Learning To Drive

Carole Finds Her Wheels #1

I had my first driving lesson this morning. I have driven a car before – probably about 3 hours in our old car, Felix the Focus (estate) doing figure 8s in a car park and pootling round country lanes plus driving down 3 bumpy fields in our new car, Chaos the Mondeo (also estate) so that Caius could drive a tractor. But all of those were quite a while ago and aside from remembering which pedal was which, I wasn’t convinced I knew much else, so today was like starting from scratch.

I passed my theory test in June 2013 – time is running out for me to pass my practical before I have to redo it – proper lessons were required!

So today I embarked on my journey to being able to use the car on the school run when it is minus 3 and pouring with rain (this is the main thing I am looking forward to…)

My instructor’s car is a BMW Mini (diesel) so I was a bit afraid it was going to feel like driving a cardboard box after only ever being at the wheel of huge great estates but actually, it wasn’t too bad. It felt chunky at least, I didn’t feel like I was driving the smallest thing on the road, even when I met a big four-by-four down a country lane.

My first issue was that I couldn’t work out how to start the thing – it’s a push-button system and I was trying to turn the key which, unsurprisingly, didn’t work. That explained, I slowly began to remember the basics about which pedal to press when and whatnot.

To start with I had a habit of driving at the hedge whenever I changed gear but I just about got that under control by the end of the lesson. I’m also a bit trigger happy with the accelerator at the moment so my gear changes are a bit clunky.

I only stalled the once and that was the first time I had to stop – I hadn’t relaxed yet and panicked a bit – braked with the wrong foot. Only did that the once though and then calmed down.

My instructor has decided though that I don’t need any more practise pootling around country lanes because I’m competent enough with staying on my side of the road and stopping and starting that we can go straight into driving round town with other cars in my next lesson.

Which is tomorrow.

So yes, town driving and junction work is next to get my braking smoother and my confidence up a bit. I’m all right once I’m going in a straight line but I’m a bit twitchy when I have to do junctions.

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