In more ways than one.
I cannot explain how much I loved jumping onto one of those this summer and whipping down the road (or up the hill) feeling the wind in my face. It has been so long since I’ve riden a bike, I’d forgotten how much I loved it!
Why it took me nearly a year, since the Boris bikes were put on the road to get a key, I simply can’t explain. I’m sure at first I was hesitant; bicyclist share the same space as buses. Initially the idea of having a bus barrelling up behind me, didn’t have me thrilled. Second, after nearly three years here, I still have no idea of what the majority of these street names are, nor do I know back routes or hidden passageways. And when I’m not in a rush, I’d rather travel on quieter, less congested roads.
But Burs had gotten a bike key, really early on. Making me a wee bit envious. Every now and again, I’d borrow his key and slowly became more confident in my cycling around London. And then thought we could have great date nights, cycling along the canal together.
So I signed up and got a key.
Luckily it eventually got warm here. A rarity in this beautiful city. Which let me enjoy my decision to get a key all the more. The hubs and I spent a great deal of August, jumping on bikes throughout the city and cycling home.
I cannot recommend joining such a scheme enough! If you’re lucky enough to have one in your city (New Yorker, jump on it when Bloomberg gets it all together,) you won’t regret it.
Once you get a taste of the open road, your system just cries out for more. Ok, yes, that’s a bit melodramatic but still true. We recently decided to join Zipcar – which is something I’ve been trying to get him to do for sometime.
Because I keep
complaining bring up the fact that I have’t seen enough of the UK, we’ve become members. If you’re asking ‘Why not see it all by train?’ That’s because getting anywhere by train (not tube, actual trains) is insanely expensive. But now, thanks to Zipcar (which it needs to be said, followed me here. I like to pretend that they were so torn up when I ended my New York membership because of my move to the UK, that they then and only then, devised the plan to buy out their UK equivalent. Yup, I’m full of myself sometimes.) Burs can finally show me a bit more of this land I now call home.
Our first trip was just last weekend to Dover Castle. And we’ve already decided what our next five trips will be: Ikea (because who doesn’t love a road trip there?), Windsor castle, Stonehenge, Bath, and Warwick castle.
With all this future planning of road travel, I’ve also decided to get a British driving license. Whenever I hit stateside, I’m always eager to find a way to get behind the wheel. I simple love driving. But am only, ever planning on getting behind the wheel to exit London, not head on over to Sainsbury’s down the lane.
Of course, I have to contend with the nuisances that appear within the British DMV (which is actually Drivers Standards Agency or DSA here). I’m currently studying for my Theory test (written) which then will lead to the Practical (driving). Here are a few funny things that I – an already experienced driver – has to decode into understandable speak:
-What are the differences between: a zebra, pelican, puffin and toucan crossing.** Or statements like “Use the handbrake so as not to dazzle the other drivers.” (I had a really good laugh with the whole dazzle statement. I couldn’t shake the image of me doing jazz hands at a stoplight.)
Then there’s talk of contraflow lanes and driving on the motorway versus the dual carriageway. Never you mind the fact that I’m still wrapping my head around the idea of driving on the left side of the road with a stick shift that is also on the left, while I’m right handed. It feels like I’m sixteen again and entering this adult world of driving.
Oh, here’s a fun fact: there are two different licenses here. There’s the automatic license and then there’s the manual license. If you get the manual then you can also drive an automatic. But if you get the automatic, you are not allowed to drive a manual. Unless you decide to get retested for said skill.
And yet, I can’t wait to get into the drivers seat of a car and head off onto a dual carriage motorway. If it exists, that is. I’m sure I’ll have loads more to say on the subject but for now know that rather then bussing it every where, I’ve now got the freedom of my own wheels.
**Yup, those are the names of the crossings. Just in case you’re wondering. This is a zebra:
Pelican ( Pedestrian Light Indicator Crossing):
Puffin (which looks just like a Pelican):
And a Toucan (which is that bikes and walking people cross together – at the same time):
Hope you’ve enjoyed this little lesson.