This half term I am doing something that I have wanted to do for a very long time but have been too lazy, too skint or too scared to do until now… I’m still scared but a few weeks ago the impetus took me and I booked an intensive driving course to learn, finally at the age of 35, how to drive.
I didn’t do it when I was seventeen because I didn’t have any money and then when my Dad offered me some lessons a couple of years later I simply couldn’t be bothered to knuckle down and just do it. I guess I never really had the desire strongly enough to do it at that point as I lived close to the city centre in Norwich and didn’t have a great need to drive anywhere. When I moved to London a bit later, of course there’s not a tremendous amount of places you can’t get to on public transport so the same thing happened and on the back burner learning to drive stayed.
Jonny could always drive and passed his test as soon as he could but although when it was just the two of us and we could have afforded to buy a car, we didn’t as we couldn’t really think of a good enough reason to make the spend when we didn’t go anywhere that a train wouldn’t take us. He also, if we ever did need, would borrow his parents car. I think if we’d had more of a reason to buy our own, if we’d lived somewhere out in the sticks and it had been necessary then this would have been the time the bug caught me and I would have had the disposable income to part with. Two decent full time wages and no one to spend it on but ourselves and the rent would have been the ideal opportunity but instead we went on lots of holidays and had fun. Not driving didn’t bother me in the slightest.
By the time Jonny and I bought our own flat and decided we wanted to start a family money was very tight. A mortgage and a baby on the way dictated that driving lessons would be out of the question so expensive that they are and although we had a car by then, my Grandma had given us hers when she became very ill, lessons for me were way beyond our budget. Having a car has made life so much easier for us and with children and our lifestyle it has been absolutely wonderful. I have intended, for the last five years, to learn to drive so that I too can take us to places and drive my Grandma’s car but the budget has never quite been possible… Until now!
I have always felt a bit of a child saying ‘No, I don’t drive’ and have found it a little embarrassing then recently, when on the school trip and talking to one of Florence’s teachers Mr Foxy, I found myself feeling very silly admitting that I had never learned. I thought about it and thought about it and realised that although I’d not say we’re flush, my blogging and social media business is making money and actually, what was I waiting for? Excuses seemed to be completely run out. My Uncle is a driving instructor and had offered to teach me but is on a round the world trip right now and I just didn’t, all of a sudden, want to wait a minute longer. I wanted to do it and I wanted to do it fast. Learning bit by bit has never been my style and actually, is not a great way of learning for me as I get very bored of waiting. I am a much better ‘hit me with it all and I’ll get it done’ sort of person than a ‘slowly, slowly catchy monkey’ one.
My internet searches were focussed on intensive courses, the type where you learn to drive in one week as both the style and cost appealed to me. It’s a one off payment, no worrying about how many lessons you will have to fork out for and just like those ‘all inclusive holidays’ we used to go on (always to very luxurious hotels I have to point out) when I could have afforded driving lessons before, the money all up front appealed just as much as the time element. I also knew I’d have to do it in the school holidays so that my Mum could look after Florence and Jimmy for me while I learned so it had to be a company that worked in Norwich. I found 5day.co.uk (who are all over the country not just in Norwich) and all the reviews and Twitter comments seemed very positive. I took a BIG gulp and made the payment of £914. It’s a LOT of money!
The course works so that I will have lessons over five days starting at 11am and finishing at 7pm (there are also classes 9am-5pm but these were fully booked for this half term in my chosen area). They say: ‘Each day begins with a “rules of the road” brief. You are then introduced to your individual DSA qualified instructor who will work with you throughout the week. All in car tuition is 1:1 with no car sharing. On completion of the practical sessions you return to the training centre for theory classes. Theory tests are pre-arranged on the course week and, once passed, 5DAY™ will assist you in applying for your priority practical driving test. 5DAY™ guarantee to secure the test 75% sooner than the DSA waiting list’. They also say that IF you fail either the theory or practical test then they offer free correctional lessons until you pass although the tests have to be paid for again. So… I’m doing it!
My new provisional licence is sitting in my bag and tomorrow morning I am making my way to the course training centre to start life as a driver. A grown up driver, finally… I’m very worried that I might not pass but I shall let you know how my week goes and please, keep your fingers crossed for me, I’m more than a little nervous!
I have not been asked to write about 5day.co.uk nor have I been offered any incentives to do so. I have booked and paid for this course myself and am writing about it because I have chosen to.