I can see why driving is fun. This lesson, P. took me up familiar roads first, Colwell Road and on to Alum Bay and the Needles, including coaching me through the exit from my driveway onto the main road. The fear of the my driveway has been building over the week, as it is curved, sloped and goes onto a bend that is if not quite blind, then at least partially sighted in both directions. My steering was decidedly jittery for 15 minutes until I settled back into driving – being away for a week with no practice in-between doesn’t help.

We then went on a major detour form what was normal and familiar, heading from the Needles past Farringford (formerly the home of Tennyson), into Freshwater Bay and up and along the Military Road. The Military Road is one of my favourites as a bus passenger, with striking scenery and a steeply climbing, cliff-edge ride, and so to tackle it as a driver for the first time was fantastic. The sun was that brilliant pale golden colour it gets to in winter, illuminating West Wight with an almost painterly quality. Of course, it was horribly low and, on a west to east morning journey, dazzling to the point of needing the sun visor down.

The main purpose of this lesson was to get me into fourth gear, as the Military Road is one of the few long stretches of tarmac that allows Island residents to travel at more than 20mph. The Top Gear crew used it for one programme several years back, where no doubt they drove a car at more than the 60 mph limit… But back to the driving, I still have trouble in gear changes where I haven’t get learned to take my foot completely off the gas while using the clutch, a matter of co-ordination that I’m sure will come.

We went through to Brighstone, where again reactions were good enough for me at an uphill T-junction to stop as a van whooshed past on the main road as it came round the wall by the church. And I didn’t drift backwards into the car behind either. 🙂

I got to practice an in-road turn (or three-point turn as it used to be called), and marvelled that you have to actually do this without bumping the kerb come test day. I didn’t – but then the road was quite wide at that point.

And then it was on along the winding Island roads to Mottistone and Brook, back along the Military Road, through Freshwater and home. All in all, about 90 minutes out on the road. Again, I felt quite good at the end of it all, but I can understand why on long journeys two hours is the recommended break time – I’d certainly be feeling quite twitchy by then.

In the evening I sat down with the computerised version of the theory test. For fun, I went through a mock test, scoring 46 out of 50, which would, remarkably, have passed me. I then revised the section on accidents, and realised then that knowing the Highway Code is just part of the theory. I did find the overall selection of questions repetitive, with various takes on what to do when, say, a motorcyclist is on the road injured, but I guess it drives everything home.

No lesson now until next week, but I hope to cram in some more driving time providing that someone is brave enough to sit with me.


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