Last Sunday my partner and I went to the beach for the first time this year. As usual, we took an abundance of reading material. My other half looked up and asked me what I was reading. Well I could have answered Don Quixote, Great Expectations or even the Beano, but I answered truthfully, if a bit naively that I was reading the Spanish Highway Code. She knows that she is with a man whose work is his mistress so I got the despairing look. “You’re joking” she said. “No just doing some research, I’d hoped you wouldn’t ask” I weakly replied and cloaked my anorak a bit further round me
Well I had to break off a few times, after all there is only so much detail the brain can take when surrounded by so many distractions, but I ploughed on through all 336 pages. I have to say, that some of it was fairly interesting and the book covers everything to do with driving including first aid, vehicle maintenance as well as some good pictures of a car using indicators to turn both left and right; I was surprised to see this section
I learned that the hard shoulder is called “arcen” and the whole width of the road is “calzada” whilst a lane is a “carrill”, well you never know when you might find this useful. Animals, mopeds and invalid carriages can use the hard shoulder all the time; makes sense I guess
Ever wondered what it means when you see arrows indicating various lanes with speed indicators in a blue circle? This is the minimum speed that you can drive at, forcing slower vehicle over to the right hand lane. Cyclists etc are granted at least 1.5 metres berth; if you can by them that is. When doing so, you should check your surroundings, indicate left, check again, indicate right and stay right. Mmm has anyone read this?
Have you got warning triangles in your car? Well 50 metres is the minimum that these should be deployed so that they are visible from 100 metres, so best to stop a passing motorist to check if he saw them clearly, just in case
Just a point of interest for those of you from Scotland; when approaching an unmanned level crossing, the sign displayed is called the cross of St. Andrew, thought you might like to know that
Drinking and driving
I don’t drink and drive, well not anymore, not because it spills into my lap, but when I was young and stupid (as opposed to being older with premature senility), I was banned for this offence, so imagine my surprise when I read the page on drink driving which is based on a person weighing 75 kilos, (just under 12 stones) therefore excluding most of us with pot bellies who can seemingly drink more. Apparently two double whiskeys will put you over the top as would a large bottle of wine, but a litre of beer puts you on the borderline; this must mean that Spanish beer is like the proverbial gnats water. Anyway I wouldn’t advise putting this to the test.
On two wheels
The section on motorcycling caught my attention. Only this week, I collected a bike from a customer to take it to the ITV station as part of the re-registration process. It was a small bike, well more like a moped really, so I felt overdressed with my full face helmet on, which I have habitually worn since my young and stupid days. Then, I was riding a bike and wearing a helmet with the strap undone as do most of the casual bikers in Spain when I came off and suffered a fractured skull (no wonder my mother despaired). Buzzing along with the visor up I had a lucky escape when an insect the size of a bird hit my chest, well that’s what it felt like, so down flashed the visor which had had a good splattering by the time I reached my destination. What was interesting though is that the Highway Code says there is no need to wear a helmet if a serous medical condition prevents it. I should say that a serious medical condition would not only discount wearing a helmet, but from getting anywhere near a motor vehicle whether two or four wheeled
A wonderful section explains by use of words and pictures that both the accelerator and brake are operated by the same foot and that applying pressure to the accelerator makes the car go faster and lifting the foot makes it slow down whilst hitting the brake hard should only be done in an emergency; well I suppose that we all have to learn sometime
What to wear
Whilst the favourite with expats that “you must not wear flip-flops whilst driving” is not stated as such, the code says that you should wear proper shoes that are light and flexible along with loose clothing, so now the sale of “Hush Puppies” is bound to go through the roof
Well, there is a short précis of what I found interesting, but then again, anyone with my obsession would find the Highway Code interesting. For anyone normal it’s probably sad. I am not alone, as when I googled “Spanish Highway Code” there were lots of forums asking where you could get a copy. This was a relief, I’m not alone! There are more inquisitive nuts out there than can be healthy; shall we set up a club? Maybe we could call it the Secret Code; after all we wouldn’t want to brag about it in case we are thought off as sad old buggers
The code is called “Manual De Circulacion Y Seguridad Vial” (manual of driving and road safety) and can be purchased from driving schools. I do not know, and in fact doubt if it is available in English, so maybe a fellow anorak could let me know
Meanwhile for my next tip to the beach, it is strictly the Costa Blanca News and Enid Blyton