Unlike most people, I didn’t learn to drive when I was 17. Well, I say that: I had lessons aged 17, but failed my first test. I then went off to uni and on a slightly-longer-than-intended trip around the world, and so it wasn’t until I arrived back home to Derbyshire, at the grand old age of 24, that I ever found myself in a situation where the ability to drive was a necessity.
I did learn. But I never really enjoyed it. I don’t like cars. I’ve can’t understand the appeal of owning a metal box that pumps out loads of poisonous fumes and has the potential to kill either yourself or someone else. I am also what I think most of my friends and family would describe as a “nervous passenger”. I don’t like going too fast, I don’t particularly like hills (either going up or down), I have been known to panic at steep bends, and please don’t overtake or drive too close to the car in front! Yes, cars might be convenient but give me a bus or train any day.
Needless to say, when I moved to London I was delighted that I no longer had a need for a car. London’s public transport system is fantastic: the tube and train network spans pretty much the length and breadth of the city, and buses run ALL NIGHT, EVERYWHERE! I could get wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted, without having to deal with the trauma of actually driving myself. Brilliant.
Obviously now I am in the deepest French countryside that situation has changed somewhat. I have seen signs for a bus stop about a mile down the road but I have never actually seen a bus. The nearest train station is about a 20 minute drive away, and while cycling is obviously an option, you should see some of the hills! Fine for a leisurely Sunday afternoon in the sunshine but if Dennis isn’t around and I need a loaf of bread in the winter or I need to get somewhere in a hurry, my push bike is simply not going to cut it (not least as the gears don’t work properly!).
So reluctantly, after 12 years of enjoying the luxury of being ferried around by other people, I have had to get back behind the wheel. And do you know what, it didn’t go too bad at all.
It helps that Dennis owns an automatic so that I don’t have to worry about clutch control (the stuff of nightmares!), and that there is virtually no traffic on the roads, but I didn’t hate the experience as much as I thought I would. I may even go as far as saying I even quite enjoyed it.
I still have a long way to go before I will be confident enough to drive on my own, but the two lessons I have had with the hubby have gone quite well. I didn’t crash, have a panic attack or get divorced. Of course, I haven’t yet had to overtake, reverse, or attempt to park so there is still time for that, but so far so good!