Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Driving

You know there's nothing like driving a convertible with the top down, blue sky and palm trees above you. I love driving a manual (stick shift) car with the stereo blaring some great sing along tune and reasonably clear roads - it ups my mood and puts a smile on my face.

I learnt to drive when I was 19, no one in my house drove so we didn't have a car but it was something I wanted to do. I payed for my own lessons by working at The Gap, doing babysitting and asking for money for birthdays and Christmas. I failed my first test because I badly messed up on parallel parking but passed my second time. By the time I passed my step grandad had donated his car to my step dad, who was also taking lessons. The car had about 2 months left on an "anybody can drive it" kind of insurance so I was given free reign, I loved the freedom it gave me. Unfortunately by the time the insurance ran out my step dad had passed his test and decided that he wouldn't include me on the insurance, so I was car less for a couple of years.

I spent a year in Georgia as an exchange student and a car was pretty essential. My then boyfriend and I scoured the papers and eventually bought a Mitsubishi Colt which was nicknamed "The Beast". I rarely drove it though because the freeways with their 5 lanes on each side and everyone undertaking and overtaking all at the same time freaked me out a little. "The Beast" got us to Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland and New Jersey. When it was time to go home it was pretty much knackered but we left it with a friend who assured us that he was going to take good care of it, we later heard that it was eventually towed from the college car park and I presume was taken to the great scrap heap in the sky. I still remember the registration BPE 164 and the night that we ran over a sheep (it was already dead) in the middle of an exceedingly dark country road (glad we didn't run into any cops as the car didn't get kind of bloody)

After I graduated I bought myself a Ford Fiesta, it had a 950 engine and was a kind of burnt orange colour. It cost me 400 quid and I was terrified of driving it at first because I'd hardly driven since I passed my test 4 years previously. My daily trips on the M25 soon cured me of any driving fears and I found that I really liked driving. After about a year it started to die on me and eventually decided to stop all together. I bought a newer car (another Fiesta) and left my poor dead orange thing parked outside on the street because I couldn't be bothered to call a tow truck. It would mysteriously move several feet up or down the road over night, we found out that the local kids were using it as a little meeting spot and would bump it along the road for fun sometimes - I left them to it hoping that one day one of them would just take it away. I nearly got my wish, the police turned up one night at my door saying that someone had tried to steal my car but that luckily an observant neighbour had noticed (at 2am) someone acting suspiciously round the car and rang the police. A short while later I bit the bullet and paid a tow company to come and take it away.

When I came to California I knew I wanted a convertible and bought a 1973 MGB, I thought I was the bees knees and absolutely loved to drive it even though it was a bit temperamental and the battery would short out at very inopportune moments (like on the freeway driving at 65 miles an hour at night). Since then we've had a BMW 3 series convertible, a Mitsubishi Eclipse (current convertible), a VW Golf (when Callum was born) and now a VW Passat wagon (estate car for you Brits) which can comfortably hold 2 strollers, 2 car seats and all the various paraphernalia you find yourself carrying around when you have kids. We still have a convertible (the Eclipse) but it's relegated to a once a week drive when we need 2 cars because Callum has therapy that day.

Driving a wagon with the windows close, air conditioning on and Sesame Street blaring just isn't the same.

5 comments:

Kim Ayres said...

One day, when the last of the kids has finally left home, getting a 2 seater convertable is at the top of my priority list!

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