Monday, May 21, 2012

Driving and venturing out late

Get behind the wheel.

Two things of uniqueness happened last week. First, I started my driving lessons. Now, as you may well know already, I have driven in the United States for the past, what 20 years? I have driven in Florida that whole time, give or take a few visits to Ohio. I’ve driven an automatic except for the few manual shift lessons my Dad gave me on “little red” my grandparents Chevrolet Chevette. This means that, no, I can’t drive in the United Kingdom. I have my fancy learner’s permit and everything so I signed myself up to learn how to get my way around.

I thought what would trip me up the most was the natural instinct for me to be on the right side of the road. Honestly, since I was already oriented to the left side of the road, I understood that I had to stay in my lane. I also understood to stay away from the cars going the opposite way. So if you’re going to learn to drive on the opposite side of the street, my suggestion is to go out during the day when you can work with traffic. Otherwise, yeah, it would be confusing.

Since I’ve always driven an automatic, my issue was that now I couldn’t just pay attention to everything that was going on the road. I had to pay attention to the car and what I was doing with the car. This makes turns tricky. I have to slow down to 10 mph, see if anyone’s coming, change gears, drive on, etc. It really got me frustrated during my first go because I got overwhelmed with all the cars at the roundabout (and, let me tell you, in town at 4PM on a Friday, there were plenty of them) plus my understanding of what gear to shift in.

All in all I didn’t do too badly (or so my instructor, who was probably being very nice, told me.) I nudged a couple of curbs (remember, I’m on the opposite side of the road and the opposite side of the car – confusing!) I revved the engine too much and made that horrible stinky smell. (Sorry, car.) I stalled a bunch when I got panicky with all the little cars waiting on me to turn the dang corner (driving instructor said, “they’re behind you – don’t worry about them.”) But I did get up to 4th gear and was able to change gears okay even though I kept going a mere 20 mph (driving instructor kept telling me to go faster.)

Secondly, on Saturday night, Steve and I visited The Late Shows around town. From 7PM – 11PM the art galleries, library, museums and cinemas all had something different going on. We only saw a fraction of the events but going around in the sightseeing bus in the middle of the night around the city was so cool. We saw artists demonstrating their work process, people dressed up in costumes, modern dance performances, funky light shows, and just all around cultural fun. Highlight of the night – visiting the animals at Ouseburn Farm. There, I pet a rabbit named Dirk. I’m excited to go next year to see all the other places we missed. Our night was filled just by hitting a handful of places too.

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  1. Good luck with the daughter's about to put in for her test! ...and roundabouts are horrible in rush hour which around here is anything from 4-6pm!

  2. The first thing that I was taught was to stay calm and focused on the road. You won’t be able to do anything right if you keep panicking about other things. Anyway, after some driving lessons, I’m sure you’ll get by. Good luck!

    -Marvis Carswell

    1. Thanks. I've been taking lessons since last Summer, so I'm more confident on this road system here. It still freaks me out that cars drive so close to one another here though. Don't know if I'll ever get over that one.