What a gloomy day! And they are forcasting rain for every day in the near future (though the forcast is a joke here...'becoming wet in some areas with a little sun and a little cooler a bit on'). I was comparing the sunrise/sunset times for Edinburgh and Chicago. The sun rises here at 8:21am and sets at 3:43pm, giving us about 2 hours less of sunlight. Mind you, when the sun has risen here, it is still not very bright. It rises in the south-east and sets in the south-west. I realized a few weeks ago that if I am heading south at 'high' noon, the sun glares in my face making it difficult to manuver the already crazy traffic on the footpath. You do have us beat for cold, though. It is in the upper 40's here. Despite the gloom, Lady Grey (a delicious tea made by Twinings) continues to be a comfort to me (on days I am not working, when I cannot get my double tall, semi-skimmed, wet latte :) ).
ON THE ROAD
Here are a few more of the differences we have found.
1) Driving on the left side of the road. You probably already know all about this, but have you thought of what this means to you as a pedestrian? One must look the correct way before crossing the road. I quickly became accustomed to looking right, then left, as I spent a lot of time walking around. It took longer for Josh since he locks himself up in the library every day. :)
2) Dual/single carriageway. These are the names for the 4/2 lane highways.
3) Boot and bonnet. Trunk and hood. Our friends got a kick out of saying 'trunk' when we were putting our Costco purchases in their 'boot.' You will also see advertisements for 'boot sale,' which I guess would be like a flea market.
4) Parking on either side of the road. So you are driving south-bound, carefully looking for a parking space. You are thrilled to finally spot one, but then you notice the north-bound SUV waiting for the spot. Not willing to duke it out in your 1.5 ltr car, you move on to allow Mr. SUV to become the rightful owner of the coveted parking space. He does not even have to do a U-turn because it is ok to park in either direction. (everyone drives tiny cars and SUVs are only driven by the very wealthy because of taxes and gas prices). We discovered this road etiquette when we were about to park in a spot in Ireland, only to hear a car horn blaring at us. We found that it must have come from the car sitting on the other side of the road, but they couldn't be waiting for THIS spot, could they? Sure enough, we drove off and the other car pulled into the spot.
5) Double-decker busses. We have not had the chance to right up top yet.
6) No free transfers for public transportation. The cost is .80p or £1 depending on how far you are going, but don't hope for a transfer within 2 hours.
7) Emissions tests. Cars older than 3 years have to pay £80 (about $150) every year for an emissions test. No chance of getting one of those tickets good for 2 years because you passed so well.
8) Roundabouts. Hmmm...How to descibe these. They use these at intersections rather than stop signs or traffic lights, however, traffic lights are still used on city streets and at some large roundabouts. There is a large circle in the middle of the intersection with 3, 4, 5, however many exits. Cars drive clockwise on the roundabouts. As you approach, if there is no one coming on your right, you can countinue around and exit as you need. If the intersection is busy, you will need to wait until there is room for you. There are usually 2 lanes in the roundabout. The cars in the right lane will be continuing on the roundabout to another exit. The cars in the left lane will be exiting at the next road, so if the cars coming toward you are in the left lane, you can enter the roundabout because they will be exiting just before they approach you. I didn't expect that you would grasp all of that, but I wanted to show you how confusing it is to drive for the first time here! And try doing this while driving on the left side of the road, sitting in the right side of the car, shifting your gears with your left hand! It's a wonder there are not more accidents caused by tourists. :) If you are really determined to figure out how to handle a roundabout, here is a link giving a better description than mine: http://www.2pass.co.uk/roundabout.htm Here is another great link. This is for a "magic" roundabout. This one has mini-roundabouts within the large roundabout. I can't quite figure it out, but I figure it would be 'magic' to make it through! http://www.swindonweb.com/life/lifemagi0.htm
9) Exit on the left side of the road. The exit is just a ramp, sometimes with a roundabout at the end. Australia, having much British influence, drives the same way. When they decided on having their first 4 leaf clover, they hired an American to design it. The designer did not take into account that they normally exit to the left, making it a bit confusing for the moterists needing to exit to the right. It still worked out, though.