Conwy - The Round-About Way

Trip Start May 30, 2012
Trip End Nov 07, 2012

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Wales,
Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Picking up our car was easier than we thought. We just showed the reservation number and drivers license and off we went. Our new wheels for the next nine days: a stylish, silver Kia Rio. Paul had given me some pointers on UK driving and he even typed out step by step travel instructions of the exits and road numbers for our journey to Conwy, Wales (cheers mate). But nothing will teach one how to drive in the UK better than just driving in the UK. So off we went to the car park to find our silver bullet. It was so nice to pack our stuff in a car instead of carry it on a bus with us. But now the real work begins. I haven't driven a car in over three months, and now I must find a way to get my dear wife and myself 278 miles from York to Conwy in a car that functions in a way that goes against every strand of muscle memory fibre I have, on roads and a road system that I have never seen before. Tell me again why did we rent a car? Ha ha it wasn't so bad. It did take some time to get used to but I didn't think it would get easier so quickly. Some things definitely stood out as being more awkward though. For me it wasn't the tight narrow roads that were the most awkward, it wasn't the round-abouts, or even driving on the opposite side of the road. The three most awkward things for me about driving in the UK in order of increasing awkwardness are:
3) Using my left hand to shift - my right hand knows where the gears are and I am so used to pulling the stick towards me to shift into first. We had a couple stalls coming out of York.
2) Hugging the right side of the lane instead of the left - in Canada, to keep the vehicle centered in the middle of the lane, the driver has to be closer to the left hand side of any particular lane. I have found out that I do this without thinking, it's muscle memory. But in the UK, the driver is on the right hand side of the car, and so, to keep the car centered in the middle of the lane, you have to be closer to the lines on your right. This feels weird for me and I have to constantly make an effort to hug the right side of the lane.
And...1) The signal and wiper blade switches are opposite - as I quickly found out driving out of the parking lot, I wanted to signal which way I was turning, so my left hand hit the switch to signal. Instead my wiper blades start going back and forth. Signalling is usually something you want to do pretty quickly, especially when you are making a quick decision. It is most annoying to have the wiper blades come on when you trying to quickly signal. Apparently not all cars in UK have the signal switch on the right, but our little Rio does, and I have to be quite on the ball to remember this tiny little detail.

Once we got on the motorway life was good, three lanes to use. Except as Jess pointed out, it always feels like we are on the outskirts of some city, we are never in the wide expanse between cities like back home. It's like a never ending Deerfoot Trail, with sign information constantly coming at you. The round-abouts are very efficient and fun to use as long as you know what exit to get off at. That's where a good navigator really comes in handy. Jess is doing a great job at navigating. It is Jess' job to quickly find the town or city that is written beside the road number. Like instead of putting the A371 East or West, the sign says A371 (Wells). So Jess has to quickly find if Wells is in the direction we want to go. I have a trait that I think I inherited from my mother that is rather annoying on road trips. My bladder seems to speed up when I'm nervous or anxious. No matter how many times I take a leak before we get into the car, my bladder still finds some liquid from somewhere to fill itself up. Jess says I'm like a puppy in this way. We were stuck in traffic on a major motorway, not going anywhere, and I had to go! It was building up for a while, and I think I would have been fine if there was no traffic jam, but there was. I pulled over in the hard shoulder, put the blinkers on and ran into the bushes just in time. It actually worked out pretty smooth, because traffic was going pretty slow. I don't know why I just told that story. We got into Conwy in one piece and found our hostel. We only had one night in Conwy, Wales, but it was worth the trip. Conwy has a medieval castle from the mid 1200's still in really good condition, with walled fortresses and towers extending from it going right to the sea. Anyone can go up onto the walls and towers and admire the city or sea or castle from them. The castle was really fun to go see. Once you are in the gate, you can go anywhere you want. Tight spiral stone staircases take you to the top of the huge towers, where you can walk along the balconies. Down the spiral staircases are a bunch of different doors leading to rooms throughout the many levels. One room had a massive fireplace with a video image of a fire burning there. It reminded me of the fire channel we have back home. Someone even pokes the fire every once in a while. But unlike the fireplace channel, this fire shows images of roasting food and someone chopping firewood every so often. There is also a really cool harbour and a sweet suspension bridge in Conwy. The steel suspension bridge goes right into the castle, obviously built way after the castle. Really easy to get good pictures with a bridge and castle! A brief storm came through on us right after we left the bridge. We got wet, but it wasn't long before the sun came out again. Long and eventful day we had today. We are going to sleep well tonight, that is if we do not have any snorers in our room. 

P.S. I am sorry to say, Jess has taken a commanding 26-21 lead in the crib matches. She is getting so lucky!


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Mutti & Father on

Well your driving blog gave me a good laugh, I would have loved to be a mouse in a corner of the car watching & listening. Glad you had no accidents & are still married. Ha! Ha!
Now son don't blame me for your unscheduled potty stops, but thanks for sharing.
Way to go Jess, kicking butt in crib, RyRy it's not all luck, maybe she is better skilled then you???? Miss you both alot, Love always

Auntie Karen on

Bob and I got a good chuckle from your driving stories. Now that should be something your mother worries about. Driving in England. Not even Bob is going to do that when we go. And a standard, seriously, are you crazy. You almost made me pee my pants.

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