Posted by / Category London /

I am a city girl. This means that I don’t really like driving –I usually take the Tube. However, due to the location of secondary schools in London, I now have to drive twice a day all the way to Hammersmith. I hope that it will get better as I am getting to know other Mums and we will share the school run, but it will take time. This means that I am spending at least two hours a day in my car. Not nice.

Anyone who has ever lived in London will understand why I don’t want my 11-year-old daughter to take the District Line on her own. For starters, as soon as it starts raining it is suspended. We might consider the Piccadilly line in a few months –much more reliable- but we are not there yet.
To make matters even worse, we have changed car –something to do with hubby changing job. So, before you judge me to harshly, let me recap the facts:
       I am used to driving small cars, manual gearboxes, on the right (i.e. the French way);
       The car I used to drive in London was automatic;
       Now I have to drive a HUGE Chelsea tractor, manual gearbox  (but I need to change the gears with my left hand), on the left.
No wonder I am confused. I could probably start an international driving school just based on my experiences over the last years (well, we would of course skip the parking bit –I can’t park unless the street is empty).
Apart from the fact that I feel like I have been promoted to being a tank driver, I am struggling to understand why the street are so narrow in London and the cars so wide.
So, in short, if you see a slow car followed by a line of vehicles, it is probably me. You see, you are never too careful. I am monitoring the school run by the number of honking drivers I get. Only 3 yesterday, I am getting better. I am amazed by the number of accidents the drivers have to prevent from happening in London, on a daily basis. Cyclists are ignoring red lights over here. They overtake you on all sides, even on the left when you have clearly indicated that you actually were turning left. And the white van with a copy of the Sun behind the windscreen…Well, be careful: they can do a U-turn without any warning and they don’t hear anything because they have their iPod on.
I thought I was not confident enough behind the wheel, but after what happened yesterday I think I am fine. Let me explain: a lorry driver started honking because he had seen some leg and apparently he was finding it hilarious (maybe he doesn’t get it at home?). I went ballistic and put the car in front of him, started driving really slowly to annoy him, and at a green light I prevented him from moving ahead, and left in time for the light to turn red and stop him a bit longer.
I know it is bad but it felt good.
Beware, all of you: DO NOT MESS WITH A YUMMY MUMMY.
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London
  • I don’t envy you – driving in London is a nightmare! I hope it gets easier with more practice!

  • I drive a small car. Which means when I have to drive the Trailblazer I used to love to drive, I feel overwhelmed. I feel your emotion on this one. And bravo to putting the lorry driver in his place. A cement truck driver tried to pick me up once (with a load of cement running). I was waiting on my ride to work. What a jerk he was. 😀

  • I could never drive in London. One summer I drove about 2000 miles around England, Wales, and Scotland, and I still have nightmares about driving on the wrong side of the road.

  • Jan

    I have a difficult time driving in any city, I’m a country girl. Bravo to you for mastering it.

  • Naughty Yummy Mummy!

    I feel for you having to waste two precious hours every day doing something you hate and that adds nothing to your life, but rather, probably takes years off it. But, as you say, you can’t leave them in the uncaring hands of the District Line.

    I’ve driven in London and the traffic is hideous and rude. Once, when I had an appointment and got stuck in afternoon traffic, I went at it a-la-Mexicana and plowed my way through, and both sides opened like the Red Sea. I’d never try that again and these days, driving is at the top of my “What I Hate” list. As soon as I can, I’m moving to an area where I can do without a car. Maybe, someday, you can do without as well.

  • Excellent! I do the same when someone annoys me..naughty us! At least I can now admit it in public. I love driving in London..I have to keep my wits about me but with the kids screaming and moaning, it’s nigh on impossible…but what’s with those crazy cycle lanes? Not nearly big enough and suddenly disappearing into nothing. I wouldn’t get onto one of Boris’s bikes if you paid me…do they take out insurance when they hire them?

  • Yikes, you are one mean Yumma Mumma!! Seriously, my heart goes out to you – the British school run is a nightmare and in London it is ten times worse. I don’t know how you – and all my friends in West London – do it, I really don’t. Is there a school minibus, and if not, is it possible to organise one?

  • I’m not too ecstatic about driving too, and all the more with the conditions you had describe above…Yikes! And yes, everyone should know better than to mess with you, Yummy Mummy! ;-))

  • I feel your pain. I drive 45 minutes everyday to and from work. I hate it. There is a lot of what we call road rage here in America so its not very wise to mess with people you never know what kind of nutty person may be in the other car!

  • How I understand you Muriel! I try to figure out how I will manage a car when I will have children to drive to crèche or school!!
    But in the middle of London, I can’t figure out how you do it – oh yes you are a “Super Yummy Mummy” I think!

  • I think you worry too much – most of the yummy mummies in West London seem to have no idea how to operate their Chelsea Tractors either! I am a serious car girl and love driving but I sold my car as soon as I moved down here…London driving is no fun at all, and I commend anyone who braves it.

  • Holy mackerel! I would never survive with a big car in manual on a different side of the road. =P I can barely park either, but all those other challenges would make me even more nervous. Kudos to you, friend! =)

  • Oh my gosh, I drive stick, but there is no way I could do it with my left hand AND on the opposite side of the road!

  • Oh Muriel, I never ever thought that you would do something like I would (I remember driving slowly in front of idiots also,) I learned to drive on a stretch van (a very long van) so got used to it early, but always parked where there was lots of room and then walked. My brain would never get used to driving on the wrong side of the road, so I commend you – I also commend you for the sacrifice you are making each day for your daughters, it’s no small thing to drive 2 hours just for school. Yes, you are indeed a yummy mummy!

  • @Eliza_do_lots – it doesn’t get any easier but I think that I am getting more relaxed…If someone wants to honk, I don’t mind…

  • @ cath – Thanks for reassuring me – I am glad I am not the only one. You see, I hate road rage and what goes with it. But a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do, right?

  • @Thom – I am really glad I am not the only one. ..

  • @ jan – Hello country girl! The thing is, as a city girl, I am used to the Tube!

  • @ Penelope – If only I could do without a car…that said, I have a plan: when I win the lottery, I hire a chauffeur. With a nice uniform.

  • @ Deborah – the school bus doesn’t go where we live. I need to give more thought on a school bus. Worth trying to organise it!

  • @Joy – For the records, I am usually a very peaceful person.

  • @Mummyatthe schoolgate – We need to talk. How can you like driving in London. As for cycle lanes, it is a nightmare. Someone will also have to explain to me why cyclists ride as if there is no tomorrow. Some even take the Hammersmith flyover (4 lanes for cars!). Seriously.

  • @Jennifer – OMG ! A gun in your car!!! scary. I wonder how you manage if you can never show that you are annoyed.

  • @MarieHarmony – Thanks – I think I deserve a medal too. OK, off to have some tiramisu now.

  • @AccidentalLondoner – You are right, I am a serial worrier…I am getting better at it. ow, when someone honks I don’t care. I don’t show a finger yet (that’s what you would do in France, in the region I come from).

  • Lol! Don’t mess with a yummy mummy indeed!

    I just started driving regularly and have to deal with such tough people on the road… apparently, the word around is that women are not good drivers… and I get to hear the comment every now and then! But yes, will try that technique soon!