It took me 9 attempts to pass my driving test. That’s 18 months of driving tests, 6 driving instructors and countless lessons. Finally passed in July 2003 with the same female instructor who had failed me two test previously. Such a relief to get my certificate!
My parents bought my first car when I was still a student at university, a lovely little rover metro. It would sit tantalising outside the family home and it was three years before I could finally drive it. In the meantime I would wash it, vaccum clean it and sit at the wheel and dream of the days when I would driving around town.
My first car journey with my full driving licence? London to Portsmouth along the A3 with my parent in the car with me, to make sure I did not go astray. After that I was on my own.
My early driving experience mainly consisted of driving along the M27, M3 and A3 – my London, Portsmouth, Southampton triangle. I would also take regular trips to Brighton along the A27 (passing the time by counting the roundabouts!).
However as much as I loved my little car (£15.00 petrol per week, those were the days!) in the slow morning traffic I would look longingly at other cars and just wonder…In the end after 4 months and over 100,000 miles on the ‘clock’ and a level of self-pity, I succumbed. I bought a little Polo from a lady in Fareham. It was a nice little car which I had for four years until I changed to my little A-class (now £50 petrol per week to run).
It turns out that despite my dubious beginnings I actually love driving. I love the freedom. Of course now it comes with a price (£1.40/litre) but it is still great never-the-less. My favourite journey’s are on the motorways – maybe due to my early driving experiences. I love listening to music and have graduated from listening to carefully and painstakingly made tape recordings (including recording radio shows/interviews that I wanted to listen to again) to instant iPod lists that can be created with the touch of a fingertip. In my ferverant Christian days I would download sermons to listen to (to make up for not being able to get to Church). Once I was in my car with the music on I would just forget about the rest of the world and the drive and dream. It’s nice. The phone is switched off and all I have to do was worry about getting from A to B.
Driving at night is nice too – I used to call it driving with the ‘diamonds and the rubies’. Diamonds being the headlights and rubies being the backlights. I found it so pretty. The scariest driving time was when I would head from London to Portsmouth late at night and suddenly find myself on a stretch of road with no lights and no other drivers. It was somewhat chilling to look in the mirror and see nothing but blackness…When not worrying about the absence of light and people – at night I would usually plan all the short stories or books I was going to write. The only problem was that I would always forget by the time I reached my destination. I wish I could have a telepathic form a dictaphone to take down these thoughts! In fact the only one I remembered was the fact that I wanted to write a short story on night driving called diamonds and rubies…
My longest car journey ? London to Liverpool – driven in the sweltering heat of summer. Despite the problems with the air conditioning – it was still a nice journey. The most interesting parts were stopping at the rest stations and listening to the accents change the further north we got. Once we got to Liverpool – well, another story for a another blog, but suffice to say, a nice city.
Next long car journey? The dream is to drive to Devon/Cornwall. However I am afraid that I might chicken out and take the train (“let the train take the strain”) because I am now more scared of other road users!
The next car I have my sights on? Volvo V50 or variant of. I just like the idea of a big car to travel around the UK and camping. Have this dream of waking up on a sunny morning in a field with the sound of birds singing, dew on the grass and breakfast being cooked. This of course will remain a dream for a long time because I would have to be earning a fortune to pay for the petrol this type of car would consume.
In the meantime my little runaround will do just fine – now with 94,000 miles. I feel somewhat committed to it because in the past few years I have changes the engine and the gearbox – so it is partly new car…