Saturday, April 14, 2007

More "Heart of England"

That's what this section of the country is called. You'll have to wait for the next download to see the pics of Bath itself. Here: More of Wardour Castle. The second pic is the grotto behind it. The limestone has all melted together now and you can see both stalagtites and exposed fossils (Matt was very amused by this evidence of evolution in a religious site).

Wardour from the outside.

More random houses. Note the thatched roofs. Others have slate tiles. The phone boxes date from when individual homes didn't have lines. They are still operational. The mail lorry is a tiny Vauxhall. We see these mini panel vans everywhere, made also by Citroen, Peugot, and Ford. The cars here are all small and extremely cute. Even the brands we are used to (Toyota, Mazda) provide completely different models.

Notes on driving in the UK:
1) It's very weird to see no driver on the left!
2) The Brits are better drivers than Americans. I think this is due to the skinny highway lanes (called motorway carriageways) and high speeds. Either you learn, or you go back to public transit.
3) There aren't any stop lights outside of large cities. There are also very few overpasses. Intersections of both local roads and highways are handled with roundabouts. Traffic keeps moving smoothly, since everyone knows how to merge (see 2).
4) There are no beater cars, since the annual inspection is so stringent. They practically take the car apart - tyres to roof - looking for cosmetic and functional flaws.
5) Gas is 4x as expensive as the US.
6) Because of the last two bits, people take very good care of their vehicles. They are polished, free of stickers, and clean inside.
7) There are lots of one-way roads, but we can't figure out how to tell them apart from the 2-ways. They don't bother with the big arrow sign. The roads are single-car width most of the time anyway. All painted lines are white. And you can't tell by the direction of the parked cars, because...
8) Parking is a careless free-for-all. You can point in either direction. You can be up on the curb, or smack in the middle of traffic. You can even park in the middle between lanes. Everyone just flows around it. Lovely demonstration of the Tao in action. :)

We are now in London and will fly home Monday from here. Love you all!


emma said...

Matt has the look of a man surveying his kingdom.
Love the pictures and can't wait till you get back so you can fill everyone in on all the stories.

bronchitikat said...

Actually there are parking rules here, like you're not supposed to park up on the pavement, or in the middle of the road. Simple really: consider other motorists, & pedestrians.

Trouble is so few people seem to these days. Specially considering the pedestrians. & as for cyclists!