Tuesday, 13 November 2012

I am driving again

Volvo V50

I was a late starter with my driving lessons. Although I had my first when I was 18 years old in England. A mate of my dad would take me for a driving lesson on Sunday morning. I remember he had a car with the gear lever behind the steering wheel, probably to have the bench seat at the front. Anyhow it was something and nothing. Changing gears and breaking - any fool can do that, but steering. Now that is something to be practiced.
Many years later, after being married for some time and having a growing family we once had a problem. We were on holiday in the Bernese overland and Mr. Swiss had to go into hospital. I was stranded somewhere between the cows and a village with one little supermarket, and Mr. Swiss was in a hospital a half hour away by mountain bus, which only went about once an hour. Eventually Mr. Swiss was let out of the hospital, but I realised that if I had been able to drive a car, life would have been much easier at that time. I was really stranded with children, my english parents and had to make a go of things on foot.

I decided that it was now or never, so after we arrived home I reported for driving lessons. I was actually more at home with a car with lefthand drive as in Switzerland as I preferred changing gears with the right hand. The driving instructor soon discovered that although I was quick to understand the workings of a car, the steering wheel was a weak point. Anyhow to cut a long dismal story short, after about ninety driving lessons I was entered for the driving test. It was the week before we were off on holiday to the alps in the Valais part of Switzerland, around Crans Montana.

On the day of my test, my instructor said not to throw hope away, but the person who was testing me was the driving tester who had the record for being the worst in the area (living in a small place, everyone knows everyone else). I decided to keep my mouth shut and just drive. It seemed to pay off as I passed the first time (did I see my driving instructor make a cross in the air behind the examiner's back when I nodded yes, I did it?).

That was many years ago - 22.07.1982.

I even managed to drive up the mountain roads to untold heights on our holiday. I think it was the euphorie of passing the test, that gave me my daredevil talent. I drove everywhere. Motorways were no problem, my first big journey was with my oldest son to the Basel Zoo. I only look at the zoo now on photos. Of course I had to have my own car. Mr. Swiss drove a Simca at that time, and so I bought a second hand Fiat Top 127. A caramel coloured sweet little car, that would fit in any little space, even if you couldn't steer the car properly (yes, I still had problems).

In the meanwhile Mr. Swiss was working for Volvo (the people that make giant Swedish cars) but I still had my little Fiat, although had then progressed to a Panda and afterwards a Uno. I was then driving about 12 kilometers a day, to and from work and to the supermarket at lunch time to shop and eat lunch.

Mr. Swiss being a few years older than me, was soon retired so we had to make a decision keep the Volvo S90 or my sweet little Fiat that fitted in any little parking space. The answer was obvious and my fate was sealed. I now drove to work in an automatic Volvo S90 and my sweet little Fiat was no longer wanted.

The funny thing is that over the many years I was driving this monster car, I got used to it, to the extent that changing gears was a thing of the past. I was now a fully automatic driver. Even had power steering, so that problem was out of the way. I still couldn't steer, but it was less energy needed.

Today we are both golden oldies and still have a Volvo. So who drives. I never really enjoyed driving, so most of the time I leave it to my other half, the problem being that when you don't drive for a few months you tend to forget how to. We had a arrangement that I would drive home from our shopping trip, but I sort of got out of it when I could. I just do not enjoy driving.

Now I have had to face the fact, that this is not so good. Situtations can arise where I really should drive, so I am slowly but surely getting into the routine again. I have noticed that all the road directions have changed over the years. Roundabouts have been built everywhere, new motorways have been devloped and things are just not like they used to be. I now go to Tai Chi lessons once a week and discovered that the place where I go takes an hour to get there by local train and bus, but just 5 minutes by car, so now I have had to pull myself together and do the thing that has to be done. I have to park on a local supermarket place where places are few and far between. My favourite places are the ones where you have three empty next to each other. Then I can take the middle one. Unfortunately this is not the case, and I have to manoevre my Volvo (I think a V50) into a place where my little Fiat would have had space to spare at the two sides. I also have space to spare with my V50, but I have to fit the car exactly in the middle.

So life goes on, on four wheels. Tomorrow morning I am off to an early morning appointment at the docs, all on my own - but I can do it - I hope.


  1. Of course you can do it Pat. No worries. *smile.*

    I love driving and hate the thought that one day in the never nevers' I won't be able to.

    Hope all goes well at the doctors.

  2. I was a really late starter when it came to driving. Growing up in a big city like Birmingham, where public transport is plentiful and cheap, i never really felt a pressing need to. Mind you, starting so late made me more nervous when learning than if I had started as a teen. My test, just like yours, was very nerve-wracking. I had the chief examiner, of all people, doing mine!! I was most surprised to find I had passed first time!! I didn't think I'd ever enjoy driving, it was just a necessary evil, but I discovered I love driving. Particularly long journeys.

  3. Sorry, I forgot to say, I was 35 years old when I started taking lessons.

  4. It's really a good thing you start driving again. My mother has been driving until my father retired and from then he always drove until his death...and she never dared drive again! She once was independant and when she found herself alone she had to ask her daughters or s.o else to go shopping... I'll tell you about me later my cats and my dog are waiting for their meal :) (they're becoming nervous)

  5. I have been driving since 15 oh legally since 16 and love to drive. I especially love long trips and plan some in the future.
    You are correct Pat so much has changed and keeping up with it all is a challenge but it sounds like you are becoming the mistress of that V50 Volvo well done.

  6. I'm a late driver too... (35) didn't need it as long as I lived in town... I don't dislike it but I have phobias :)
    Brussels, Paris... and mountain roads with my camper van!

  7. Just for the record, I passd my test when I was 38 years old

  8. Volvo is a good choice :-) I have never liked driving, so I postponed the drivinglessons. Like you, I discovered the inconvenience of being without licence. Living in a densily populated area, one can't rely on buses to take you everywhere you want to go. I was 25 when I got the licence, and that was just 2 weeks before our son was born. My teacher said he was glad the labour didn't start while we were driving *lol* Men!

  9. Our public transport in South Africa is useless, so you simply have to drive. We both have our own vehicles, I loooooooove to be the driver, I drive fast and generally tend to ignore other people on the road. I am courteous and give way, but out my way here I come. Russell once remarked that I drove my then City Golf as if it was a Landrover with a bull bar on. I looked at him, raised an eyebrow and asked "it is not?" I learned to drive in a Landrover in the bush, so could explain it. Whenever I can get away with it, I leave my Opel behind and take the new Kia. "I got the power"

    Have fun driving, Pat. You can do it , imagine all the time you will save and you can use for writing marvelous stories to share with us.

    Hugs you