Posts Tagged ‘kent’

When you’re giving way to oncoming traffic, there is an unwritten rule that is polite for all drivers and that is the thank you ‘wave.’

I was giving way to a loooong line of traffic at rush hour thisy morning – this is how nice I am – or how little of a hurry I’m in to get to work. The people behind me weren’t so sure but the feeling any we get for doing a good deed is quite pleasurable, and if someone doesn’t say thank you it makes you feel quite bitter (well it does me) – I will always wave ‘thank you’ to traffic letting me pass.

When letting this long queue go past of approximately 10 cars, all but but two said thank you, and in all different ways. Some flashed their headlights – so frustrating to be blinded though, some even gave me an entire palm of wave, some lifted a finger or two off the steering wheel, some bared all 4 fingers and some even nodded, but given all those little ways of saying thank you, you realise that no one was taught this during their driving lessons, this little habit has just caught on.

This isn’t something I’ve observed driving on the continent. Certainly not while pulling of a do-it-yourself international removal last month from France to England. If anything I’ve rarely been so angered by both traffic and lack of common courtesy. Given I was driving a giant of a Citroen van I could’ve quite easily thrown my weight around on the road.

Is this unwritten but widely observed driving practice just a sign of our general, good English manners?

The two moody cars this morning that refrained from saying thank you were,  shockingly both Hondas. One a new CR-V. Obviously enjoying the extra amount of condescending allowed by the driving position or had recently read my less-than-positive comments about their looks. I’ve seen increasing amounts of the new Honda CRV in Kent lately. Still not too keen on them and this morning’s experience has just added to that.

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I’m starting to wonder how automotive companies perceive the UK and our car-buying market. I was reading up on the dreaded “h word” and the various models now available to us. While there are more and more hybrids sneaking on to the market over here they all have a certain look about them.

mazda tribute

So my digging landed me on a list that came from the States, the best Top 10 Fuel Efficient SUVs and Crossovers for this year. It was topped by a car I’d never heard of – the new Mazda Tribute Hybrid. Apparently the new Tribute hybrid has the best mileage of the lot from this year’s crop of SUVs. Great, except that it’s not a car that Mazda think we’d want in the UK.

Why? We’re already quite into the hybrid thing, more and more manufacturers are throwing SUVs at us and MPVs have replaced the term “people carriers” as Toyota’s Previa and Renault’s Espace near elder-statesman like status in the market. So why don’t we get the Tribute?

Yeah, we’ve got a lot of congestion zone, higher tax things for owners of gas guzzlers but it doesn’t deter people. Isn’t the Range Rover a British car?! Not only that but this is a hybrid and shouldn’t fall prey to such regulations.

It can’t be the look of the thing, compared to a Prius I’d welcome being stuck behind the new Mazda Tribute on Kent motorways. Plus, it’s based on the Ford Maverick which went down pretty well here. It’s not exactly “wow” but it’s pretty rugged and tough looking, especially when compared to the usual crop of hybrids.

Same story as the Mustang I guess – any mass-production car over 2.5 litres is considered too big for us.

Whilst catching up on my weekend’s email and news I came across a review for the Mazda CX-9. As I was sat there reading it I couldn’t help thinking that I hadn’t seen much of this Mazda in Kent. Or anywhere before for that matter. There’s a reason for it too.

For some reason, despite the market that’s patently juicy for the likes of VW, Ford and even Porsche with their Cayenne, Mazda doesn’t let us have the CX-9 in the UK. Or Europe. Buy why??

cx-9

I really can’t undestand this. While I’m all in favour of more eco-friendly cars and consider such large vehicles as a display of money over taste, it strikes me as odd for a company that needs usually finds as many ways as possible to turn a penny not to market a car in the UK. Especially given how positive reviews of this car have been.

The standard car delivers about 273hp from a 3.7 litre V6 for just $30,000 – still less than £19k though it’s unlikely they’d price it so equally. All that power comes along with aircon, powered everything and keyless entry and the option for All-Wheel-Drive. Not only that but it looks pretty damned good too.

