The American brain has difficulties with certain things. Some of these difficulties are only brought to light when you spend some time in the UK. For example, because everyone drives on the left here, I still don’t know which direction to look when crossing roads if I don’t think about it first. This leads to many excitingly brief moments of panic as I stop myself from stepping directly in front of a moving vehicle. I expect I will soon be a UK-street-crossing pro in short order, but it hasn’t happened yet.

On the subject of traffic, there is a disturbing trend taking place here in Great Britain that I think I should inform you of. I’ll highlight the issue with a short story. Nearly all of the roads here are lined on both sides by very tall, very thick hedgerows. In addition, they also tend to be very windy. (That’s windy as in they go back and forth all over the place, not windy as in there is a lot of wind (the roads on top of hills are both!)) As a result, on those occasions that we do follow streets it’s sometimes a good idea to switch from walking on the right side, which gives the best view of oncoming traffic, to the left, especially when faced with a blind corner. This gives you a much greater chance of being seen by an oncoming driver – even if they don’t see you, you’re still in the opposite lane. Unfortunately, this does expose you to the traffic coming from the rear. The backpack, while I was carrying it, masked the sound of vehicles coming from behind me until they were almost on top of me. I tell you all this because of what happened as I was rounding a corner the other day. I had crossed to the left side so as to give myself and others a better view around a blind corner, and was just nearing the end of the curve when a car came suddenly and loudly hurtling by from behind me, giving me virtually no room and scaring the bejeesus out of me. I whipped my head around to give the driver a scornful stare and perhaps shake my fist, only to see that this car was being driven, recklessly no less, by a very large, very friendly looking golden retriever. My brain did a backflip as I tried to figure out what had just happened. My first thought, I believe, was to wonder how the dog had managed to turn the car to avoid me.

Remember when I said there are certain things that the American mind has trouble with here in Britain? Yeah, because everyone drives on the left here, all of the DRIVERS are on the right side of the car. Up to this point I still glance at the wrong side of the car when trying to make eye contact with the driver, which is why so many dogs are driving cars over here.

Anyway, I’ve updated the map showing today and yesterday’s progress (I tend to update the map even if I don’t have time to update the blog.) I’m in Liskeard now, making for either Launceston or Tavistock tomorrow. I’m still not sure yet, but I’m pretty used to operating without a plan at this point. 5 minutes left on my library computer use time, still have to find a place to stay for the night. Until next time.


2 Responses

  1. Hehee! I’d just like to caution you then to be very, very wary of the cars being driven by Dalmations (dogs that is, not the Croatians, so as not to offend some very close members of your own family, that is!). Word has it that they lack even the cognitive skills and brains of the rest of the species.

    Nice to hear you’re back on the trail. Be careful…and get some reflective tape, damn it!!! I am starting to sweat, err, “glisten”.

  2. Enjoyed the story, Alex! I hope the golden retriever didn’t take offense to your scornful stare! Then again, I don’t think a golden retriever could possibly take offense to ANYTHING.

    I hope your knee is handling the hike again.

    Have fun, and I hope you had a nice birthday on the trail!

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