No, I'm not pregnant...we got a car!!!!!
After the heinous three hour drive down from Manchester back in September, I was not excited to get behind the wheel again, but thankfully Elaine convinced me that it would be a good idea to get comfortable driving in the UK. Right she was, and I've been thinking about a set of wheels since she and Dad left last month. We've had a few possibilities, but they fell through, and I was getting impatient. I also didn't want to have to take tons of public transportation to go and see a bunch of vehicles when one was pretty much as good as the last. So I just picked one and bought it. So far so good.
So cars over here are suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuper cheap, so we had a pretty good selection of vehicles under £500, which is what we were looking for (something cheap that we can tool around in for the next year and then sell or dump without losing a ton of cash). Our priority: It has windows in the back seat that roll down. Poor Nugget hasn't had a car she could stick her head out of since our first year on Vinalhaven when we got the Element, so I really wanted one where she could feel the breeze of the open road. The one we picked is a Vauxhall Astra...not really sure what the American equivalent is...maybe a Chevy of some sort? It's the same kind of car we had when D & E were here, but obviously quite a bit older.
As I'm the only one who's done the driving in the UK til today, it was pretty comfortable driving back from Bristol (where the car was) to Bath today. It was pretty much a straight shot down the A4, and I got to stop and get petrol (AKA gas), which made me feel very much like a car owner again. It feels almost natural to be driving on the left hand side of the road, and I'm getting much more familiar with shifting with my left hand. I'm even getting more comfortable with driving with cars on both sides of the road, and only a narrow passage through which two-way traffic is supposed to proceed. The one thing I can't seem to shake is the inclination to get in on the left hand side of the car. I was at the grocery store earlier and was hurrying to get into my car so another one could have my parking space when I realized that I'd gotten in on the passenger side. Whoops. I had to hop over before making a quick getaway.
Chad had his first try behind the wheel this evening. I drove us up to the cemetery at the top of our road, and he drove around the lanes there for a little while before hitting the open road. We took the main road that leads to the university, and it was a pretty quiet time of night, so we didn't run into much traffic. There are about five roundabouts on the way, so he got some good practice on those. I think they're a really good idea as an alternative to four-way stops. No one's ever sitting there wondering who's supposed to go first, and for the most part, traffic continues on with nary a glitch. It was strange to be in the passengers' seat, and I must say I was doing a significant amount of hand-wringing, but I needn't have worried. Chad did a stellar job, and seems to have a much better sense of spacial relationship than I do (or at least he wasn't making the noises I usually do when I have to go through one of the aforementioned narrow corridors with cars on one side of the road and moving traffic on the other). Nugget very much enjoyed sticking her head out the window as we cruised along.
I've made Chad promise that once he's done with the papers he's working on now, we'll take the car on her virgin voyage to Golden Cap. We joined the National Trust just last evening, and I want to see absolutely everything we can in this next year. I am so. excited. to have a car.
Poop poop, the open road!