A month after I agreed to become an ambassador for Marmalade, I have just had my first lesson. Well, I say my first lesson, my first was in actual fact little over a year ago but after I was told by my parents I had to start funding my lessons, I chose to defer learning to drive until I had finished my A-levels (which is now). There were other things that needed my money – like fast food, cinema tickets and watching Leicester city play… obviously!
I must admit it felt a bit strange to be behind the wheel of a car again. I knew where everything was but felt panicky about how to coordinate it all. It was also with an instructor (Jason) I’d never met before – and I was desperate to impress him. Firstly, with me as a passenger, we went through a lot of the basics again (ie finding the biting point, how to change gear etc.) We drove to a very quiet road near the village of Folksworth where the traffic was light. As he was talking I became increasingly impatient – not because I didn’t appreciate what he was saying but because I just wanted to swap seats and get driving! After 10 minutes (which felt much longer) we finally swapped seats and I was ready to shake off my rustiness. First things first, I adjusted my seat, wing mirrors and rear-view mirror and started the car and off we went. I was extremely nervous at first, I was frightened I would stall where actually I didn’t stall at all, so I was very happy with myself! We were quite shaky the first few attempts at stopping and starting but as the lesson went on it become much smoother and, of course, this boosted my confidence!
Taking it up a gear
It was now time to change into second gear! We had discussed the location of each gear change during the discussion prior to setting off, however despite this I couldn’t help myself from having a quick glance down confirm where second/third gear was. This is something I struggled with, whenever I changed gear, I had a quick look down, as opposed to keeping my eyes on the road ahead. Also, when I changed gear the car turned slightly as I took my left hand off the wheel and although I still had my right hand on it, I struggled to keep the car completely straight. My instructor was giving me lots of tips and advice and was very vocal. However, by the end of the lesson, he was almost silent which I’d hoped was an indication of the progress I made during the lesson. At one point we got up to 5th gear, around 60mph and although a lot of learners perhaps struggle at higher speeds, I actually enjoyed it and felt more confident.
Putting my skills to the test
On the road where we were, there were a couple of steep bends and turns, so my steering was tested. We talked about a technique for steering, hand to hand steering. So basically I had both my hands at the top of the steering wheel and I gripped the wheel firmly with my right hand, pushed down and slid my left hand down at the same time, I then gripped the wheel with my left hand and pushed up while also sliding my right hand up. I felt relatively confident going into my first steep turn. To be completely honest I found turning very difficult on my first or second try, partly because I wasn’t aware how sensitive steering on cars was and how this particular car steers. My fourth or fifth try was so much better, and we managed to complete the process with no collisions, damage, or stalling! I definitely learned from the mistakes of my earlier tries at steering and it probably ended up being the thing I was best at in this first lesson.
At the end of the lesson, we discussed my progress. Jason was on the whole impressed (with the steering mainly) and said it was a very good first lesson. In my next lesson, we are going to recap what we did in this lesson and work on my steering in more depth. For example, go to a more populated, housing estate and drive at slower speeds.
All in all, I very much enjoyed being back in a car again and feeling that buzz of learning to drive. I have booked my next lesson and look forward to it. I would say the things I was best at were steering and driving straight at high speeds however I struggled a bit with changing gear when going into a higher gear and also my pulling away could certainly be smoother. Let’s see how I get on next time!
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