Well, the end of last year ended on a bit of a low. I failed my driving test with 9 minors and 2 serious. Less than a month
later, and just a week into 2013 I passed with just 2 minors! On 9th January 2013, at 10 past 12 I found out that I’m finally free! Honestly, I’m so happy. As you will all know, getting to dog shows, dog training classes, to places to walk the dogs and even just to work has been rather stressful. Lead walking the dogs everywhere, having to rely on others to get to the shows and then not even being able to get there sometimes. Having to take the train/bus everywhere and then having to deal with buses not turning up/trains being late. I am so happy, I cant even say!
So, as I did a whole blog post on failing my test I thought id do one on passing too . The lead up to this test was much different to the previous. Before I was thinking about it everyday from the previous week onwards, thinking ‘oh I could have passed my test this time next week!’ I made sure to not do this, 2nd time round. In fact, I didnt even feel like I was doing my test until I woke up on the day. The day before, I had a driving lesson, and I was making silly mistakes like bumping the kerb and forgetting to turn my signal off when coming off the dual carriageway. I’d never done either of these before, and it was really annoying! Funny how things just happen, like on my test the previous time, everything I failed on I’d never done before.
Well, other than that it was a good lesson. The next day though, I woke up and was so nervous! The previous time id been quite relaxed and chilled… this time I was actually shaking and feeling physically sick. I was so worried about having to do it all a 3rd time more than anything, and having to pay another over £100 to do the test. Instructor picked me up at half 10 (test at 11.20) and I drove over to the test centre. Last time, the weather had been sunny and icy, this time however it was drizzly and foggy. We got to the roundabout at the top of the main road from my house, and it was thick fog. Both me and my instructor were panicking a bit! Luckily, the further away we got the more the fog cleared. Lucky for me, where I take my test is a 45 min drive! In fact, to get there I have to drive past the start of the motorway… which is where I would go to get anywhere exciting. Thats always fun, as I always think ‘one day, I wont take the exit into the town ill keep going onto the motorway and onto somewhere exciting!’
Anyway, got there and there were a lot more things happening than the last time. Saw an ambulance, a bin lorry, a weird thing where they were digging up pavements and lots of cars parked up. Getting in and out of the entrance to the test centre car park is scary enough as its such a small road. Its on this road I almost took off the wingmirror on the first test. It looked a lot scarier this time round due to the incident last time and lots of things happening! The roads were generally quiet though, so I was quite happy about that.
I was shaking when I got out the car and while waiting in the waiting room. Then the examiners came out. I got a different one to last time, which I was very happy about. He was lovely, so friendly and kind. I was so nervous! Despite the fact id already been here once, I sort of forgot everything I was meant to be doing and even forgot completely about the number plate reading. Lol! Eventually got to the car, sat down and I was back doing another test. First up, the ‘show me, tell me’ questions. First one, how to check power steering. Well, I had no idea lol! In fact, when I asked parents after they also had no idea. So I wriggled the steering wheel, thinking it was something to do with the steering lock. Turned ignition on, wiggled it a bit more. He was like ‘are you sure thats how you check power steering?’ and I had no idea so was just like ‘yep, think so’. Knew I was wrong, but I had no idea! Then he asked me how to check tyre tread… my explanation was along the lines of putting a thing in between the things on the tyre. Luckily, he understood what I meant .
Then we set off. Coming out of the car park I felt a bump and was like ‘oh no, i’ve hit the kerb, failed’. I didn’t hit the kerb, by the way, as I felt same bump coming back in. But it certainly panicked me for a second. Didn’t have long to dwell though because 2 seconds later I was stuck behind a bin lorry. We were stationary for a good 5 mins. The car in front overtook, but had to suddenly stop as it was such a tight squeeze. Then the taxi driver behind me suddenly put his foot down and zoomed past me, again having to stop as it was a tight squeeze. Then I was faced with decision, do I attempt to overtake or sit here?! I stayed put, and eventually the bin lorry got going… going exactily the same way we were. So examiner then had to change the route slightly to avoid it. Good start .
Drove round a bit more, and he then got me to stop behind a parked car. He then wanted me to go again, from close behind the parked car. It wasn’t super close, but if I’d not been on test I would have reversed to see more of what was coming. My instructor would have said same thing too. I was confused for a minute as to what he was expecting me to do, so I reversed. He then stopped me and went ‘urm, okay one of the things I have to check is that you can pull out from close behind a parked car’. So I then had to inch forward again, before pulling away. Oops! I was a bit embarassed to say the least.
The route was actually a lot harder than the last one. There were quite a few times where we were on a one way and I had to change lanes to turn right/left. For some of it I was just following what he said, looking at the signs and hoping this is the right way. I did question quite a few times if I was going in the right direction, but apparently I was. I didn’t like the route though, I kept thinking ‘oh please end soon’ because I was just expecting myself to make a mistake. But, I didnt . Even when a huge lorry was coming towards me I stopped well back to let him through. I was very pleased with that one as knowing where to stop is what I struggled with the most when I started lessons.
Then we had the reversing exercise. On the last test, it had been a 3 point turn… very easy. On this test, I had to reverse round a corner. As soon as he said it I was just thinking oh no. I’m actually quite good at them, my instructors always commented on how I find it easier than most people. However, its too easy to make a mistake. It was a very sharp corner too, that went very sharply uphill. Evil! So, I went the other side of it and… was way way way too wide. Had a slight panic attack, but just went forward and closer. Then reversed. This part went on forever. When I got round the corner, I once again went too wide. Didn’t help, there were cars all over the place so I had to keep stopping. Then there was a car that was parking behind me, so I was sort of sat half up this hill in the middle of nowhere trying to work out what it was doing! I managed to correct it though by basically doing a half parallel park (if you get what I mean). And, 10 mins later, I had completed it! Thought I’d at least get a minor though.
