to anything coming from that side, but if there's room that way go.

    Sat nav may help in the sities but not in the country - walking Briar we regularly bump into bewildered delivery drivers being told to go through places that are completely inaccessible.

    Good luck!

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  9. Laura: I hope you are right. I do worry about the narrow lanes. They always freak me out even from the passenger seat.

    Susan: I have spent about a year of my life in the UK and this will be the first time I try driving there.

    Ted: Always good to keep in mind that mistakes will happen, turns will be missed.

    Joan: Thanks for the encouraging words. I figure I am not the first one to try it, can't be too bad.

    Margaret: We are indeed paying more for an automatic and are renting it from Heathrow to make sure of selection. Good advice on the map book based on what others say here.

    Simon: With only 8 days, the Chelsea Flower Show and two gardens to see in the south, I think the furtherest north we will get is the Cotswolds. I love the north and even planning this trip I keep seeing things in the north I want to see. I guess that will have to be another trip.

    Hayley: Hidcote is actually one of the places we are going to.

    Fleurfisher: Sounds like GPS in Britain may not be all it should be. Kind of weird because it worked flawlessly in Provence, even better than it does in the US.

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  10. Just remember GIVE WAY TO YOUR RIGHT! That's all you need to know about roundabouts. A lot of people dither though - roundabout ditherers are the bane of my life. If the person on your right isn't moving even though it's their right of way and the road is clear, just go anyway, you'll be fine. Oh, and stay in the outside lane unless you're getting off at the final exit, in which case get on the inside. Easy peasy!

    I hope you'll have time to visit Kent? If you are coming out to see Sissinghurst then go the extra mile to the coast - you'd love Broadstairs and there is an amazing bookshop full of middlebrow favourites for cheap!

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  11. I will make sure to look both ways and be extra careful when you come over to our fair isle... ;-D

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  12. You'll be fine, everything about the roads will tell you which side to be on and the best thing is just to go with the flow and not try to over-think it. And yes, for roundabouts just give way to the right.

    Enterprise will do you an automatic car if you ask for it, but good call to book it up front.

    Narrow country roads look more alarming than they are - I say this as someone who lives in the country and has no ability to judge distance! Just slow down and if it's really narrow, pull over as far as you can and stop to let the other car go. Or they will do the same.

    Are you visiting anywhere near Oxford?

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  13. You'll be fine, everything about the roads will tell you which side to be on and the best thing is just to go with the flow and not try to over-think it. And yes, for roundabouts just give way to the right.

    Enterprise will do you an automatic car if you ask for it, but good call to book it up front.

    Narrow country roads look more alarming than they are - I say this as someone who lives in the country and has no ability to judge distance! Just slow down and if it's really narrow, pull over as far as you can and stop to let the other car go. Or they will do the same.

    Are you visiting anywhere near Oxford?

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