Yes, I DO have a valid Australian driver’s license, and no, I don’t drive in Australia. Hubby has a Subaru Forester, which is pretty awesome. But he’s working 4 weeks away and 1 week off, so the car doesn’t get much of an outing anymore. To keep it running, every other day I take it for a spin. That is, I reverse it out of the porch, down to the end of our driveway, and then I drive it forwards again back into the porch. It gets about 30 feet of action each time. Every 2 weeks I drive it to the car wash. By this I mean I reverse it halfway down our driveway, then get The Kid to give it a once over with a soapy sponge and a hose.
I first got my UK driver’s licence back in 1997, but as we lived in the Greater London area and the transport links were excellent, there was no need for me to buy a car or indeed to drive anywhere. If we needed to go anywhere far, we’d just hire a car. In 2007, however, when I moved to Ireland, I lived in the middle of nowhere, literally (it was on the border between County Roscommon and County Leitrim, and the Post Office “AnPost” never did clarify which County I was actually domiciled in), so a car became an essential means of transport. My first car was a little red Suzuki Alto, which was a bit rickety but got me from A to B, which was all I needed anyway. I gifted my Suzuki Alto to a friend when her old car went kaput, then my second car, a Peugeot 307 turned out to be a lemon despite its lush ruby red colouring, so I got another pre-loved car, the best yet – a Seat Ibiza. (All my cars have been red, and named Scarlett, Ruby and Cherry respectively).
Of course I was nervous to begin with, as I’d not driven for 10 years. But, luckily for me, living in the sticks had its advantages, in that traffic was scarce i.e not many idiots on the road to scare me. So, as my confidence grew, I started to drive further and further afield, and soon I was daring enough for day trips to Longford, Sligo, Athlone, Galway and even Dublin, more than 2 hours’ drive away. I even happily skipped the border into Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, for shopping trips – a great day out, that.
I’m now in Western Australia nearly 4 years, and I have yet to drive on its roads. The reason being that most West Australians think they know how to drive, when in actual fact they haven’t a clue. No idea of merging, parking, reversing, indicating or how to use traffic lights or roundabouts correctly. As a cyclist and pedestrian, I’ve gotten used to near misses every day. It seems like when you’re NOT in a car, you become invisible to motorists. You’d think that if there was a cyclist on the road ahead of you, and they were going straight ahead while you wanted to turn left, that you’d pull in behind the cyclist and make your turn left…sadly, that is NOT the case with West Australian drivers. They will make it their gleeful objective to race ahead of you and pull over to the left IN FRONT of you, without any indication, of course. And sometimes with a blaring horn to startle you, so you nearly fall off your bike. This happens to me on a daily basis. It must be a Sand Groper thing.
I’m glad I’m not one of those Mothers who think that they have to drive a huge 4WD for the school run each morning, so their little darlings can get to school safely. And so that they can happily run over smaller vehicles, children and pedestrians without even noticing. The Kid cycles himself to and from school each day, and next year, when he starts at a private school 10 km away, he’ll be taking the public transport. Petrol is expensive enough, why add to the weekly household bill?
The other thing about driving in Australia, their rules are just so weird. In the UK, where you drive on the left, you’d keep to the left lane unless overtaking. (In US-influenced countries, substitute left for right). If you wanted to turn right, the road system would be laid out with either a roundabout, or turn-off where you could make your turn safely. Not so with Australian rules (or motorists’ interpretation of it anyway)…here it appears to be “Pick a lane, any lane, and stick to it”. And “If you suddenly decide to turn right and you are in the left lane, simply change lanes without indicating, the driver behind you and in the other lane will pull back, no drama”. And “It is perfectly acceptable to zig-zag through traffic using both lanes to overtake”. Awesome, NOT!
Speaking about the “Keep Left Unless Overtaking” rule, which is prevalent in most European countries and even applies to the use of escalators at railway and underground stations…again, West Australians are a law unto themselves. It makes sense, does it not, that if you’re on the escalator and lazy enough to stand there and let the machinery take you up or down, that you’d keep to the left and let someone who’s actually WALKING up/down it, use the right hand side. It would create a flow of traffic, and make pedestrian access to parts of the station easier. But no, here in Western Australia, again it’s “Pick a lane, any lane, and stick to it”…so you get rush hour and some darn idiots hogging the right side of the escalators, which means everyone now has no choice but to stand on the slow ride upwards or downwards, and meanwhile, hordes of commuters keep piling up at the start of the escalators. Which is why Rush Hour is so bad in WA.
Anyway, hubby’s car has a slow leak in its left rear tyre. And today it was looking decidedly flatter than the other tyres. Oh dear…what’s a girl to do, especially one who doesn’t want to drive it to the service station to pump it up? Oh, I know…let’s see if that funky portable battery charger/tyre inflator machine I had in Ireland still works, and I’ll pump up the tyre right here at home.
Does it still work after more than 2 years in storage? Of course not. Darn! Can’t get any life out of the damned thing. Oh well, one for the dump.
Let’s test out my theory that a car tyre is just an extra large bicycle tyre. And let’s pump it up using my bicycle pump.
Did it work? Hell, yeah! Only, it took about 5 minutes of continuous pumping to get it up to where I needed it to be, and now my arms are aching from their unplanned workout. But YES, you CAN pump up your car’s tyres using a standard bicycle pump.
Just saved myself a traumatic drive to the service station, I did.