The Charm (and Hell) of English Roads

Roads in Cornwall (like much/most of England) are very small. You bump along with hedges poking in both sides of the car and suddenly have to slam on the brakes as a truck peels around the corner in front of you. Then, in a well-organized series of maneuvers, someone always pulls aside just enough for each person to pass and you continue to barrel along until this happens once more.

Again and again and again.

I don’t quite understand why all roads have the hedges-as-fences approach – in addition to creating the feeling that you’re trapped in a maze since you can’t see over it to place where you are, it also makes tucking over quite difficult. Is this just a more eco-friendly way of keeping sheep and other animals penned in? Or does it just allow the English to turn a blind eye to the constant near-misses that are happening?

MouseholeAt any rate, if you think that you’ll be fine once you arrive in a town or village think again. We stayed in an adorable fishing village called Mousehole with what must have been the narrowest streets of all time. It didn’t help that the only car we could rent was a Land Rover – perfect for plowing across streams (which we did actually do at one point) and down motorways, not so perfect for village streets that a Fiat would have trouble winding around. And so there we were one morning trying to get out of town when we came face to face with a giant delivery truck approaching, a dead-end road behind us, a line of cars to our left and the realization that a real-life game of Tetris was about to begin.

My dear Dad, bless him, did the best that he could. But the delivery truck wouldn’t budge, and a long cue of cars began to line up behind it. So I did the only thing I could think of – I jumped out and pleaded for help from the first car to our left.

“I’m very sorry, but there’s a giant truck coming and we don’t know what to do because we’re not from here!” I cried to the driver. He smiled in response and said “Oh, not from here? American, are you?” “No!” I replied, “Canadian”. “Even worse!” he said jokingly before hopping out of his car to see what the situation was.

Thanks to the kindness of that man, he helped direct my Dad into a corner so that the truck could pass, commenting that it was far too big to be in the town in the first place and reassuring us that the resulting traffic jam had not been our fault. And then he asked where we were trying to get to and guided us out of town.

So, kind sir, thanks for the helping hand, and reinforcing the notion that it’s always a good idea to ask for help when travelling!

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