London Roads: 1, Me: 0

Man can navigate to the moon and back.

Good for them. Really – that’s great. There are many reasons why I’ll never be an astronaut, and one of them is I can not navigate. I’m going to do one of those annoying full stop phrases for emphasis here: I. Can. Not. Navigate.

As I mentioned, we’ve just returned home from a holiday. We decided to hire the car for one more day so we could go somewhere in London that isn’t easily accessible on public transport. We whittled it down to a few options, and for various reasons we decided on the RAF Museum in north London. Rah rah, chocks away, what what. (With apologies to anyone in the RAF.)

This was a mistake.

We packed two very excited children into the car, and we were off. My husband was driving, and I was to navigate. You might be wondering why I didn’t drive. I loved driving in Australia, and I always considered myself a good driver. Roads are wide and long. You have time to think between one intersection and the next. But I see cars squeeze through these tiny London streets and park within an milllimetre of the car next to them. Should I attempt that, I have no doubt I’ll get the car stuck and be trapped, attracting the eye of the Daily Mail who will call me a fat, daft immigrant “and who paid for that car anyway?” No thanks.

We started out OK. Sure, I might have sent us on a cute little detour or two, but no matter. Then things got bad. We found that intersections in London can have about a gazillion roads coming off them. Street signs are often only on one side of the street. The directory doesn’t have handy red dots where traffic lights are. A road might have a name, but it’s the road’s number that matters. Leaving my glasses at home doesn’t help either.

Curse you, A406 North Circular! You might be easy to enter, but that’s where all matters of ease, well, ease. A plague on both your houses, M4 Motorway and Church Road A504! You and your badly labelled lanes and general evilness.

Whenever my husband would ask which direction to go, I’d have to make something up.

“Really? Did you look at the map?”
“No… but Harrow sounds nice.”

My husband is a patient man. He would pull over, ask where we were and realise I couldn’t even tell him which page on the map we were on. I just couldn’t keep up.

Finally, he stopped the car and we had the same conversation again. Except this time I could feel that I was going to cry. The kids are in the back chanting “planes! planes!” and I’m in the front seat, dangerously close to having a tanty.

Happily, we were in a McDonalds car park. My husband suggested we all go inside, I told him he was nuts and started hissing, “Have you looked around? We’ll be stabbed… this is a brand new Volvo.” Suddenly the free upgrade from Ford Mondeo was life-threatening. Rolling his eyes, he stepped out of the car.

“Get back in! Have you never watched The Bill?”
“Do you want me to bring you some fries?”
“Ooh yes please. And a cheeseburger.”

We had been driving for over two hours. Where I grew up, I used to drive further than this for McDonalds, so it should have been a wonderfully nostalgic moment. It actually reminds me of a time when I was very young… Dad piled us into his car and drove all morning to McDonalds – something that happened, oh, once in every 500 years. When there, he put an Esky on the counter and said “50 Big Macs please.” Once they worked out yes we were serious, and yes we were taking away, we took our Esky full of Big Macs home. In case you ever wondered, Big Macs that have been defrosted in the microwave go really wet.

Now where was I. Ah yes, McDonalds. I’d eaten, so I was certainly calmer, but I admitted defeat and asked if we could go home. The kids were happy, they had their Happy Meal toys which made me anything but:

So we turned around and came home.

It had been over three hours and and we had not done anything.

To add to the insult, when we got home my UK drivers license had arrived. For all that driving I will so not be doing here.

How are your navigational skills? I think I’ll feel better if they are worse than mine.

It’s been a great surprise to find this blog has been nominated for a few MAD Award categories – Best New Blog, Best Writer (can we call this writing?) and Post of the Year. Thank you to those who nominated me. The blogs with the most nominations become finalists, and the prizes are fantastic. Thank you. X


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