Hi. It’s been a while. I thought it high time I gave you an update of what I’ve been up to since passing my test.
I highly recommend passing the driving test. I don’t mean that in a flippant way. For those of you working towards your test – be it a re-take or a first attempt – trust me when I say I know what you are going through. For those who are feeling the challenge, take heart: I was nervous, very nervous. But nerves can be overcome.
So I passed on 21st October. It remains one of THE defining moments of achievement in my life. I can honestly say that I cannot recall a time when I received so many heartfelt congratulations from so many people – mostly family and relatives but friends too. It is a real pleasure to see how delighted people are when you have good news to give.
I’m side-tracking slightly but I’ve just thought of something. If learning to drive is a big deal for you then here’s a tip: Don’t tell the world and all his friends that you are learning. Keep it quiet. Just think how surprised everyone will be when you tell them you’ve passed your test. If others know you have a test, the weight of their expectations may add to your own pressure.
It’s probably ideal to have a car ready to drive fairly soon after you’ve passed. However, depending on finance and other factors this can be easier said than done. In terms of getting my own car – I honestly didn’t really know where to start. Where would I look? What could I afford? Would it be reliable? What about all the other expenses like insurance and fuel? It felt a bit confusing.
By Christmas I still hadn’t set foot in a car again. By this time I felt a nagging pressure within. Don’t leave it too late, warned a slightly angsty internal voice. You’ll get cold feet. You’ll forget how to drive.
I got back in to the driving seat of a car last weekend. The car belonged to my girlfriend’s mother, who had just purchased a new vehicle. Enquiries were made about putting me on the insurance. Within half an hour of my name being added to the policy, I was driving myself and my girlfriend along a fairly narrow, fairly muddy lane in the New Forest.
The fact the car (a Fiat Punto) is an automatic was the first thing I had to get used to.
“Imagine you don’t have a left leg”, said Julia’s brother. “You do all the pedal work with your right foot.”
My first drive lasted no more than 15 minutes. It was just to get a feel of the car. I took it on a circular route. The gas pedal seemed really sensitive. It didn’t take much pressure for the little silver beast to lurch forward. The brake pedal is much wider than in a manual. Working with just my right foot felt a little strange at first. Despite that the biggest feeling I got from this drive was pleasure.
I’m driving again! I can still drive! I haven’t lost it!
I also reversed round a corner and did a turn in the road on this first drive.
The next day it was rainy and grey and horrible. I did another short drive in the morning as a kind of warm up. When I learned to drive with Tony I had been terribly lucky with the weather – I don’t recall it raining heavily (if at all) during a single lesson. Today I was working out how to get the front wipers swishing intermittently.
After this I completed half the journey back to my house, having been staying in the New Forest with Julia. This time I had two passengers. The drive involved a couple of roundabouts and a set of traffic lights.
Next time I will do the whole journey which will involve the dual carriageway and a bit of roadside parking. I just need a bit more practise to get used to this little car and get it under my control. I believe that confidence will build with experience and that I will gradually come to find the whole process of driving a more comfortable thing.
Like Bond, this blog will return. (All comparisons with said Spy absolutely end there unfortunately).