Sunday, 26 February 2012

DRIVING A HIRE CAR - Part 2 ENGLAND

Let me state right at the beginning that for your enjoyment and SANITY the purchase of a sat-nav thingy is
 essential  !

Buy one at home and get used to using it so you know how to operate them and you will be soooo thankful you did.
Hire companies can hire one to you but the cost of the hire would easily pay for one and the most stressful part of driving is usually when you first set out in the car  - in busy traffic and on the wrong side of the road if you come from America or Europe.
We always organise our car over the internet but do not pay for it till we pick the car up. Having all the paperwork done when you arrive speeds things up considerably and the hire company always picks us up from Heathrow and takes us to their nearby office in their shuttle bus.
The same applies when you deliver the car back to the depot when you are flying home.
I always take a few photos of the car and especially the number plate just in case of an emergency like we forget where we've parked it ! or it is stolen because in an emergency you sometimes can't give a good description of the car and rarely can remember the number plate unless you are a numbers person.



Once again the size of the car can be crucial to your enjoyment as those narrow roads are everywhere and passing in tiny spaces is much easier in a small car.


Petrol ( gas ? to those of you from the USA) is hugely expensive in the UK but distances are relatively small so that on the whole it is not too punishing .
Diesel is cheaper I think but I'll leave that debate to the menfolk !

Once you are in the car and on the road your Tom Tom ( sat-nav thingy ) will tell you what lane you need to be in and what speed you can do .
No-one has ever explained the road signs you encounter along the side of the road with diagonal stripes and crosses to us and speed signs are not as common as they are here in Australia but if you are going too fast as you come into a village your Tom Tom will let you know.
At least one of you is not wrestling with a map and missing the scenery while to other is stressed out driving in a strange place without knowing where to turn next.

Believe me many marriages will be saved by using a Tom Tom !!!

We always reset "Home" whenever we change address.
Then you go out for the day,



 meander down quiet country lanes through pretty villages,



turning here and there at whim


 and when you have had enough and have absolutely no idea where you are,
you just hit "Home" and TomTom takes you home.
Brilliant !!
I think it is always important to have a road map as well as your Tom Tom as you need to check the route that has been chosen for you and modify it to suit yourself and on one occasion for us, the road ahead was totally blocked by a road accident which required us to take over and work out a way around it as the Tom Tom kept wanting to take us back to the blocked road.

Most of the time we travel the more scenic route along lesser roads but on occasion, the big motorways are not too bad, with TomTom telling you which lane to be in when an exit is needed.
Keep as far to the left as you can. Trucks are required by law to travel in this lane too but you can easily pass them in the next lane if necessary.


Stay out of the right hand lane if possible.


Cars in this lane travel very fast and can gain on you very quickly, often with complete disregard of the speed limit.....

and finally beware of white vans like these.


Their drivers drive like maniacs !!!

A final word:

There will be times out in the country when you are driving along a narrow country road with hedgerows pressing close to your car on both sides like this and very little vision ahead.


Be alert as you go.

There will be little curved indents in the roadside at regular intervals.
 If you meet a car coming towards you, one of you will have to reverse back to the closest of these little passing bays.
Be patient and polite , you're on holiday and not in a hurry.
Take your turn and acknowledge the other driver with a friendly wave.

In some towns and villages you will encounter roads like this:


or this


and you will learn very quickly to look out for a parking area early ( make sure you always have one and two pound coins in your wallet ) and set out to exlore on foot.
It is easier on the heart !!!!

Being able to get around on your own and explore this wonderful country at will is a fantastic experience with very few problems.
I'm sure you'll love it.

Helen

5 comments:

  1. I thought I'd leave a 'real' comment here! Marvelous post! And excellent advice. Thank you! I loved the images too - took me right back to the two trips I've made with my kids to the UK, and all the fun we had, on- and off-road.

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  2. G'day, Helsie...I popped in from Yorkie's blog...I hope you don't mind.

    I left a message for you there re Carol's blog. It is up and running again today. I, too, had difficulties with it yesterday. I was receiving a notice that the blog no longer existed...but the good new is...it still exists.

    I, too, bought my car online....I do a lot of online shopping...it sure beats having to battle with the madding crowds in the cities. I like the comfort of letting my fingers do the walking! :)

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  3. Oh wow, what lovely pictures from England! Great travel tips, too.
    I visited England years ago with a friend. We rode a hovercraft from France to Dover. :)
    Thank you for stopping by.
    Have a great week!

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  4. Thank you for making our country sound so lovely

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