Given the prices it’s available at it, the fact that there is a market, Mazda seem to be in a hole finance wise and it’s got a lot of things going for it, why can’t we Brits stroll down to our nearest Mazda dealer and drop a deposit?

If somebody can actually tell me why we don’t get it, I’d love to kow.

Heading home last night I got followed all the down the motorway through Kent by a Honda. At the time I didn’t know what it was. It didn’t overtake me or get too close but it sat on my tail all the way and left at the same junction. Up until this point I was thinking that it looked pretty good, as SUVs go.

honda cr-vNot being all that aware of Honda’s new cars as I am with other brands, I hadn’t registered seeing it before. Then I saw the rest of it as I joined a different lane on the exit. It was CR-V, Honda’s “SUV with a difference.” Granted, it’s not the worst looking thing on the road and isn’t without charm, I was, frankly, dissapointed. From the front I think this car looks great. Side on: not so much.

It got me thinking, it can’t be the only car to suffer from that sympton. There’s the Focus Coupe-Cabriolet, looking at it front-quarter on it’s a good looking car but any other angle and it’s as attractive as an early Proton in my eyes.

The Mercedes SLK also falls in to this catergory for me. From the front it looks capable of being a real power-house but side on it looks a but mis-proportioned and stunted. As powerful as a chocolate wafer bar. It could be worse, the Fiat Multipa looks like dog’s dinner all they way round.

They can’t be the only 3, what other cars fall into this catergory?

You have to love the newspapers that people leave on trains. They’ve killed many a boring journey for me. Yesterday, for example, I found a paper in the refreshments carriage on the Eurostar which meant I could discover, while whizzing through Kent, that private schools are joining the list of those institutions untouched by the recession.

It seems that while many private schools across the country are upping their fees (Eaton by 2.7$, University College School Hampstead by 2.3% and Concord College by 6%), very few parents are taking their children out of the such schools. It looks like parents are more willing to “cut every other item of family expenditure before disrupting their offsprings’ education.”

Given the recent ‘revelation’ that those educated at a private school end up with better salaries and positions, it’s not too surprising that parents are so steadfast in their resolution to keep their children in these institutions. Is the idea that, if they walk out and into a well-paying role in another archaic instituion like the Home Office, their investment will be paid back?

It’s even more strange considering that the average fee has been lifted well and abouve the level of inflation. Do these instituions really have such a hold on parents so keen for their child to do well. With all the warnings about adjusting fees in line with the economy or expecting a backlash, it puzzles me how so many private education bodies are able to continue. It’s almost as if they’re taking advantage of parents’ desire for their child to get the best in life.

Perhaps it’s a class / wealth thing that I simply don’t understand. Either way it certainly got my mind wandering while supping overly hot coffee and waiting for my sandwhich to cool. Makes me think of the old cartoon of the surly teenager asking “if you’re rich enough to send me to a fancy private school, why do I have to attend?”

If your education came from a private school, you’re likely to earn more than those who attended state schools. While it’s not too shocking, it’s perhaps frustrating to see it in black and white, right?

People are reported to earn up to 30% more if they’ve been to a private school. Kent University and the london School of Economics have today confirmed this but believe that higher grades achieeved at private school are still crucial.

The study revealed that of the 30% pay gap, 20% was down to better exam grades and 10% down to family background. Researchers analysed data from 10,000 people that went to schools in the 1960s, ’70s and 80s.

According to the report, private schools “provide benefits for some individuals above and beyond those that accrue through qualifications and access to good universities.”

Now, I’m curious about this. Mainly because the survey took into account the salaries of those that attended school at least 20 years ago. This may mean that they’ve merely measured the last of the “old guard” and the results may not apply to those in school now or those of us that graduated univesities post 2000.

Does this mean that more people will consider sending their child to a private school? It’s the natural thing to want the best for one’s child and if the research points to private schools offering advantages, does that mean more will be looking to get their child in?

I, for one, thought such substantial levels of, well, snobbery, were a thing of the past. Perhaps I’m wrong and these figures do represent the last of the class-difference. Or is it still the case?

If you fancy it – read the whole story over at the BBC.