Letter from Dorset

20070617owh[1]How to be civil and survive

By Alan Tristram in Dorset

Driving along the winding rural lanes of England can be a challenge.

Often there isn’t room for another car to pass comfortably — let alone the occasional flock of Dorsetshire sheep.

In New Zealand, this could be a  recipe for disaster with the local hoons and  macho drivers who make it a point of honour never to back down, or back up. Here, though, an English sense of courtesy still miraculously survives.

Fellow drivers give way graciously. On the lanes around our base in Toller Porcorum two cars cannot pass comfortably, so one or the other has to pull over, or back up.

No problem. An innate courtesy is the rule of the road here.

It’s the same on the open road. Drivers at roundabouts, and on main roads, will usually make way and let you enter the stream of traffic,

Try this at the Basin Reserve in Wellington and you might end up dented, abused or shocked — might is usually right in NZ traffic.

Perhaps this is why New Zealand’s road fatalities, per head of population, are so much worse than Britain’s.

Other charming things can happen too. Today on Eggardon Hill, a chap in a very flash Audi pulled up suddenly opposite our car, after I had parked it rather untidily on the side of the lane.

I thought I might be in for a lecture until he leaned out the window and said:

‘Keep an eye out for an Adonis Blue…. they’re hatching round here now!’

Apparently, these butterflies are rare, but you’ll agree they’re worth driving a long way down winding country lanes to catch a sight of…