Driving Mr Handsome

Today my oldest son, Handsome, had his first driving lesson. He’s eleven! A company was running a promotion through GG’s work, offering a free driving lesson to kids between 11-16. Handsome just scraped over the lower height limit and so away he went. GG took him, and tells me that he was very good. The lessons are held on the top of a Cardiff multi-storey car park, and the kids get the opportunity to drive a real car and try a couple of manoeuvres. He even reverse parked! I just hope this doesn’t turn him into a petrol-head even before he hits his teens!


Never Eat Shredded Wheat…

…both a good tip to avoid insulting your tastebuds with bland blah, and a great way to remember at which points on a compass are north, south, east and west (start at the top and work clockwise for Never=north, Eat=east, Shredded=South and Wheat=west). This is something that a coach dirver I encountered early this morning would have done well to have committed to memory.

This morning I took some friends to catch a bus for the start of their holiday. We had been instructed by the holiday company to meet the bus at Cardiff Gate services, at junction 30 of the M4 motorway, so we duly arrived, quarter of an hour early, and waited. And waited. And then waited a little longer. At twenty minutes past the due time for the coach to arrive, we phoned the holiday company who connected us to the bus driver, who in turn told us he was at Cardiff Gate services. We couldn’t miss him, he was in a big green bus. Well, we drove round the whole area and there wasn’t any bus to be seen, let alone a big green one. So we called back and I asked him exactly where he was. And then something clicked. I asked him at which junction he was. He was at junction 33. But worse than that was that he was unmoveable about the fact that he believed himself to be at Cardiff Gate services, while I was at Cardiff West. Argue as I may, he wouldn’t believe me. I’ve lived in Cardiff for eleven years now, and I think I know my city as well as anyone. But let us study a map.

M4 junctions

As you can see, we were at Cardiff Gate, and not at Cardiff West. The giveaway is that we were waiting at services distinctly on the right hand side of the city, i.e. east. The only thing we were west of  was Newport (and England, if you want to get fussy). By no stretch of the imagination could we be said to be west of Cardiff.

However, eventually the coach driver conceded that as he was travelling to England, he would be passing us and would pick up my friends so we should stay put (good of him, offering to collect them from WHERE WE WERE TOLD TO BE!). En route, he had obviously worked out his mistake (the big signs saying ‘Cardiff Gate Services’ as he came off the motorway were probably a bit of a giveaway, to be honest) and was very cheery and jokey when he arrived. I just feel sorry for the people further down the route, as they would have had an extra forty to forty-five minutes waiting time added to their journey, just because the driver couldn’t tell his east from his west.

I’m keeping in regular contact with my friends as they journey towards the start of their holiday, and am hoping that they are keeping a good eye out of the window to make sure that the driver doesn’t end up taking them a few hundred miles in the wrong direction!

Driving, driving, driving!

I drove a long way today. Well, a long way for me, anyway. I reckon I covered about 140 miles, which, bearing in mind that I live in a city and everything I need is generally within four miles, is a fair mileage for one day. As we were driving down the motorway, with spray flying up from underneath the lorry in front of us, I said to Jo that I really don’t get why people commute like this if they have any other choice of transport.

However, it will have done Tallulah (my car, so named because she’s turquoise!) good to have had a long run down the motorway; or so my Dad says whenever you mention a long drive on a fast road! I tend to agree with him about cars. He has had considerably more experience than me, after all.

Anyway, where was I? That’s right, on the M4 motorway. I genuinely believe that you have to build up a sort of fitness level to be able to drive long distances regularly, much in the same way as you have to train before you can jog anywhere, or cycle up hill. And driving in the rain puts that much more pressure on you. I’ve been brought up (again, by my Dad) to assume that all other drivers are idiots until proven wrong, so my level of concentration is high. And it really takes it out of me.

I’m going to be driving a bit more than usual over the next few days, so hopefully by Monday or Tuesday I’ll be ‘fitter’, and feeling the effects less, which is good if I am ever to achieve my lifelong ambition. My friend Chris (who won’t let me post a photo of him here, meany!) and I hope, by the time we are too old to drive, to have held each class of driving licence at least once. We plan to start small, with fork lift trucks (or whatever the smallest class would be) and work our way up to the huge juggernauts that you see thundering along the motorways, scaring the living daylights out of me when I have to get anywhere near them. I’m sure that I’ll be fine if I’m actually driving one though, as it is the size of it in comparison to my small tin-can-on-wheels that particularly bothers me.

Anyway, with a lottery win all of this would be achievable so much faster, so please all keep your fingers crossed for me for tomorrow night. Jo was (also in the car today) outlining plans to build an Oxford quadrangle type building for her house if she were to win the lottery, which sounds good to me, so I don’t mind if she wins it instead! Also Mum has mentioned that she would look after me if she were to win, so surely one of us could manage a small fortune?

First anniversary of the month!

September is a month of anniversaries in our family. And the first one, not generally celebrated, is today. Five years ago today I passed my driving test. From today, I can say that I’ve been driving for five or more years, rather than having to remember the number of years and months each time I apply for car insurance. Yay! And, today I remembered (for the first time in five years) the exact combination of wheel turns required for a perfect example of a parallel parking manoeuvre! I think that at this, the five year mark, my stress-related amnesia relating to parallel parking may have lifted!

This probably isn’t the sort of thing that the daughter of a former driving instructor should admit to, but let me reassure you by saying that generally I believe that my driving abilities are deemed acceptable by my passengers! I don’t get many people hanging on to the sides of the seats, and no-one has ever asked (yet) to be let out of the car prematurely. I think that these are probably fair indications.