Posts Tagged ‘driving’

No Longer a Loser Learner

Monday, April 20th, 2015

It seemed like such an achievable goal – upgrade my automatic driving license to a manual. My 17-year-old self made the fatal mistake of giving up on the clutch way back in 2003 and I have only been able to drive automatic cars since. My time in Europe and the UK has demonstrated that this was a silly, silly thing to do as most cars in the northern hemisphere have that whole moving stick thing and additional pedal. I was back in Perth for six months – I would quickly learn to drive a manual car and upgrade my license.

Yeah. Easy. Not. Learning to drive wasn’t the hard part and once I had worked out what to do with my feet and had thrown one or two hissy fits, I was relatively confident. Surely I would pass the practical test with ease.

Apparently I was wrong. As I sat in the car park of the City West Transport office at 7.30 this morning, my stomach churning and a feeling of doom descending upon me, my Dad turned to me and joked, “Well at least this will make a good blog post.” I didn’t laugh. This was the second time in two weeks that I was attempting to pass my practical test. Two weeks ago my Dad and I drove out to Mirrabooka and after 35 minutes of driving around the suburban streets, I was informed I had failed.

Failed? But I have been driving for 12 years. I have never had a car accident. I can reverse parallel park. I understand the concept of ‘merging’ and I stick to my lane in a two-lane roundabout. And yet I had failed my test without stalling, without crashing, without killing an innocent pedestrian.

According to the driving test man, who has since gained nicknames that I can’t write because my mother reads this, I was coasting and therefore he was obliged to fail me. I also apparently took too long to find somewhere to turn around in the ‘Oh no, I have forgotten my wallet’ turn-around-and-go-back-to-where-we-started task. This was purely because he didn’t like the drive way that I had chosen to use as it was apparently too close to the crest of a hill. I also have thoughts on this but again, too many rude words are involved.

After much discussion with fellow driving test failures (aka the entire driving population of Western Australia) this guy was failing me just because he could. I may as well have not driven anywhere and had him give me a list of ridiculous reasons as to why I can’t drive. It resulted in me having nightmares last night about failing once again because I didn’t take my foot off the clutch early enough when turning corners.

But today was a good day. I was with a friendly man named Paul (yes, Paul) who was from the UK (yep) who seemed keen to pass me from the start. This time I drove around for 35 minutes feeling like I couldn’t do anything wrong. He suggested easy places for me to turn around, encouraged me to nudge my way in to a busy row of traffic and said “Just go through” when a traffic light turned orange as I approached. At the end of my test he said I had passed with 100 per cent which is a significantly different result to two weeks ago. Either my left foot had gained epic skillz over that short time period or there’s something just not quite right about the system – who am I to say? All I know is that I passed and I no longer have to drive around with bright yellow ‘L’ plates attached to my car and my dad sitting in the seat next to me.

One Month Down

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Believe it or not, I have been back in Perth for an entire month and I am yet to turn into a fried lobster. You could even say I have a ‘slight tan’, which mostly means I am not obscenely white – just very white.

It has been a busy month and I think life is about to become even busier. I now have two jobs. Yes, two. Why get one, when you can have two? Both positions are casual roles for the Subiaco local council – the first is working in the community engagement team while the other involves me organising cultural events in the library. I then come home and write amazing things for my clients, so I have been spending a lot of time lately staring at computer screens.

Meanwhile, my left foot is becoming more in tune with the movement of a clutch and I am slowly improving at this whole ‘manual car’ thing. I will admit to one rather large hissy-fit that was the result of a three-point turn, a hill start and a (luckily) very patient person waiting for me to work out the pedals. The fact that it was 38 degrees at the time didn’t help.

Last Saturday I volunteered for the Perth International Arts Festival again, this time at the new (well, new to me seeing as it had only just opened when I left Perth four years ago) State Theatre. I encouraged children and their parents to colour in flying machines and then have them projected onto a large digital installation. It was fantastic fun – watching children gain so much joy from seeing their artworks turned into magical moving images on a large screen was very pleasing.

PIAF

My art work zooming around on the screen.

Now I must dash and go to bed. I have taken to waking up at 5.50am to go for a run and/or head to the beach for a swim before getting ready for work. Ridiculous, yes. Enjoyable, also yes. A day without pre-breakfast exercise isn’t a day that you want to meet me. They say exercise gives you endorphins – I think it just sweats out my grumpiness.

Learning to Drive Again.

Friday, February 20th, 2015

I have had my driver’s license for a scarily long length of time. Twelve years ago I passed my driving test on the first attempt and hit the road as an independent P-plate driver, phoning my mum at home for an entire semester to let her know that I had made it to Uni safely.

Somewhat unfortunately, I made the lazy decision to avoid the frustration of learning to drive a manual car and opted to get an automatic license. As a result, I have spent the last four years being unable to borrow anyone’s car while living in France and England as most people own manual cars. Therefore, high on my priority list of ‘Things to do while back in Australia’ is to get my manual license. Joy, oh joy.

L plates

L for Learner.

The good news.

I didn’t need to re-sit a theory test to get my learners permit. Nor do I need to do 25 hours worth of logged driving hours. That’s where the good new ends.

The less good news.