So, after that it was mainly main roads, which I liked. I did go too slow at one point, I missed the national speed limit sign and was going at about 40. Lol! Oh, and I kept losing power going up a hill as well so I ended up in 4th gear… then car struggled so went down to 3rd, car still struggled so went down to 2nd! No idea why, I’d clearly completely misjudged that bit. Picked up the pace again though, and ended up joining a dual carriageway for all of 2 minutes, at the part where if I kept going id be on the motorway . So then, I just did more driving before ending up back at the test centre.
Well… the last time id had a sneak look at the bottom of the sheet and had seen the ‘NO’ crossed out. I didnt look this time. Before my instructor had even got to the car, he said ‘im pleased to say…’ and ive forgotten the rest because I’d passed!!! I actually said ‘are you joking?’ Then my instructor came over, and I was actually shaking like a mad thing. He took my green provisional licence because my pink actual driving license will come in the post soon! I ended up with just 2 minors, 1 on that power steering question and the other on going too slow. How amazing is that?!
Honestly, im so happy. I’m free! No more driving lessons, no more L-plates, never have to go back to that test centre again… and my driving licence is pink! I just keep thinking of all the places I’ll be able to go, and its just so exciting. Can take the dogs for a walk anywhere I like, rather than being limited to walking distance/train stations. I won’t be driving to any dog shows just yet, I need to build up some confidence in driving on my own before I do that! But, I’m hoping that in the summer and the next winter season i’ll be going to every single one I can . Getting to work will just be so much easier, its only a 15 min drive away and its all on main roads so doing that route quite often will help build my confidence. No more waiting around for buses that may not turn up, no more trains, no more walking everywhere… ah its so exciting!
And yes… I have a car! Its a lovely little silver Ford Ka. Its not perfect, got a few scratches and has a bit of blue paint on the front where someones hit it, but for a first car its great! The dogs can all fit in, and thats the main thing . The insurance costs are a bit evil, but thats what I get for wanting to drive so young. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to drive until 4 days after id been insured, thanks to snow (note pic at top, well and truly snowed in!) Bit annoying, but was very exciting when I finally got out on Wednesday. Went for a drive round with my mum, just doing a few routes like the route to work and then the route to the town. Later on that day, I then took the plunge and drove on my own for the first time. It was a very short route, I took Indi to the beach. Its a 20 min walk and about 5 mins in the car. I was so happy when I got home, it was very nerve racking having no one else there but I did it!
So, on Thursday I took Kez and Ernie to the nearby country park. Its a 10 min drive, we walked there once and it was a good half hour to 45 min walk, maybe even longer. However, it was like another world there as the car park was covered in frozen snow, and there was a good few centimetres more snow there than at home, despite being so close. I actually got really confused where the car park was and ended up going round the roundabout twice, and then having to turn round in the frozen snow as I’d gone past it. It was a lovely walk though, and the drive there and back was actually really nice and easy.
However, Fridays was another matter. Decided to drive Indi and Ernie to the beach but my car was facing the other way, and me being a bit of a scaredy cat I ended up not doing all the routes I could have as I was a bit scared to, and going miles out of my way! I could have turned right on the main road, and got to the beach straight away, but because it was a busy road and the side road looked so small I chickened out. And then, driving along I spot a car coming out the petrol station. It had stopped, but was sticking out so I slowed down. Then, as I got closer it suddenly started moving. I had no idea what to do, I should have slowed down a lot sooner and let them out, but instead I had to swerve onto the other side of the road to avoid them. There was nothing coming, but it definantly wasn’t a good experience. Lesson learnt, if someones creeped out further than is normal they might pull out on you. That’s my inexperience screaming out. Oh, and then on the way home I had real trouble finding the bite point and kept stalling it. When I went to park it at home, I hit the kerb and while trying to move it, it stalled again! I was really confused then, I thought id broken my car already. Turned out… the handbrake hadn’t been all the way down. So, not a great day. But, all experience.
So, I have freedom! Now its just building my confidence. Its so scary driving on my own, particuarly when things go wrong and theres no one to help you. So, at the moment im staying local and not driving any further than 15 mins away. I do enjoy it when everythings going well, and I know what im doing but it really brings me down when I handle things wrong. Its getting easier with every drive though, and its great to finally have the freedom ive waited so long for!
Oh, and some other news for you. I have also been accepted into university! I have been offered 4 unconditional places so far. The one I really want to take is studying animal behaviour and welfare. Its about an hours drive away, and obviously id like to live at home so its something to think about, but now I have a car, a driving licence and a job, its possible! Just have to see what happens .
So, what an amazing start to the year. Its amazing how things just happen, if I hadnt got my job in the summer theres no way I would have passed my test now and have a car. I look forward to what the rest of the year holds. Hopefully lots of new experiences, meeting new people and just enjoying life. So, a happy new year to you all! I wonder what the rest of the year holds . Can’t believe Januarys almost over already!
Enjoy the photos . All the snows gone now, but we sure enjoyed it! Now its gone, im just enjoying my new freedom. As im sure the dogs are too .