Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Driving - Me?

In June I passed my driving test.  At 36 this was a big achievement for me - I'd started learning to drive in the Falkland Islands in our 4x4 on gravel roads, but it was only the move to rural Wales that finally gave me the motivation to properly start to learn and my fifth pregnancy that gave me a target to aim for.
Our car in the Falklands, where I first started to learn to drive

The lessons taught me a great sympathy for the children as they struggled to learn new things.  As adults it's not very often that we take on something completely new to learn.  Most of the things we study will be building on knowledge we have already gained.  For a child everything is new and it can seem incredibly daunting.  I remember the frustration my daughter experienced trying to get her head around a new piece of maths homework (at the time I didn't realise that it was advanced work the teacher had given her to test her ability).  There were so many tears and tantrums that night, but in the end she worked it through.  Having felt a similar level of frustration with myself as I struggled to master 'reversing round a corner', I now have a greater level of understanding of what she was going through.

I have never wanted to drive.  Growing up in London I felt little need of it and also always felt overwhelmed by the traffic even as a passenger.  I disliked motorways as a child, and still don't like to be in a 70mph traffic jam.  To be honest, I was afraid of driving and didn't believe I would ever be able to get the hang of it.  I had lots of excuses - I couldn't afford to learn, I didn't have the time, it was better to walk and use public transport or a bike.

Living 12 miles from the nearest town on a 'two-hourly' bus route and no pavements to push a buggy on, I needed to learn.  No more excuses, the children want to go to after school clubs, visit their friends, go out in the holidays when daddy is working.  I need to drive.

So I learnt.  I did intensive lessons before Mr M was born and then some more intensive lessons afterwards (when my brain was more focused!) and I passed.  First time!  Hurrah...  The only trouble was the insurance was going to cost over £1000 and I couldn't be added to my husband's insurance.  So we waited, all through the summer when I'd been hoping to take the children on outings, for the insurance to come up for renewal so that we could change it.  Then we waited for the car to be MOTed and fixed.  Ten weeks of no driving.

Finally yesterday, I was handed the keys to one of the cars by my husband.  It was fixed, I was insured, I could drive.

The lane - the hill is steep!
Except... it's been 10 weeks since I drove a car and it's an automatic.  I've never driven an automatic.  I don't like not being able to control it with the clutch.  I don't know how to do a hill start in an automatic - we live on a hill.  It's easy, apparently.  Even a child could drive an automatic.

It's also a lot bigger than I'm used to - you don't learn to drive in a 4x4, not in the UK, anyway.  Last night we went for a quick drive up the lane - and it was fine.  Until I had to turn it around.  But I managed.  And it is easier.  It's just different.


Today, with a friend for company, I went on a proper drive, with traffic and everything (well, about a dozen cars) for about 40 minutes.  I made it out of the drive, up the hill, out of the junction, and onto the main road.  We drove.  We chatted.  Miss C and Mr M fell asleep.  I got up to 60mph.  I dropped down to 40mph and then 30mph as we went through the villages.  I pulled into a garage to turn round and managed to indicate (even if I did turn the windscreen wipers on first - wrong side of the wheel).  We made it home, I turned into our lane.  Controlled the car down the hill, turned into the drive, slowly, carefully, slowly... crunch!

We have two stone walls either side of the entrance.  I was too close to the one on my side.  I got wedged on the door handle, scraped off some paint.  Thank goodness for my friend, who very carefully manoeuvred the car out again and parked it for me.  I think I need more practise - or a wider drive...  I'm just glad it was the battered old 4x4 I was driving not the comparatively new one!

8 comments:

  1. you did very well dont let the scrape put u off least it wasnt the new car the jeep can take a few scrapes well done xxxx

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    1. You'd be hard put to spot the scrape amongst all the other bangs! I'll be well practised by the time you come down.

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  2. Well done despite the scrape, remember the first time we went for a drive after I passed my test and we nearly hit that car? We even had to stop to talk to the man because we weren't sure if we had! Anyway your driveway is very tight! Knock one of the walls down! xx

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    1. I do, pretty scary!!! I'm getting pretty good at the drive now - although I have to drive onto the verge to get into positon for reversing! I'm sure G doesn't do that...

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  3. I did the same thing with our car. We had to buy a bigger car when I had my fourth child and the first time i got behind the wheel I reversed out of our carport and scraped the side of our 6 day old car (and it was brand new) on the brick wall. I cried. The kids looked at me like I was barmy. And my husband said that now I had scratched the car I didn't need to worry about doing it again! Good for you for learning to drive in the first place!

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    1. Whoops! I'm glad our car is pretty ancient - we only bought it to save money on hire car for three months while we waited for our other car to be shipped back from the FI, and it's still going after more than a year.

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  4. Well done on passing. I bashed into someone not long after I passed and it knocked my confidence. Not thought of it in terms of children learning too. Good luck with the rest of your journey, you are doing really well.

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    1. I was so shocked when the driving examiner told me I'd passed - I'd still been struggling that morning with reversing round a corner, but that didn't come up on the test! I have driven most days since I got the keys and confidence is slowly increasing!

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