Despite these two very positive points, I did, however, still need to go to a Licensing centre and wait with half of Perth’s population for almost an hour, worrying about my rapidly expiring parking ticket ($3.90 per hour), in order to pay for a learner’s permit. Why I can’t just do this when I go to sit my practical test, I’m not quite sure. But it is done now and I have a yellow piece of paper that says that I am once again a ‘Learner’. I’m even going to get a card in the mail with my photograph on it. Shame I had a swollen eye yesterday thanks to an ingrown eyelash. GOR-GEOUS.

I hate being useless.

I have been out driving with my Dad a few times now and it hasn’t been a complete disaster. I am yet to crash and my rating of stalling the car isn’t that high, considering my lack of experience with a clutch. However, it is testing my ability to accept my flaws and be ok with the idea that I am learning and therefore am not going to be an expert yet. This is hard as I hold ridiculously high expectations of myself and I consider myself to already be a competent driver, and yet I am now struggling to get a car to go from stationary to moving. I am glad my Dad has less-than-perfect hearing as I stop un-lady-like words escaping from my mouth.

Anyway, give me a month and I’ll be a pro. In the meantime, if you see a white Volkswagon Up! (yes, the car has an exclamation mark in its name which hurts every bone in my writer’s body) with ‘L’ plates on it, please give me space.

SNOW!

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

On my trip to England I learnt a very valuable lesson – the more you complain about not getting something, the more likely it will come when you least expect it. For example, snow.

I missed out on the snow in Paris this year due to French visa requirements and was a TEENY BIT disappointed. Ok, I cried. But it really was very unfair as all I wanted was a little bit of fluffy white stuff to start tumbling from the sky sometime around the Christmas period. Not a big ask, in my opinion, but clearly too hard to manage for the French Weather Gods.

I had given up all hope for seeing snow this winter as Paris has now moved into Spring with the flowers and the birds and the babies, but then I went to England. Good old England and its crummy weather. The day I arrived it was beautiful and sunny (and apparently hot but I’m not convinced that 19 degrees can be classified as hot), the day after it rained, the day after that was sun again. On Tuesday morning, when Ben and I drove to Manchester, it was sprinkling and by the time we arrived it was definitely raining. We spent the morning dodging rain drops walking through Manchester but in the afternoon it cleared up. However, there was clearly something brewing in the sky as very dark patches of clouds loomed in the distance and the winds picked up. As we left Lesley’s house at 9pm, it was cold, dark, windy and threatening.

The drive home required us to go up into some hills and the higher we climbed the colder our car’s temperature gauge told us it was outside. It was raining and soon that rain turned into icy rain and then suddenly I was able to scream out in delight, “IT’S SNOWING!!!”

England snow

Yikes.

I think Ben, as driver, was slightly less pleased by the snow as he was having to tackle slippery roads and very strong winds pushing torrents of snow flakes into our car as we zoomed along the motor way. It was like driving into an asteroid belt and going through a time warp. I suspect Doctor Who would have experienced similar things. It was pretty scary as rain + wind + snow + not really knowing the roads = not so good, but Ben’s good driving skills, the iPad GPS and some awesome 80s, 90s, and 00s hits as our driving music helped us get home safely.

The next morning it was snowing in Creswell but not pretty white fluffy snow – soggy, wet, melt-on-impact snow. Apparently other areas not far away had been snowed in so technically we were lucky, but it would have been nice to see some decent snow that wasn’t just gross. Anyway, I was still happy and did scream with joy like a child on occasion.

Creswell Snow

It looks like Christmas!

I am heading to the Alps this weekend with some friends where I will get to see some REAL snow – but I kind of like this random, unexpected non-mountain snow that just happens because it is cold.

Highlight #2

Monday, June 20th, 2011

I promised three highlights and so far have only delivered one. That’s shocking. Here’s your second:

Germany

Our trip to Germany involved staying at Tom’s Oma’s house in a suburb of Koblenz with his Oma (we didn’t kick her out) and his parents who are currently touring Europe. Koblenz is in a particularly nice location – Nero Claudius Drusus picked a good spot when he established Koblenz as a military base in 8BC (information stolen from Wikipedia.) It sits where the Rhine and Moselle rivers join so it is surrounded by water and green valleys full of castles. Hence my highlight of Germany was our daily drives along the rivers.

We hired a Hyundai I20 and everyday we’d pick a place to go and drive there, spending as much time as possible avoiding the autobahn and driving along the rivers. The views are just spectacular – driving along the curving river edge with green hills on either side, blue skies (generally) and then the odd castle scattered high up on the hills. One of the highlights of this highlight is when we went to a town called Boppard and took a chairlift to the top of one of the hills. The chairlift took 20-odd minutes to reach the top and you had plenty of time to take in the views.

chairlift
Check this out!

The rivers are very well used – the sun was shining so there were people out and about on bikes or walking, hundreds of boats were going up and down the river and every town has cafes and bars open for visitors. Plus there are castles on every side of the river that are open to tourists. Slightly different to the Swan river. One day we sat and had a beer at the top of a castle and watched the sun slowly going down. The castle was built sometime around 1300 and the beer was brewed locally. Now that’s good stuff.

Beer and castle

Ahhh...