Sometime around February/March 2003, with some assistance from my Mum I applied for my first licence. I was determined that I would learn to drive. For my 17th birthday I was given a “batch” of lessons. Around this time I also got a new part time job at a local Builder’s Merchant/DIY Store so that I could pay for additional lessons.
The first driving school I went with was a local company and the chap who owned the driving school was some how related to the chap who owned the local shop at that point in time. My instructor was lovely to start with but could be quite short and horrible at other times. I spent my first lesson mainly talking rather than driving but having never had a driving lesson before I went with the flow and figured that was just the way it went. I would book my lessons so that I got collected from school and dropped off at home, that way I didn’t have to walk home on driving lesson days. It was quite handy especially if it was an early finish day because of free periods. Fast forward about 10 months (I know it was before my 18th birthday but not sure how much before it). I went to Milton Keynes (again with my Mum) to sit my theory test. Quite a few of the hazard perception videos had been filmed around Bedford so I got a little distracted identifying the different streets. Even with that I passed my test and got my practical booked once I’d spoken to my instructor.
I took my practical but it didn’t go smoothly, I messed up my bay park in the exam centre car park when I got back and that was that. Having said that I nearly always “nose first” park now and probably couldn’t reverse park in our current car even if I tried! My instructor was about to drop me off home and we had a debrief. I’m not sure how it when now but I just remember her blaming me, how it was my fault for booking my test when I wasn’t ready (she said I was ready before I went in!).
I was upset at failing when I’d felt so confident so I think I told her I would be in touch if I wanted to book another lesson. Thankfully my parents were understanding and I booked my next lesson with the chap that my best friend had passed with. (He did a good job because my brother went with him too).
About three weeks or maybe a month after my 18th birthday I passed my driving test. My dad happened to be home that day so when he saw the instructor park the car a few doors along from my parents house he got up from his chair and waited near the front door for me. I was really excited and practically skipped down the street, as I let myself in with my keys, my Dad opened the door so I almost fell over into him! He gave me a big hug and told me about the prank he had played on my Grandma when he took his test.
I wasn’t able to afford a car myself outright but my parents were in the position to help me out. My first car was shared with my Dad and was a blue Ford Fiesta that got nicknamed Whippy.
It looked like this although it didn’t have the front lights like this one.
I don’t remember ever going to test drive it or even see it before they bought it as I think my Dad did the test drive while I was at work one Saturday. There was a particular reason why I couldn’t drive it straight away I think to do with the tax or the MOT but the car lived in my Grandparent’s garden/driveway for about three weeks.
My grandparents live in a village and their driveway runs along side the house and then into their back garden. It meant that I could drive the car off the concrete paving where it was parked up the driveway to the gate and then reverse it down the driveway back to the grass and start again. Sometimes I’d practice manoeuvres like reversing around an imaginary corner or attempting to parallel park in like with the edge of the grass that ran along side the drive. It was sort of silly but made me feel all grown up and like it was my car.
The car had previously belonged to a Boy Racer who had tweaked with a lot of the wiring. If you went over a speed bump or pot hole too quick you could get the CD to jump. In my second car if you took a roundabout too fast it would bring the petrol light on and then switch off again when you straightened up!
In the end Whippy had seen it’s best days. It was mine for about 5 or 6 months and then had to be taken to the scrap yard as that was all it was worth. My Dad thought I’d be teary when we took it to the dump but I was okay. I think I ended up more attached to my second car which was my sunshine yellow Fiat Seicento.
This is my entry into Insurance Revolution’s My First Wheels blogger competition. You can find info about how to enter here. Entries must be in by the 30th January. Good luck!!
The winner of the My First Wheels competition will win:
A Head to Head driving Experience at Silverstone. With this experience, you’ll get to drive two incredible cars on Silverstone’s world famous circuits. You’ll take the wheel in a F430 Ferrari Coupe and an Aston Martin VH Vantage. This will truly let you test the cars and live the rest of your days capable of having an informed opinion on the key question: “What drives better? A Ferrari or an Aston Martin?”
Overnight accommodation at the nearby Park Inn by Radisson Hotel on the day of your experience or the day before.