God, I’ve put this one off for a very long time. Most of my friends learned as soon as they turned 17, and that probably would have been a sensible option for me as well. But I’ve always lived in cities with good public transport options, so it’s never been something I’ve needed to do, and the stratospheric cost has been pretty off-putting. However, driving is something I associate with being a grown-up, and I can’t really pretend that I’m not a grown-up once I turn 30!
There’s no way that I’ll pass my test before my birthday, but at Sophie’s Christmas party I was chatting to her friends about driving and Gabe said, “do you actually need to pass in order to tick this off, or just ‘learn to drive a car’?” When I wrote my list I definitely meant pass my test, but I think I’ll tick this one off in my head using Gabe’s logic – thanks!!
Step 1 – Theory Test
I did my theory test years ago – probably around a decade ago – and failed it (remember that horrendous day Jane?! Haha!). I then went back a couple of months later and passed, but waited so long to start driving that it expired. So far, so useless. In December I went to a horribly ugly test centre in London Bridge, spent the entire test being hideously distracted by a man mouth-breathing incredibly loudly, but came away with a brand new pass certificate! Theory test, done!
Step 2 – Find an instructor
I’m learning with the AA, and my instructor Rob is fantastic (Robert Baylis, if anyone is looking to learn around Crouch End). It’s soooo expensive (£28/hour) but I honestly think it’s worth it, and Rob spends much longer than the 2 hour time slots just chatting to me and reassuring me.
Step 3 – Learn how to drive on the mean streets of London
So far, whenever I’ve told someone that I’m learning in London, they’ve pulled a face and normally said something like, “you’re brave!” “you’re mad” or “can’t you drive already?!” (thanks guys). It’s pretty scary learning in London but I don’t have anything to compare it to, so not as terrifying as I imagined. Plus I see some pretty cool stuff – car chases, undertaking, angry altercations – it definitely tests my reaction times! So far I’ve had 10 hours of lessons and I’m starting to feel like I know what I’m doing.
Step 4 – Buy a car
To get in some extra practice, and to tick off a grown-up box, I thought I’d better buy a car. I’ve got a little red Ford KA, which is old and basic of course, but it’s my car!! I love it so much!! Dan’s helping me to get in some practice outside of lessons, and the bonus for him in having a car is that he can use it for cycling trips – of course (who knew you could get a mountain bike in a KA?!). I love the freedom of having a car, even if I can’t drive it on my own yet. There’s something so nice about the idea of being able to just escape, and not have to rely solely on trains and buses and tubes.
(not the most flattering photo, but I think you can tell how excited I was!!)
Step 5 – Pass my test
To be continued!!