Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Car Experiments, Mark II

Today was an experiment in bunny-hopping. Or actually, avoiding bunny-hopping. And, for the most part, we did pretty well.

Brendan and I bought a car. A manual, or "stick shift", to be precise. The last time I actually drove a manual for any distance was at 17, so I have somewhat limited experience. Brendan had never driven a manual car. In the US, we always drove automatics, partly because almost all cars in the US are automatics, and partly because we preferred them. (Especially in the Fat Kiwi.) It was up to me to drive it home. I was a bit nervous. Would I forget how to do it? Would I stall at inopportune times? Would people honk at me?

We met outside the acres of car parks at IBM. The car seller was an Indian man who was switching projects and leaving the country. He showed us his Texan licence (he'd worked for IBM in Texas once), and we showed him our Californian ones. I looked at the car. It was clean and well looked-after. There was a "Baby on Board" sticker on the back. I wondered how long it had been on there. (Brendan ripped it off almost immediately.)

Apart from accidentally changing into 2nd at highway speeds and freaking out the cars behind us, we managed to get home with only 3 stalls (and one accidental red light run) in various parts of Romsey, and zero honking. The last part amazes me. If I stalled somewhere in the US, I can guarantee that at least 3 drivers behind me would be honking in a New York minute.

This is me right after I drove it home. Isn't it awesome that we live right by the red phone box?

Once we were safely home, Brendan's driver education began. We drove around a little 3-mile circuit around the country roads, while Brendan practiced stopping and starting and changing gears. He picked it up very quickly!

Next, we headed back into "town" to go shopping, with Brendan driving. We set the GPS to find Tesco in Eastleigh. We arrived at the Tesco, to find it was a dairy-sized "express". No problem, we'll find the next Tesco. Also an "express". Oh dear. Then we spotted a Lidl, which is something like Aldi's, supermarkets which only sell about 300 of the most commonly used products and foods but are generally very cheap. So as long as you don't need something specific, like baking powder, you're OK.

I drove on the way back. The GPS took us straight on the motor/freeway! Luckily we've had a lot of practice at freeway driving, but it's still a bit scary nonetheless.

Drivers seem to be mostly very considerate about giving right of way, which I guess is how they avoid having head-on collisions on the tiny, narrow, mostly one-laned roads. Our landlord, Mike, absolutely hoons along the roads here in his Mini. I felt quite carsick when I got out of his car this morning.

It was actually sunny for once, and the trees in autumnal colour are amazing.

Overall, we're incredibly pleased to finally have a car. It's been quite hard (and expensive in taxi/ bus costs) living 4 miles from town, and both of us felt quite isolated here without a car. To quote Brendan's favourite song of the moment, "I've got freedom...."


Edie said...

I'm so glad you found a car! I'm looking forward to seeing England through your blog now that you have transportion.

TaylorM said...

I like your sexy car pic! ;)

And that's very England, with the trees and the phone box. Looks like a charming place.